Emma Hide believes studying English Language is valuable for far more than spelling and punctuation and urges Christians to look at A-level studies too
Whilst GCSE English Language is of course compulsory, the popularity of the A-Level and degree is waning. Fuelled by the Government’s push for STEM subjects, students are increasingly opting for subjects like maths and physics. Reportedly, some find the GCSE syllabus unengaging and others believe that selecting English will lead to poorer job prospects.
For me, however, A-Level English Language was one of my favourite subjects, full of fascinating content not covered at GCSE. I explored intriguing topics such as regional accents, gender language differences, and child language acquisition.
English also honed my writing skills, helping me to succeed at university and later in the workplace. It helped me to develop my own voice, and communicate in a way that maximises impact.
Needless to say, I believe English Language is a highly relevant and practical area of study for life after school. What’s more, studying English could help enrich your child’s faith journey in so many ways.
How can English Language enrich faith?
The Bible is full of passages that speak of the power of words and language; words are not just meaningless sound waves, but have a significant role to play in our spiritual lives.
God spoke the world into being. Jesus’ words brought physical, emotional and spiritual healing. In the books of James and Proverbs we’re even told that our own words have the power to bring life or to destroy others. What’s more, one of the main ways God communicates to us is through written words in the Bible. Clearly, language matters to God.
Here are just a few ways that studying English Language could enrich your child’s faith:
1.Develop the power of communicating well with others
English Language helps students to think about how their choice of words, grammar, sentence construction and tone can all work together to best communicate their message. This can benefit your child in almost every area of life!
As a Christian, your child’s strong communication skills can help them to form meaningful relationships, and to clearly communicate their testimonies and the Gospel. For example, my English skills recently helped me to author an online article about God’s faithfulness during a health crisis at university.
2. Grow in self-expression and expression before God
The written word provides a unique and powerful way to process emotions and express ourselves. I first discovered this at primary school when my best friend started spending her whole lunchtime with her boyfriend at the exclusion of her friends. Instinctively I wrote her a letter, and after reading it she realised the impact of her actions and started to include me again!
Now I channel my thoughts and feelings through blogs, songs, poems, and letters. I often communicate with God through written songs, prayers and journaling. This love for creative communication and worship through writing can be nurtured by studying English.
3. Appreciate humanity’s diversity and uniqueness
The human language is uniquely expressive. While animals communicate through signals and responses, scientists say that our communication abilities defy nature’s norms. Exploring language acquisition is deeply fascinating and can foster a greater appreciation of our God-given ability to express ourselves freely.
Studying UK regional dialects and accents serves as a beautiful reminder of the diversity of humanity, fostering greater appreciation and understanding of linguistic variations.
4. Gain tools to help engage with the Bible
English Language teaches students to be analytical, and to consider how meaning is shaped through grammar, literary form, context, structure and choice of words. These analytical skills can be a powerful tool to help your child uncover the rich layers of meaning captured in the Word.
5. Develop a powerful, faith-filled voice in the workplace
English Language could benefit your child in most professional roles, including communication-focused jobs such as Marketing, Journalism, Public Relations, and Policy-writing. As a Christian, your child could be a force for honest, righteous, and compelling communication, positively impacting their chosen sector and bringing life to others through their words!
- Professor Jean Aitchison, The Leith Lectures BBC - Gives an interesting first lecture on whether language is in decay (relevant to A-Level English)
- Guardian online articles - Some interesting pieces on accents and dialects, as well as commentaries on why studying English Language at A-Level and degree-level is important.
- Awaken English website Helpful teaching and resources for A-Level English.