English Department switches it up for AP Lit and Lang


Lit or Lang? Photo by: Azucena Gama

Azucena Gama, Story Editor

Most things are convenient in chronological order: the days of the week, Toy Story movies, meals, and classroom learning subjects. Well at least, that’s what you would think. 

This year, for the first time since 2009, the English department at RBHS has changed their curriculum. In previous years, the AP English class for junior year was the AP English Literature and Composition class. Making the senior year AP English class the AP English Language and Composition class. This year, they have switched the two. 

The AP English Language and Composition focuses on non-fiction pieces, building arguments, and finding rhetorical strategies. AP English Literature and Composition focuses on how to arrive at passage meanings through examining literary devices, interpretation, connotative, poetic, and figurative language. 

English teacher Larry Forberg describes the differences between the two as, “One (AP Lang) is about the creation of meaning, and (AP Lit) is the meaning of the work.” 

Previously, students took English 9 (literary-based), English 10 ( literary-based), AP Literature and Composition, AP Language and Composition. Making the AP Language and Composition course the highest AP English class at RB for seniors. Many believe that the AP Language class the best class to prepare students for college. 

“The language class from deutsch lernen online learning is more of a college prep writing class, when you go to college, you are gonna have courses, and in every single one of those courses, you’re going to have to write essays, whether you’re taking STEM classes, engineering class, science classes, or English classes, it makes no difference. You’re going to have to write arguments and essays,” said English teacher David O’Rourke.

When it comes to an instructional side, there are also differences. This is the first time Forberg is teaching AP Language in 15 years. “I read a lot of nonfiction over the summer, I started to think about the curriculum that I was unfamiliar with. I had to do a lot of prepping which is no big deal over break, which put me out of my comfort zone if you will because now I’m teaching a class that I haven’t taught in a long time,” said Forberg.

The switch was initiated two years ago by department head Wendy Cassens. She states that after many “healthy discussions” with the department they decided to make the switch. Last year was the last year for juniors to take AP Literature, now this year both juniors and seniors, are taking AP Language. Meaning that next year’s seniors will take AP Literature. 

The main reason behind the switch is because of the mandated state test for juniors, the SAT. The SAT is a standardized test that includes an essay writing portion. With the AP Language class, you have the option to take an exam to earn college credit. English teachers agree that the SAT essay is very similar to the AP Language essay, making that the driving force behind the switch. 

“With the SAT being the argument, with the College Board being in control of the SAT and AP Lang and Comp. , it makes sense to keep that at the junior level because then were preparing our students for both the AP exam as well as the SAT,” Cassens said. 

Along with that, Cassens knows that more juniors take an AP English class than seniors, so with more juniors taking AP Language, they will be well prepared for the SAT. 

While there are obvious benefits to the switch, there are some department members who don’t agree with the change. O’Rourke, who is currently teaching AP Lang to seniors, believes that the switch is detrimental to the students.

“My thing is, it’s silly to let a standardized test dictate your curriculum. I think that’s dumb. Because AP Language is more properly placed as a college prep writing class and the other senior Englishes should reflect the same curriculum as the AP Language,” said O’Rourke.

Take these points into consideration the next time you’re picking your classes but, regardless of the views, the switch is here, and here to stay.