The Value of Your First Year English Course

The first-year English courses at UBC Okanagan are some of the most widely required courses across all program areas. Whether you are majoring in the sciences or the arts, the chances are high that you will have to take at least one first-year English course. Fortunately, the Department of English and Cultural Studies offers a plethora of interesting and dynamic courses that feature the writing and literature skills and knowledge that will be a valuable asset throughout the entirety of your university career.

While you may feel the urge to overlook your first-year English courses as just another prerequisite to check off the list, there are ample opportunities in these courses to achieve a deeper level of learning and to develop a skill set that is sure to help you thrive in other areas of your academic life.

One of the best ways to learn about just how impactful these courses can be is to turn to testimonials from previous first-year English students.

Maddie Rocco with English instructor, Cathi Shaw

Maddie Rocco with English instructor, Cathi Shaw

“My enrolment in English 112 in my first year of university has made a tremendous impact on my academic journey and inspired me to positively continue my studies with confidence in my writing abilities. Regardless of one’s program, I believe successful completion of English 112 equips students with the skills essential for a successful university career.” – Maddie Rocco

English 112 is a three-credit course called Studies in Composition. Any student at UBC is welcome to take this course if they have not previously taken English 109 or English 114. This course was designed to give students a comprehensive learning environment surrounding research-based writing. English 112 is a great option to bolster your confidence when it comes to university-level writing and prepare you for writing assignments in any course you choose to take throughout your degree.

“I can undoubtedly say that ENGL 112 with Dr. Shaw gave me the necessary skills to succeed in my academic journey as an undergraduate student – skills that will also accompany me in my next academic endeavors, including a possible post-secondary degree. First, it provided me with a refresher of the different citation styles that were introduced to me in high school. As a student majoring in Philosophy, Political Science and Economics, an interdisciplinary degree, I found this very helpful since professors from different disciplines have contrasting citation requirements. Additionally, this course helped me strengthen my literary analysis and writing skills by encouraging me to think critically in each assignment and class discussion. It also taught me the different formats and writing styles used in argumentative, descriptive, narrative, and expository essays, which is essential to write a successful paper in any discipline. Finally, it helped me gain confidence while writing academic papers by requiring me to constantly practice the theories learnt throughout the course and subsequently providing very insightful feedback. With that said, I believe ENGL 112 is a foundational course from which all students, including those with an English requirement waiver, can benefit, since it is as good as an English writing refresher course as it is as an introductory course.” – Lisvet Parra Montas

English 112 is offered in every term of the calendar including the Summer terms. In addition, there are options to take this course both online and in person.

Dan Hilbers

Dan Hilbers

“My path to ENGL 150 and ENGL 112 was likely different from most. I completed an undergraduate degree in business and then studied sciences at UBC. I enrolled in my ENGL 150 and ENGL 112 as these courses were prerequisites for my desired future education. These English courses further developed my reading and writing skills. Also, ENGL 150 and ENGL 112 allowed me to explore personal interests by composing research papers and short videos. I highly recommend enrolling in either ENGL 112 or ENGL 150 to supplement any undergraduate education.” – Dan Hilbers

English 150 is another great first-year English course that UBCO has to offer. Introduction to Literary Genre is a three-credit course that differs from English 112 because it focuses on learning about research and writing through a literary lens. This is especially useful for any students who are pursuing a degree in the arts and humanities as it teaches key analytical and critical thinking skills that are highly valuable in those subject areas. However, learning writing skills through literature is an exciting option for all students regardless of their program. English 150 classes explore several forms of literature and genre including fiction, poetry, and more.

Ximena Cayo Barrantes

Ximena Cayo Barrantes

“As an international student, the transfer of my entire life, especially academics, to a language that is not my native one was frightening. However, ENGL 109 allowed this process to flow as naturally and empathetically as possible, which introduced me to English academic writing in a clear and consistent manner. And so, my university career started in the optimal way, by understanding what was expected of my academic writing at UBC, but also realizing that having a native language other than English is not a disadvantage but a source of a lot of knowledge which I learned to apply thanks to Dr. Chaudhuri in ENGL 109.” – Ximena Cayo Barrantes

English 109 is an excellent option for students who want a more in-depth approach to studying writing and composition. In addition, some students are recommended to take English 109 to provide them with an encouraging and comprehensive space to expand their learning. Unlike some other first-year English courses, English 109 runs from September to April so you have double the time to flesh out your understanding of important composition concepts.

Nancy Lui

Nancy Lu

“ENGL 109 was a transition course for me to university-level writing. Through the application of academic skills, I developed more effective communication skills, and I learned to think critically. Assignments and practices such as narrative, summary and research analysis lead me to study and reflect on personal and academic contexts. As a student who studies science, it helped me prepare for research-based writing in many of my science courses.” – Nancy Lu

These student testimonials are just a small peek into the world of first-year English courses. Having said that, there are many other first-year English courses that UBCO provides. If you are interested in improving your writing and analytical skills through the study of literature then English 151, English 153, English 154, English 155, and English 156 are fantastic options. In addition, your main area of study may influence which of these classes appeals to your interests. If you are drawn to the arts and humanities, then English 151 or English 154 are exciting courses for you to explore. If your passion lies in the realm of digital technology and media, English 155 delves into this subject area. English 156 would be an ideal choice if you are interested in learning more about sustainability and the environment.