Should University English be a requirement into post-secondary programs?

Short answer: No.

The longer answer is more complex; I honestly do not know. I am not a scholar, nor an expert of any kind on this subject matter. However, throughout my life I have read about and listened to stories that come from people of all walks of life. I have read articles and seen arguments from both sides, and I personally feel that the argument for university level English to be a requirement comes from a basis of racism, classism, and a light sprinkling of ableism.

I’m aware that the original statement only asked if senior English should be a requirement for universities, but I’ve decided to look at this in the context of all post-secondary institutions, most of which, by the way, are run by old, white, cisgender men with large salaries.

Our society in North America comes from centuries of imperialism, and much of it has been so heavily ingrained in our modern culture today that we just accept and never question it.

I was born white, I was raised by white parents, and English is my first language. I also live in a society where the main language spoken is English. I have a lot of privilege, so it enrages me when someone who also comes from the same background as me is a stickler for “proper grammar” and “proper English”. I was raised to equate intelligence with how well I could speak, read, and write English. Heck, I even joked that I was a “Grammar Nazi”, an offensive term my parents were proud to call me.

My entire education system taught me that, and it continues to teach this. But as Canada becomes a cultural mosaic, we must step back and take a look at how this impacts others. I know many people far more intelligent than I, who have come from different backgrounds and speak different languages, and therefore may not have great English. This poses a problem as the gateway to their education is heavily based on how well they can write a detailed, properly sourced and cited English essay. I can’t imagine the feeling of shame from the condescending message that you are not as intelligent as someone else because English is not your first language. I know people who have disabilities such as dyslexia, and although it may seem minor, think of all the times you’ve read something with many spelling mistakes and thought that the person who wrote it was less intelligent than you, joked that it looked like something a toddler might do, because you’ve been taught that only “dumb” people don’t know how to write. I know people who come from impoverished backgrounds, who have worries bigger and far more threatening than remembering to use MLA format to get those extra marks.

However, the people who created this education system did not bother to think about that. They had money, they got a good education, and they were surrounded by English their whole life.

I understand that some university programs are very theoretical and essay-heavy, and that ENG4U would properly equip someone going into that field; but for the rest of people going into different areas of work, college-level should be just as acceptable. It teaches the basic necessities of English and how to write an essay, and the ideas of the writer are still communicated effectively to the reader.

I could go on for hours about this, but I don’t think anyone would be bothered to read that, so I give you a general idea of my reasoning. I hope this post serves as a coherent argument that may change the ideology and prejudices some may have. Back to binge-watching Workaholics!