English Courses


English, at Central High School, is an accelerated college‑preparatory course of study that exceeds in rigor and pacing the English program of most high schools. While aligned to national and local core curriculum, all English courses include sequential requirements in the study of the novel, the short story, poetry, drama, creative and academic writing, and rhetoric. After the freshman year, students have the opportunity to take more challenging coursework through the Sophomore Honors, Junior (Language) Advanced Placement, and Senior (Literature) Advanced Placement English courses. The Honors and Advanced Placement courses are for high-performing English students who wish to be challenged at a more advanced academic level than our regular Accelerated classes.  For any questions regarding English courses, please contact Benjamin Hover, English SBTL in room 110 or at bdhover@philasd.org.


English 1 – (9th grade – Search for Self)

In the ninth grade, students use fiction and non-fiction to review English grammar, mechanics, and usage. They undertake a formal study of vocabulary and etymology. Students also write short and extended, timed and untimed, creative and academic letter- perfect essays that follow the writing process. Students then learn the elements of library research and begin to learn the techniques of oral communication and public speaking through formal reports, recitations, and literary discussions.


English 2 (10th grade – Social Justice)

In the tenth grade, students interact with the curriculum at a more sophisticated level. Students continue with a concentrated study of English grammar, mechanics, usage, and vocabulary/etymology. Students write moderately longer essays in response to literature using a more sophisticated writing process. Students also continue to advance their skills in oral communication and public speaking through formal reports, literary discussion, and debate.


English 2 Honors (10th grade – Social Justice)

Students in this class, as a stepping stone for Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate, cover all the aforementioned material listed for English 2 and additional texts, papers, and research. Prerequisite: B or better in prior English class.

Intro to AP/IB English and History (10th grade)

This course is designed for 10th graders who are excited about literature and history and are interested in entering the AP or IB program in 11th grade.  Students will take English 2 Honors and AP European History with the same students in both sections, creating a unique and supportive learning community similar to that of the IB program.  Readings in English will follow the historical eras covered in AP European History (1450-2000), allowing students to explore connections between the two subjects in a manner typical of IB classes.  Finally, students will develop skills necessary for success in AP and IB classes by analyzing historical and literary texts, expressing that analysis through writing, and conducting a year-long research project on a topic of their interest


English 3 (11th grade – American Literature)

In the eleventh grade, students interact with the curriculum at an even more sophisticated level. Students apply learned English grammar, mechanics, usage, and vocabulary/etymology as they review elements of style and rhetoric.  They continue to expand their vocabulary in preparation for the PSAT and SAT. Students write longer, more analytical, academic essays and a Junior Thesis, the required fully developed research paper. Additionally, students continue to practice techniques of oral communication and public speaking through formal reports, literary discussions, dramatic readings, and debates.


English 3 with a Creative Writing Concentration (11th grade)

English 3 with Creative Writing Concentration is an English 3 course with an emphasis on developing students’ creative writing skills. Each quarter, students write in a variety of genres, with the ultimate goal of creating one portfolio of finalized work per quarter. Students read many of the English 3 texts, such as The Great Gatsby and The Catcher in the Rye, as models for their own writing projects. These texts are supplemented by a variety of poems, personal narratives, journalistic articles, and short stories. A core requirement of the course is a hybrid Creative/ Academic Junior Thesis, in which students research a particular element of an American author’s style, and then write a piece emulating the author’s stylistic innovations. An additional requirement is for students to submit finished work to a variety of contemporary literary journals outside of the school.


AP English Language and Composition – (11th Grade)

The eleventh grade Advanced Placement Program is a sophisticated course designed to help students to read, analyze and write with the level of skill needed in a first-year college composition course. Students are held to high standards of performance in a rapidly paced program. Students who enter this program are expected to have already mastered the fundamentals of writing and speaking. Students will explore a diverse collection of college-level readings and techniques that focus on rhetoric, reading and writing. This intense examination of rhetorical devices will lead them to more effective communication, including rational exchange of opposing points of view. Emphasis will be given to analysis, argumentation, synthesis, and visual analysis skills. Students will explore the complexities of issues and learn to integrate the different viewpoints represented. Timed-writing practice will be given in the classroom, resulting in fully processed formal essays. Students will be expected to be genuinely committed to the Advanced Placement Program, including the Advanced Placement Examination in May. In addition, students will be expected to complete all Central requirements for the 11th grade English curriculum, including a research paper and numerous readings in American Literature. Prerequisites: B or better in prior English classes and desire to be challenged.


