English

The English Department contributes to the school’s mission of fostering the development of thoughtful global citizens through the examination of literary works from the classics through contemporary world masterpieces. We carefully select texts from a range of time periods, cultures, genres, and styles in the belief that literature’s vast variety of human voices best expresses human unity.

We believe that the study of literature illuminates the complexities of human behavior and the power of both oral and written self-expression. It is important to us that our students understand that great literature thrives on ambiguity, contradiction, nuance, and beauty.

All students take four years of English. Our 9th and 10th grade students practice close reading of texts in preparation for the oral and written commentaries and comparative essays required in the 11th and 12th grade IB English program. The Course Catalogue describes the specific aims and texts for each year.

We endeavor to teach students the thinking and writing skills they will need in college and beyond. Along the way, we hope to instill a lifelong love of reading. 

Grade 9

LITERARY ANALYSIS AND COMPOSITION
[5 periods per week]

Who am I? What sort of person do I wish to become? What are the factors that shape the formation of the individual? In ninth grade English, questions of identity and self provide the thematic starting point for our explorations into literature. As we proceed, the horizon widens to include such topics as conformity and rebellion, the power of belief systems, love and sexuality, and the nature of evil.

Texts studied have included:
  • The Catcher in the Rye, Salinger
  • Lord of the Flies, Golding
  • Macbeth, Shakespeare
  • Oedipus the King, Sophocles
  • Annie John, Kincaid
  • Selected short stories and poetry
Assessment competencies: 
Demonstrates perceptive, insightful understanding of literary works
Writes well-organized paragraphs and essays; supports interpretations with precise, persuasive references to the text
Writes using clear, appropriate language with no significant lapses in spelling and grammar
Listens and participates thoughtfully and constructively in class discussions


Standards alignment:
 
School defined
Updated: August 2016
Authors: Minakshi Capur and Kenneth Ralston, English Teachers



ENGLISH AS A SECOND LANGUAGE
For non-native speakers

[Usually 5 periods per week]

The amount of ESL support will vary depending on a student’s needs and the school’s decision regarding the number of hours and levels available in any given year. English as a Second Language (ESL) classes are provided for students in Grades 9 and 10 who are not prepared to enter English literature classes without structured support. Oral and written comprehension and expression are emphasized, as well as vocabulary building and grammar. The overall aim is to support students as they are immersed within the English-speaking milieu of both the school and the Bay Area at large. Students are encouraged to join regular English classes as soon as is practicable and comfortable.

Assessment competencies:
Completes homework assignments carefully, turns them in on time, and comes to class prepared
Participates actively, enthusiastically, and thoughtfully in class
Pronounces English correctly and follows the rules of natural, rapid speech
Speaks English fluently and expresses ideas clearly and concisely
Speaks English with a high degree of accuracy in grammar, syntax, and use of vocabulary
Demonstrates ability to comprehend, interpret, analyze and respond to spoken English in a variety of contexts (discussions, videos, films, etc.)
Demonstrates ability to comprehend, interpret, analyze and respond to written English in a variety of contexts (literary texts, newspaper and magazine articles, etc.)
Writes thoughtful, well-organized paragraphs and essays, demonstrating a high degree of accuracy in grammar and syntax, as well as a command of style, 

Standards alignment: School defined
Updated: August 2016
Authors: Susanne Salhab, Head of English Department and Elizabeth Cleere, ESL Teacher
 

Grade 10

ENGLISH LITERATURE
[5 periods per week]
Literary Analysis and Literary Essay

Extending the analytic focus of the previous years' work, English 10 considers the power of literature to challenge beliefs by revealing other experiences, perspectives, and realities. In this context, we look at the way literary works have addressed, and continue to illuminate, questions of gender, race/ethnicity, and social class. We also examine in greater depth the role narrative point-of-view plays in influencing our reading of a text. Close reading skills are emphasized and students gain initial practice in producing oral and written commentary.

Texts studied have included:
  • The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald
  • Pride and Prejudice, Austen
  • Song of Solomon, Morrison
  • As You Like It or Twelfth Night, Shakespeare
  • The Odyssey, Homer
  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Twain
  • Selected poetry and short stories

In the second semester of English 10, students write the Comparative Literature Essay, a project designed as preparation for two key assignments required for the IB: the Comparative Literature Essay of English A1 and the Extended Essay. The Grade 10 Comparative Literature Essay is a 1,000 - 1,200 word piece of analytic writing in which students compare and contrast a literary aspect of two of the works studied in class.

