Guilty or Innocent? The Story of Adnan Syed.

Court trials are a long, gruelling yet important process in search of justice for victims and fairness for the defendants in cases ranging from burglary, to kidnapping and even murder.  It’s a time for prosecutors to present evidence to support the guilt of the defendant and for defence lawyers to cast doubt on those evidence.  For the defendant, the final verdict will be a profound life changing event.  Will they be free to go back home to their loved ones, or will they spend any time or the rest of their lives behind bars?  Guilt and Innocence may seem like a black and white concept, but in some instances, such as the case for Adnan Syed, the verdict is shrouded in uncertainty.


Adnan Syed before his conviction.

Thirty-seven year old Adnan Syed has spent the last eighteen years of his life in prison after being convicted of murdering his ex-girfriend Hae Min Lee (Johnson).  Once the verdict was reached and Adnan was found guilty, the case was closed until Rabia Chaudry, a close family friend of Adnan, came to his defence.  Rabia just didn’t believe that Adnan was capable of murder.  Never quite convinced that Adnan was guilty, Rabia continued to review his case and trial when she came across an article on Adnan’s lawyer, Cristina Gutierrez, written by Sarah Koenig (Larson).  It turns out, Cristina was allegedly mishandling client money, resulting in a disbarment (Koenig).  Concerned that Cristina may have purposely botched Adnan’s case, Rabia asked Sarah Koenig to further investigate.  This created the famous, award winning podcast Serial.  With Sarah’s help, Rabia brought attention to Adnan’s case again, questioning whether he was rightfully convicted.  After listening to the evidence brought forth in Sarah’s podcast, along with some secondary sources, I myself also have doubts regarding Adnan’s guilt.

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Jay’s recounting of January 13 1999.

The first piece of evidence I would like to bring forth is the timeline of the events on January 13 1999 that Jay Wilds gave to authorities compared to the timeline that the autopsies show.  Jay is now a former friend of Adnan who confessed to police that he supposedly helped Adnan bury Hae’s body after Adnan had killed her (Chaudry).  Although there are some inconsistencies throughout his multiple recountings of the story, his timeline remains fairly similar.  According to Jay, he and Adnan buried Hae’s body at Leakin Park around 7:00PM on January 13 1999, and Jay was back home at around 11:00PM on that same night.  This would seem highly incriminating, but the timeline of events suggested by the autopsy contradicts Jay’s testimony.  According to the autopsy performed on Hae, she was murdered on January 13 1999 from around 2:15-2:36PM.  But what’s interesting is that she had fixed anterior lividity (Simpson).  For those of you who don’t have a medical degree, in simple terms it is a discolouration of the skin that is next to the ground from the blood pooling (Gale).  In this case the discolouration was found on the anterior part of the body, which is the front side.  What’s strange about this is that her body was buried on her right side.  By reasoning, the lividity should have been on the right side, not anteriorly.  The conclusion that the autopsy drew was that she had to have been left face down on a flat surface for a period of at least ten hours after she was murdered (Simpson).  It wasn’t until after that ten hours that Hae’s body was moved to Leakin Park and left buried on her right side.  Now if this is true, that means the findings in the autopsy completely contradict Jay’s story by around five hours.  This raises a lot of suspicion about Jay’s involvement and his version of the story.  Since Jay’s testimony was the key piece of evidence that led to Adnan’s conviction, such seeming contradiction between his story and the autopsy findings should have cast doubt on Adnan’s guilt.  This whole case was based on Jay’s testimony, but was it reliable and consistent enough to send Adnan to prison?


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Small portion of the autopsy that explains evidence of external injury.

