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English Department Curriculum and Syllabus

The English Department introduces students to a broad range of literary genres, both modern and from earlier periods, including a Shakespearean play each year from Grade 8. We aim to develop an appreciation for and critical understanding of various styles, as well as to give students knowledge of the major contributors to English literature. In addition, the syllabus includes a comprehensive study of poetry and poetic form. There is also a film component which includes the knowledge and analysis of filmic techniques and film genres. Our students are given guided opportunities to express themselves effectively both orally and in writing. To facilitate their competence in English, they are provided with a solid foundation in grammar, as well as instruction in the nuances of style and tone required for differing writing and speaking purposes. In the senior grades students are required to keep abreast of current affairs and to be able to analyse and debate on news items and political situations. We include theatre trips, wherever possible, to extend our students’ experience of literature as performance pieces. They are also able to perform small dramatic pieces themselves, either in the classroom situation or for larger productions, such as the Shakespeare Evening. Our annual Literature Week exposes our learners to visiting experts on many different aspects of English. There is a strong ethos of reading in DSJ which is actively encouraged by our Readathon as well as regular library lessons for the younger classes. In addition to the core English syllabus, we offer Advanced Programme English, Public Speaking, English Olympiad and the SACEE Writing Competition. In this way we aim for our students to become confident and proficient in their use of English, while experiencing it as a dynamic and vibrant language.


  • The English Department follows the prescribed CAPs documents, which are divided into the four skill sets of Listening and Speaking, Reading and Writing and Presenting and Language Conventions.
  • Every grade studies one literary work per term. These are changed from time to time so as to keep pace with changing trends or to introduce new thematic topics. The matric set works are changed according to the IEB selection criteria. Students come to analyse and interact with literature in increasingly complex ways as they proceed to the higher grades.
  • Every grade studies poetry. The younger grades (5 and 6) enjoy creating their own poems while learning different poetic forms and figures of speech. The higher grades analyse poetry, which is selected by increasing complexity and/ or depth of thematic subject, while increasing their knowledge of figures of speech.
  • Every grade studies language conventions, including parts of speech, punctuation and sentence structure in increasing detail from grades 5-12
  • Every grade is given practice in written and/or listening comprehensions each term.
  • Every grade is given guidance and practice in giving speeches, presentations and reading aloud each term.
  • In addition to these there are a number of skills which are particular to a specific grade:

Grade 5

Book review
Writing – journal entries, weather report, descriptive writing, newspaper articles
Dictionary work – structure of entries
Reading and writing instructions

Grade 6

Newspapers – sections, structure and style of articles, advertising, cartoons
Homelessness project.
Folklore, myth and legend.
Writing – articles, review, diary entry, narrative writing, character sketch, descriptive paragraphs, letter, instructions

Grade 7

Research project.
Writing – report, questionnaires, agenda, minutes, newspaper article, dialogue, memo, letter, advert, reviews
Short stories – structure, writing own narrative paragraph, own story
Role play

Grade 8

Introduction to film and visual literacy.
Writing – structure of plot, character descriptions.
Transactional writing – informal letter, newspaper article, report
Role play
Dialogue, interview

Grade 9

Propaganda techniques
Editing and script writing, directing, acting, staging  a play.
Writing – letter to the press, email, obituary, film review, writing invitations, menus
Reflective essays.
Visual literacy – cartoons and adverts
Filmic techniques

Grade 10

Autobiographical essay
Visual literacy – advertising
Diction and register
Literature essay – full length and mini Shakespearean essay
Debate, panel discussion
Transactional writing: Minutes, letter to the editor, curriculum vitae, friendly letter
Argumentative essay, narrative essay

Grade 11

Poetry anthology
Literature essay
Mini essay
Descriptive, reflective, argumentative essays
Transactional writing: Letters, blog, eulogy, emails, newspaper articles, newspaper columns, editorials, speech, open letter

Grade 12

Literature essay
Mini essay
Descriptive, reflective, argumentative essays
Transactional writing: Letters, blog, eulogy, emails, newspaper articles, newspaper columns, editorials, speech, open letter
Poetry syllabus
Film syllabus
Portfolio tasks – written and oral.