In the United States, the idea of studying English is quite different from what it means around the world. When college students in the United States decide to pursue a degree in English, it is very different from pursuing a degree in Spanish, French, or Latin.
English Degree in College
While English is one of the most popular languages spoken around the world, but it is not the most popular language studied in colleges around the United States. When students study English in college, they are not studying the language at all; they are studying the written word, also known as literature.
The fact that a Bachelor’s of Arts in English has very little to do with language, mechanics, and grammar might be surprising to those who do not live in the United States. This degree is a very popular one with college students who love literature and are interested in working in schools, law offices, and publishing houses.
Where to Learn the Language
Those who wish to work with the English language in college have very few options. While students who study German, Spanish, or French in college actually learn to speak the language in the pursuit of their degree, there are not many degree programs in the United States where students learn more about the English language.
Colleges and universities in the United States do offer courses and programs for students who need help with their language skills. These programs do not quality for degrees, but they are designed to prepare non-native English speakers to use language in the U.S. universities. These programs help non-native speakers work on their proficiency in using English in the classroom while writing, speaking, listening, and performing using the language of the university.
These developmental programs are much like foreign language degrees in the United States. Colleges also teach students about the cultural differences in the United States and the unusual communication styles of English speakers, especially because native speakers use the language in so many unexpected ways. Learning the language helps the non-native speakers perform better in their chosen fields of study.
What an English Major Studies
Students who choose to major in English learn about a variety of different schools of thought in literature. English majors learn about the history of the language and how it changed with the Norman Invasion in 1066 and with the influence of Shakespeare in the early days of the Renaissance. Of course, they study classics from Ancient Greece and from authors like William Shakespeare, Edmund Spenser, and Geoffrey Chaucer. English majors study the way that authors changed the course of language. The programs also include specialized topics ranging from Irish Literature to Third-World Literature to Modern Poetry.
If native speakers want to get more involved in the actual language, they do have a few other degree choices. Students who study writing, journalism, and creative writing do learn more about the structure of the language and the rules of writing.
Linguistics and Translations
Another popular degree program with students who are interested in languages is linguistics. Students who study linguistics look at more than just the English language, but at languages as a whole. If you are truly interested in understanding the nuances of languages, linguistics is a good choice. Students who want to work in the lucrative field of translation should look into a linguistic degree.
Studying English in the United States and the United Kingdom is quite a bit different from non-native speakers think it is. Before you commit to a program, be sure you understand the contents of the program.