And this I believe: that the free, exploring mind of the individual human is the most valuable thing in the world.John Steinbeck, East of Eden

The English Department is a vibrant, dynamic department with skilled, professional and enthusiastic staff.  All staff members are passionate about English language and literature, and share this passion with their students.  We encourage our students to read widely, and to broaden and deepen their experience of the best of literature and make constant use of our excellent library.

The English courses in St. Joseph’s Secondary School are designed to meet the requirements of the Irish Junior and Leaving Certificate programmes, Leaving Certificate Applied programme and ESOL (English for speakers of other languages).

The English Department hopes that the courses provided in language and literature helps students to improve their communication skills and increase their confidence in self-expression; to acquire an understanding and appreciation of literature, an enjoyment of reading and the theatre.

Junior Cycle

First Year

In first year we introduce students to language and literature, with courses in functional, personal and short story writing. They are introduced to media studies and experience a wide selection of poetry, from the traditional to the contemporary, and are guided to be appreciative and critical of the written word. The form of short story and novel, chosen by the teacher, expose students to a variety of literary genre. Students are encouraged to read widely. Class visits to the library offer an environment for students to explore contemporary and traditional writings under the guidance of the class teacher. 

Students in 1st year are placed in mixed ability classes for English. In 2nd Year they are assigned to classes in accordance with their ability.

Junior Cert

Second and third years continue the First Year programme with greater emphasis on the Junior Certificate syllabus. Students explore a variety of writing styles, with the aim of exploring the four styles: informative, narrative, argumentative, persuasive, in their own compositions. A novel, a Shakespearean drama and poetry of various themes, chosen by the teacher, are studied in depth, equipping students with the necessary skills to approach the relevant sections of the Junior Certificate exam

Transition Year

As there is no set curriculum for Transition Year, focus is on guiding students in identifying and developing their individuality through creativity. Teaching staff embrace this year as an opportunity to expose students to genres of English literature beyond the boundaries of a set curriculum.  Transition Year students study English in mixed ability classes, moving to Higher or Ordinary Level groups in 5th and 6th Year for the Leaving Certificate programme.

Senior Cycle 

Students have the option to study English at Higher or Ordinary level. 

Emphasis is placed on encouraging critical thinking and developing the students written and comprehension skills. Students engage with a wide range of literature with the aim of replicating the five styles of language: informative, narrative, argumentative, persuasive and the aesthetic use of language. Students are helped to develop their individual styles of writing and become critical and insightful readers. 

Core texts to be studied for the Leaving Certificate Paper 2 change each year and are selected by the Department of Education and Science. The teachers in the English department choose the appropriate texts to suit not only the level at which the students studying but also the appropriateness of the content to ensure that students will find the texts challenging and stimulating.