What is English Composition? Read on, because composition is a fundamental writing skill you can use anywhere, anytime! The Oxford Dictionary defines composition as “the way something whole or a mixture is made up.” Everything is made up (composed) of other things and so is English composition. A composition takes several ideas and puts them in an order, so readers can understand an idea or argument.
In most English class, compositions can be called an essay, report, presentation or a term paper. Compositions are composed of different elements, such as:
- Questions to be asked and answered
- Arguments to be presented and discussed from both sides
- Stories: who, what, where, when, why and how
- Opinions: stating a position then presenting evidence to support the claim or position
- Sources or references that provide information used to support a composition
In English composition, you learn how to “compose” or put together these different elements to clearly communicate in writing. The end result? You to learn to write persuasively, logically and in as few words as possible at a level your target audience can easily understand. You’ll also learn how to organize your writing, so it flows logically.
Some of the skills you’ll learn and practice include:
- Research: how to find credible, traceable sources for what you write, including facts, figures, and verifiable historical facts
- Critical thinking and reading: how to determine if what you are reading is factual, is common knowledge and how to question what you read to determine validity
- Using rhetoric: how to use persuasive, motivational and informative techniques so an audience will take an action or support the article topic
English Composition Coursework
Now that you understand a better definition of composition, let’s look at the course elements in an English Composition class. Your English Composition class typically teaches you through theory and practice exercises to do the following:
- Review/understand an assigned topic. What is the core writing exercise you’ll do as a result of this assignment?
- Brainstorming topics you’ll introduce and write about. What points do you want to make, and what areas will you cover?
- Create an outline. Organize your sub-topics with some phrases that define each topic; include sources for each one. This is your roadmap!
- Craft a strong thesis statement. What will cover in your composition? What is the main topic you’ll write about? Make it specific!
- Write the first draft – just start writing! Write complete sentences and follow your outline. If you think your paper is falling apart, go back and improve your outline, then improve your draft.
- Include sources, proof and evidence. Don’t simply say the drought in the Southeastern U.S. is historically bad, include your sources and evidence. You’ll need to cite these sources when you turn in your work.
- Anticipate the questions your writing will spur. Ask and answer the questions your target audience will likely have.
- Write specifics and go into detail after making a general statement. If getting eight hours of sleep every night is healthier for teens, be specific!
- Get a first review and feedback. Let someone else read what you’ve written. Don’t take their suggestions personally; they’re in your corner and want you to succeed!
- Re-write based on feedback. Incorporate the edits and suggestions that make sense and improve your composition.
- Write the final draft and proofread. Now is the time to correct grammar, spelling, tense, etc. Read your final draft out loud – this helps identify problem areas.
Excelling in English Composition not only makes you a better writer, but it also helps you develop great research, critical thinking and proofreading skills as well. The skills learned in English Composition will serve you the rest of your life, whether you write daily or send a ton of emails, the ability to write clear, concise messages will set you apart as a pro in a world of texts and emojis.