English and your career – the study of reading and writing the English language is essential in that it will apply to almost every occupation
Reading and writing are basic skills we begin learning at a young age. So why do we need to continue studying them in high school and beyond? Taking English classes improves our communication skills, which are essential to every job.
Communication is the ability to understand information other people give us and to have other people understand what we tell them. In addition to being fundamental for most jobs, the ability to communicate clearly and effectively can help us in every area of our lives. Every time we write a letter, make a phone call, or give someone instructions, we use our communication skills. Studying English helps us develop our reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills, all of which play some part in our everyday lives.
Taking English in high school and college
In high school English classes, most students study basics such as vocabulary, spelling, composition, reading, and grammar. Learning how to construct sentences and paragraphs lays the groundwork for writing effective letters, essays, term papers, and reports. English classes also include exposure to literature, which teaches students to analyze other people’s words and provokes thought by providing insight into the human condition.
College-level English courses are designed to refine the skills learned in high school. Subjects such as literature, writing, and grammar are taught as individual classes. These courses provide additional study and practice of communication.
How English relates to careers
You may think English classes only relate to a few occupations, such as writing or editing. But every job requires workers to understand instructions quickly and to explain problems to supervisors and other workers.
Good communication is essential for most occupations, even those that require little interaction with others. A problem cited by employers of engineers, for example, is that some technically competent workers are unable to explain what they are doing, to understand or explain what their part of a project is, or to relate their task to what others are doing.
Many occupations require frequent communication. Sales workers must be able to speak effectively both on the telephone and in person to present their company’s products well. Lawyers and managers need to express themselves clearly and to analyze large amounts of information to be successful. Health care workers must be able to understand their patients’ questions and concerns and to make patients understand how to maintain their health. Psychologists and psychiatrists must be able to listen and communicate effectively.
Developing communication skills
The best way to begin developing communication skills is to take high school English classes. Reading outside of class is also a good way to develop those skills and to build an effective vocabulary. In addition, getting involved in extracurricular activities improves communication because of the interaction required. Some activities target specific abilities: Joining the school newspaper or yearbook staff is a good way to work on writing skills; the debate team is ideal for developing speaking skills.
The accompanying lists show occupations that require advanced, intermediate, or basic communication skills. Advanced communication requires a strong ability to communicate both orally and in writing; college-level English courses are recommended. Intermediate communication requires the ability to accurately give and follow instructions, to persuade people to a particular point of view, and to write in an organized and grammatically correct manner; both high school and college English courses are helpful in developing these skills. Basic communication requires the ability to interact with others and to follow simple oral and written instructions; high school English classes are helpful but not essential in developing this level of skill.
For more information on the level of education and training needed for specific occupations, consult the Occupational Outlook Handbook, available in most libraries, career centers, and placement offices and on the Internet at http:// stats.bls.gov/ocohome.htm.
Actors, directors, and producers
Administrative services managers
Adult education teachers
Biological and medical scientists
Engineering, science, and computer systems managers
Foresters and conservation scientists
Geologists and geophysicists
Government chief executives and legislators
Lawyers and judges
Management analysts and consultants
Manufacturers’ and wholesale sales representatives
Marketing, advertising, and public relations managers
Physicists and astronomers
Public relations specialists
Radio and television announcers and newscasters
Reporters and correspondents
School teachers, kindergarten, elementary, and secondary
Special education teachers
Speech-language pathologists and audiologists
Urban and regional planners
Writers and editors
Adjusters, investigators, and collectors
Clerical supervisors and managers
Construction and building inspectors
Construction and building managers
Health information technicians
Health services managers
Hotel managers and assistants
Industrial production managers
Insurance agents and brokers
Licensed practical nurses
Police, detectives, and special agents
Private detectives and investigators
Real estate agents, brokers, and appraisers
Restaurant and food service managers
Retail sales worker supervisors and managers
Retail sales workers
Securities and financial services sales representatives
Service sales representatives
Social and human service assistants
Counter and rental clerks
Court reporters, medical transcriptionists, and stenographers
General office clerks
Homemaker-home health aides
Hotel and motel desk clerks
Interviewing and new accounts clerks
Loan clerks and credit authorizers, checkers, and clerks
Nursing aides and psychiatric aides
Occupational therapy assistants and aides
Physical and corrective therapy assistants and aides
Postal clerks and mail carriers
Preschool teachers and child care workers
Reservation and transportation ticket agents and travel clerks
Routing and receiving clerks
Taxidrivers and chauffeurs
Typists, work processors, and data entry keyers
Nancy Saffer is an economist formerly with the Office of Employment Projections, BLS.
COPYRIGHT 1999 U.S. Government Printing Office
COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group