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In a study conducted by the University of Pittsburgh, employers were asked what the most important skill to be hired. Communication skills were cited as the single most important factor.

Whether one’s a native English speaker or currently learning the language, English class is beneficial in multiple ways. As the U.S. is a predominantly English-speaking country, English class helps with both the fundamentals of communicating in everyday life, as well as enhancing our thoughts and beliefs within society and humanity. 

America has around 200 million English speakers, so learning the language is vital. English class offers the fundamentals of communicating both vocally and in writing — it’s where grammar, pronunciation and vocabulary knowledge starts. English must be decently understood before branching off into other subjects such as math or science. As obvious as this is, the importance remains the same: Learning the language of where one lives is necessary to prosper. 

 

Once everyday communication skills are learned, professional skills must follow suit. In a study conducted by the University of Pittsburgh’s Katz Business School, 50,000 volunteer employees, from a variety of jobs, were asked what the most important skill to be hired and to be promoted to managers is. Communication skills were cited as the single most important decisive factor based on the results of the survey. In most companies and organizations, the ability to communicate and present information is an expected trait of employees. English class teaches this format that is required by the professional world to succeed. Many of these teachings can help differentiate an employee from others when applying for jobs, simply by knowing how to communicate effectively. 

Arguably the most important part of English class is how it helps the mind explore culture, society and humanity. After the fundamentals, English class explores writings from early civilizations, strengthening the knowledge of where we’ve come from and how far we can go. Writing has served as the main source of information regarding events that happened in the past and how they were viewed by the individuals who were there to see them. 

For example, the Habeas Corpus Act, an act of Congress that guaranteed that subjects wouldn’t be held indefinitely without a trial, was written in 1679. The value in these papers, written by people using relatively the same language, is priceless to our understanding of early settlers and their way of life. 

JMU offers a large selection of English classes, teaching students an array of advanced and specified topics. Some examples include English 221, which focuses on larger issues through the lens of the children's book “Where the Wild Things Are.” English 308 goes over issues related to linguistics by way of historical, psychological, theoretical, and other viewpoints. Classes such as English 496 cover more niche topics like food writing, which is not as simple as it sounds. The class does go over writings about food, but it also explains how to write in detail and create memorable characters and settings. These three classes are only a small taste of the variety of classes and topics that JMU’s English department has to offer its students. 

Learning English is a vital tool when living in an English-speaking country. It’s the set of keys that unlocks new possibilities. Anything is possible when shared communication is learned and utilized to its full capacity. Communicating is the building block to independence and success: All you have to do is talk. 

Contact sophomore media arts and design major Nick Lau at launa@dukes.jmu.edu. For more editorials regarding the JMU and Harrisonburg communities, follow the opinion desk on Instagram and Twitter @Breeze_Opinion.