Assessment competencies:
Demonstrates perceptive, insightful understanding of literary works
Writes well-organized paragraphs and essays; supports interpretations with precise, persuasive references to the text
Writes using clear, appropriate language with no significant lapses in spelling and grammar
Listens and participates thoughtfully and constructively in class discussions

Standards alignment: School defined
Updated: August 2016
Authors: Susanne Salhab, Head of English Department and Donna Rabin, English Teacher


ENGLISH AS A SECOND LANGUAGE
For non-native speakers

[Usually 5 periods per week]

The amount of ESL support will vary depending on a student’s needs and the school’s decision regarding the number of hours and levels available in any given year. English as a Second Language (ESL) classes are provided for students in Grades 9 and 10 who are not prepared to enter English literature classes without structured support. Oral and written comprehension and expression are emphasized, as well as vocabulary building and grammar. The overall aim is to support students as they are immersed within the English-speaking milieu of both the school and the Bay Area at large. Students are encouraged to join regular English classes as soon as is practicable and comfortable.

Assessment competencies:
Completes homework assignments carefully, turns them in on time, and comes to class prepared
Participates actively, enthusiastically, and thoughtfully in class
Pronounces English correctly and follows the rules of natural, rapid speech
Speaks English fluently and expresses ideas clearly and concisely
Speaks English with a high degree of accuracy in grammar, syntax, and use of vocabulary
Demonstrates ability to comprehend, interpret, analyze and respond to spoken English in a variety of contexts (discussions, videos, films, etc.)
Demonstrates ability to comprehend, interpret, analyze and respond to written English in a variety of contexts (literary texts, newspaper and magazine articles, etc.)
Writes thoughtful, well-organized paragraphs and essays, demonstrating a high degree of accuracy in grammar and syntax, as well as a command of style, 

Standards alignment: School defined
Updated: August 2016
Authors: Susanne Salhab, Head of English Department and Elizabeth Cleere, ESL Teacher


Grades 11 & 12

INTERNATIONAL BACCALAUREATE

IB ENGLISH A LITERATURE SL/HL

[5 periods per week]

The IB English A Literature course aims to promote an appreciation of the richness and subtleties of literature and of the English language. It seeks to facilitate the clear expression of ideas, to aid in the achievement of greater depth of thinking and literary analysis, and to assist in the understanding and production of both oral and written discourse.

In view of the international nature of the IB, the program does not limit the study of literature to the achievements of one culture. Through the inclusion of works-in-translation of World Literature, which is an integral part of the program, students gain a broadened international perspective of literature and human experience.
 
The program aims to develop college-level competency and skills. Thus, in their examination of individual texts, students are taught “close reading”, a skill which is practiced and evaluated by means of the literary “Commentary”, both written and oral. In their study of multiple texts, students adopt a comparative approach, a skill essential for the diploma examination and for the Comparative World Literature assignment. The latter, carried out on a topic of the student’s own choosing, is an externally-assessed piece of writing dealing with two or three works from the World Literature component of the program. Finally, in their oral work, students learn and practice how to give seminar presentations.

Each teacher compiles a reading list of fifteen works in accordance with IB guidelines and requirements. Works are grouped thematically by the teacher; topic headings in past courses have included:
• Imprisoned Lives
• Writings about Women
• From Eros to Agape: Representations of Love in 19th Century Fiction
• Madness and Insight
• The Journey as Metaphor
 

Assessment competencies:
Demonstrates perceptive, insightful understanding of literary works
Writes well-organized paragraphs and essays; supports interpretations with precise, persuasive references to the text
Writes using clear, appropriate language with no significant lapses in spelling and grammar
Listens and participates thoughtfully and constructively in class discussions

Standards alignment: International Baccalaureate Organization
Updated: August 2016
Authors: Susanne Salhab, Head of English Department and Ken Ralston, English Teacher
 

IB ENGLISH B INTERMEDIATE (for non-native speakers)
[5 periods per week]

English as a Second Language

The English B program is appropriate for students who have already studied English as a second language for at least two years immediately prior to the beginning of the course. Students follow the two-year International Baccalaureate curriculum at Higher Level (HL). The program aims to develop and practice language skills by means of a variety of oral and written activities and exercises. Additionally, students explore different aspects of a topic through the study of texts from a wide range of non-literary sources. Lastly, at least one full-length work of literature is undertaken each year.

 
Assessment competencies:
Listening comprehension
Reading comprehension
Spoken interaction
Spoken production
Written expression

Standards alignment: International Baccalaureate Organization
Updated: August 2016
Authors: Susanne Salhab, Head of English Department and Elizabeth Cleere, ESL Teacher

 

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International High School

150 Oak Street

San Francisco, CA 94102-5912

Phone: 415.558.2000

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An independent Pre-K through 12th grade co-educational day school in the heart of San Francisco. The school delivers a rigorous bilingual (French/English) immersion program through middle school, culminating in either French Baccalaureate or International Baccalaureate program in its International High School.

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