The Tilton School English Department understands that we all acquire and hone native language skills and insights at different rates and in different ways. Further, we are motivated to hone these critical thinking and communication skills through reading different kinds of texts and by undertaking different kinds of expressive projects. The English Department invites students to engage in a range of experiences in close and sustained reading and a wide array of writing and performance projects to help them develop essential skills. In addition, at every level, students can opt to engage in more advanced and/or additional projects to earn “honors distinction.”

English teachers craft assignments and projects to allow students to express their own creativity and insights and to hone their analytical and mindfulness skills. The writing process encourages revision and refines the students’ understanding of grammar and mechanics, placing an emphasis on eventual mastery.

The Core Curriculum in English

Identity and Discourse — Exploration of Self Through Literature 

This course is designed to build student capacity in the Five Essential Skills, with a particular focus on inquiry, communication and creation.  The course “anchors” student reading with the following texts: All American Boys, American Born Chinese, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, Julius Caesar, and The Merchant of Venice. The course emphasizes the close reading of literary texts, encouraging students to ask questions about characters, their conflicts and the thematic understanding emerging from these conflicts.  Further students will reflect upon such questions as “Who am I becoming?” “How do I know?” and “What changes do you want to make in the world?” The course emphasizes writing clear and effective sentences, well-developed and polished argumentation, reflection, and poetry along with  public speaking presentations. Finally, the course encourages technical precision in punctuation, diction and syntax.

Honors Texts:

Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye

Sherman Alexie’s Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. 



Angels & Monsters Within — Advanced Study in Literature & Composition 

This course deepens the students’ exploration of self by probing the question of “good and evil.”  Reading literary texts from ancient to Greece, through the Renaissance and into the contemporary periods, students will continue to hone their close-reading, composition, and public speaking skills.  Ultimately, students will develop their own understanding of living a “good” life through a year-long examination of collective and personal morality and ethics through a close study of literature’s most iconic angels and monsters.   

Learners in this course will develop Tilton’s Five Essential Skills through a year-long conversation with the voices and texts of the Americas. Together, we will have conversations with writers from the Americas through their works; we will have conversations with each other through our own creative and critical expression; most centrally, through reading, writing, speaking, and listening we will have conversations about American experiences and identities, deepening our own understanding of the complex identities of the Americas. This course dives into canonical and contemporary texts and provides opportunities for students to develop their skills with language, both written and spoken, through various modes that range from exploratory and reflective, to expository and argumentative. Students who demonstrate advanced mastery of these skills, along with exceptional Habits of Mind, may earn an Honors distinction.

This course broadens the student’s understanding of his or her place in a complex, culturally diverse world. Through the language and backgrounds found in fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and drama from around the globe, students examine the development of universal codes and unique perspectives. Using historical contexts and an interdisciplinary approach, students develop their understanding of this material and gauge their own involvement through argument, exposition, and presentation modes of discourse. Students who choose the “honors” option for this course will have additional responsibilities to convey a deeper skillset.

Electives and Alternatives

Note: Electives and Alternatives are based on student interest, and some courses may not be offered in a given year.

Taken in addition to, but not in replacement of, a full year English course, Critical Reading & Writing Workshop (CRW) is designed for students who could benefit from more targeted instruction and practice in reading and writing skills. An intensive, seminar-style course, CRW will help students develop effective analytical and communication skills. Close readings of short texts provide valuable insights into purpose and audience. Revision and reflection of student writings allow for greater focus on more formal mechanics. Practice of posture, poise, pace, and pronunciation produces positive outcomes in public speaking. Through modes such as argumentation, description, comparison and contrast, personal narrative, cause and effect, and textual analysis, students will gain greater confidence in their abilities.

Creative Writing opens an opportunity for students who wish to create and share original works of memoir, poetry and fiction.  


1st Trimester — Memoir 

2nd Trimester — Poetry

3rd Trimester — Fiction


Students may enroll in any one or all of the trimester courses in creative writing.  Further, enrolled students will publish their creative projects in the school’s literary magazine Rambler.

This course helps students refine their reading and writing for college success and civic engagement. As curious, critical, and responsive readers of mostly nonfiction, this course requires students to be flexible, reflective responders with audience and purpose in mind. Learning to identify and to analyze rhetorical modes and literary devices, students discover a writer’s intentions to elicit a reader’s response to a particular situation. Context is crucial, and students work to polish their own understanding of formal and informal written and spoken language.

Students who choose the AP option will have “Advanced Placement English Language and Composition” on their transcript and must take the spring AP exam.

All students will create pathways for deep, purposeful, self-directed learning, fueling lifelong discovery, creativity, and growth, unleashing the skills, passion, and courage to address the world’s most challenging problems.

This course encourages critical and responsive reading of fiction, poetry, and drama. Learning to identify and to analyze literary devices within unique genres, students discover a writer’s thematic and emotional intention and connect these intentions to contemporary politics at home and around the world. Context is crucial, and students work to polish their own understanding of cultural perspectives and of formal written and spoken language. Students who choose the AP option will have “Advanced Placement English Literature and Composition” on their transcript and must take the spring AP national exam. All students will create pathways for deep, purposeful, self-directed learning.  

English for Speakers of Other Languages

At Tilton, the ESOL Program is designed to serve our international students who require additional support for English proficiency before entering the standard English curriculum. The program, delivered through the Center for Academic Achievement, supports students who will use their English in continued college or university studies, in future jobs, and in personal endeavors. ESOL courses provide students with instruction in the English language, exposure to the American classroom and culture, and exercise of the study skills requisite to success in a rigorous academic setting. 

Intermediate ESOL Writing

This course is designed for students entering the ESOL program with an intermediate level of English language skill development. Students are provided with many opportunities for developing English language skills in context, including reading and writing academic English in a wide range of language use settings. The development and practice of skills in grammar, vocabulary, and paragraph writing are emphasized, and students are introduced to writing essays and other longer texts in preparation for additional coursework in the ESOL curriculum.

Intermediate ESOL Literature

This course is designed for students entering the ESOL program with an intermediate level of English language skill development. Students practice and improve their reading and comprehension skills through exposure to many forms of written English, including simple, everyday written communications; articles in the popular media; and literary writing in essays, biographies, and short stories. This course prepares students for more advanced work in the ESOL curriculum and for eventual success in the mainstream academic program.

Advanced ESOL Writing

This course is designed to prepare advanced-level ESOL students for the writing they will be doing in mainstream courses. Students develop their writing skills by building on a strong foundation of grammar, evolving from intermediate to complex sentence structures, and by working through the writing process on many different types of academic writing, including a research paper. Students are expected to have a firm grasp of academic writing and to be able to apply that knowledge to their courses outside of the ESOL program upon completion of this course.

Advanced ESOL Literature

This course is designed to develop students’ academic reading comprehension as well as prepare them for mainstream literature courses. Students learn language analysis through short stories and academic texts, practice literary analysis through reading novels and a Shakespeare play, and develop critical and analytical writing skills expected of students in traditional literature courses.