English 4 – (12th grade – Individual and Society)

In the twelfth grade, students continue to review elements of style and rhetoric across all genres, as they study, primarily, World Literature, and relate those skills to understanding the individual’s role in a global society. Students will write college essays, personal essays, and extended essays that analyze, compare, and synthesize works of literature and non-fiction.  Students will deliver multi-point, multi-discipline, oral presentations.

AP English Literature and Composition – (12th grade)

The Advanced Placement Program is designed to evoke the atmosphere of a university course in the introduction to literature. Students will be held to high standards of performance and make progress at a very rapid pace. Students who enter this program will be expected to have already mastered the fundamentals of writing and speaking. Hence, drill and mere skill development will not be part of this program. Instead, the course will center on the study of literature, and students will be required to respond to that study with intelligence and clarity of expression. However, verbal and written expression will be emphasized. Students will produce extemporaneous responses under timed conditions but will also compose fully processed formal essays. Students will be expected to be genuinely committed to the Advanced Placement Program, including the Advanced Placement Examination in May. Prerequisites: B or better in prior Central English classes and desire to be challenged.


IB English Higher Level

This is a two-year intensive pre-university course designed to study language and literature through classic and contemporary world masterpieces. Students will develop critical thinking abilities through discussion of, and writing about, various literary works. This rigorous course of study, aimed at highly motivated students, includes external and internal assessments. During the second year of the course, there will be additional readings and more detailed papers in response to the literature. Students will receive more in-depth preparation for internal assessments and the IB Higher Level English exam (given in May of the senior year). Prerequisite: Participation in the IB Diploma Program.


Creative Writing – (10th‑12th grades)

This is a writing intensive course for those who want to learn advanced techniques for writing poetry, short stories, screenplays and/or stage plays. Students will create numerous projects, large and small, engage in critical peer review, and share their work. Class participation is expected. Topics include writing theory, formal and free verse poetry, literary devices, grammar and punctuation, creative inspiration, plot structure, character development, dialogue, writing and formatting scripts, and more. Students will write often, learn how professional writers achieve their effects, and engage in thoughtful and respectful discussion of each other’s work and progress.


Victorian Literature (Gothic Studies) -(10th-12th)

An advanced elective for those who love to read books, learn about their authors, and explore the times in which they lived. The focus will be on Gothic fiction from the 17th to 20th centuries. Authors studied will include Marlowe, Shelley, Stoker, Stevenson, Poe, the Brothers Grimm, and others. Topics will include folklore, the supernatural, myths, mysteries, the counter-enlightenment, the emergence of the novel, and the evolution of horror fiction. Students will be expected to read and critique novels, plays, poetry, and short stories; write and present papers; and participate in class discussions. Each unit will include a historical exploration of the time and culture that produced the work, an analysis of the psychological issues within the text, and an examination of how art, film and television has inherited and interpreted such themes for modern audiences. Open enrollment for all 10th – 12th grade students. (Credit 1.0 – full year course)


Children’s Literature: Harry Potter – (10th – 12th grades)

The Harry Potter series has found a way to blend a multitude of literary genres: gothic novel, detective fiction, fantasy, adventure, and dystopia. The course will explore the characteristics and iconic texts of these genres in relation to the different Harry Potter books. The course will incorporate literature, fan fiction, and film as tools to support in the comprehensive analysis of the series. Students will work to unpack themes of friendship, identity, racism, responsibility, and power. Students will read the first four novels of the series: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. (Credit 1.0 – full year course)


Public Speaking and Oratory ‑ (10th‑12th)

This course will help students determine their audience and prepare material to be effective communicators in varied circumstances. All units emphasize a new component of public speaking while building on the unit before. Some components include delivery, memorization, scripting, outlining, as well as using props and manipulatives. Students will also review resumes, cover letters/emails, applying to online job postings as well as individual and group interviewing. This course will also go over how to use dress, body language, data, and technology when preparing material and then speaking about it.  Students will work independently and in groups, and will learn some traditional speech formats (report, pitch, drama, how-to). Finally, students will use improvisation and group discussion on historical and current events to learn how even conversation can be an informal type of public speaking.


Thematic Visual Literature – (12th)

This is a full year elective for seniors interested in the study of film from an historical and critical perspective. The class will view an array of films that are exemplary of the finest from among a multitude of genres including comedies, westerns, documentaries, mysteries, musicals, etc. Students will be expected to participate in class discussions and to write critical essays in response to what they see. Study will focus on varied techniques of directors, film editors, art directors and others involved in the production of motion pictures. Although the course is not one in which films are produced, students will be expected to become conversant with the jargon used in the process of cinematography. Open enrollment for all 12th grade students.