The second misgiving I have with Adnan’s conviction is the thoroughness of defence that Adnan’s lawyers provided for him.  There were many possible leads and opportunities that may have helped exonerate Adnan yet they never pursued them.  The first one I would like to bring forth is the possibility that Hae was sexually assaulted.  The positioning of Hae’s clothes when she was found left some of her body exposed, which is a possible indication of sexual assault.  Despite there being DNA swabs performed, they were never tested (Herbst).  If Adnan was truly innocent he would have no issue getting a DNA test, but his lawyers never pursued this possibility.  A DNA test could have been very important evidence in this case yet Adnan’s lawyers never looked into this.  This raises a lot of suspicion that there was not actually any DNA evidence that links Adnan to Hae’s murder (Smith).  By not following up and exploring the possibility that Hae was sexually assaulted, Adnan’s lawyers did not live up to their duty to defend Adnan.  Their inadequacy in defence raises further doubt in Adnan’s guilt. To read the full autopsy report click here.


asia-mcclain-letter-handwritten-1_0Another key piece of evidence that Adnan’s lawyers overlooked was a possible alibi.  Asia McClain, classmate to Adnan, wrote multiple letters stating she remembered seeing him during the time of Hae’s murder, providing an alibi for Adnan (Herbst).  Adnan’s lawyers never followed up on this possible alibi which could have been a powerful defence.  Whether or not the alibi would have been used in court, it should have been pursued by Adnan’s lawyers.  To me it seems pretty obvious that a possible alibi could be Adnan’s ticket to freedom.  For whatever reason, Adnan’s lawyers did not think so.  We may never know the true intentions of Cristina because she passed away a few years ago from a heart attack (Dachille).  But nonetheless, Asia distinctly remembers seeing Adnan on January 13 1999 during the supposed time of Hae’s murder.  Asia mentions that she did not know Adnan very well but knew him from school.  Why would Asia lie just to help some random classmate?  This again supports Adnan’s innocence with the alibi provided by Asia.

Adnan’s conviction for Hae’s murder seems quite troubling and controversial now.  The conviction was based on a witness with faulty memory whose testimony contradicts physical evidence and defence lawyers with faulty and questionable conduct.  Adnan was convicted solely based on one witness’ story.  Even this story was full of inconsistencies, and seemingly missing key pieces of information.  Based on the supposed events on the night of January 13 1999, there is not a lot of factual evidence that links Adnan to Hae’s murder.  However, there is quite a substantial amount of evidence that points to Adnan’s innocence.  If Adnan truly is innocent, I am saddened that he has spent the majority of his life wasting away in prison, while Hae’s killer may still be roaming free.  I hope that this case can be fully reviewed with existing evidence reexamined and new leads followed up.  By doing so, hopefully a clearer picture can emerge as to whether the evidence supports Adnan’s guilt without a doubt or whether the true killer is still out there.

Works Cited

Dachille, Arielle. “Adnan Syed’s Lawyer Cristina Gutierrez Has a History of Tough Cases.” Bustle. 5 December 2014. <;. Accessed 28 July 2017.

Gale, Thomson. “Lividity.” World of Forensic Science. 2005.<;. Accessed 28 July 2017.

Herbst, Diane. “Adnan Syed is Innocent and I Can Prove It: Lawyer Rabia Chaudry.” People. 3 August 2016. <;. Accessed 28 July 2017.

Herbst, Diane. “Adnan Syed: Asia McClain, Alleged Alibi Witness, Reacts to New Trial.” People. 1 July 2016. <;. Accessed 28 July 2017.

Johnson, Lacey. “Maryland prosecutors ask court to deny new trial in ‘Serial’ murder case.” Reuters. 8 June 2017. <;. Accessed 28 July 2017.

Koenig, Sarah. “Lawyer Gutierrez agrees to disbarment.” The Baltimore Sun. 2 June 2001. <;. Accessed 28 July 2017.

Larson, Sarah. ““Serial”: The Podcast We’ve Been Waiting For.” The New Yorker. 9 October 2014. <;. Accessed 28 July 2017.

Simpson, Susan. “What the Crime Scene Photographs Show.” The View From LL2. 30 September 2015. <;. Accessed 28 July 2017.

Smith, Thomas. “Serial: Adnan Syed’s Post-Conviction Hearing Is Underway.” NME. 5 February 2016. <;. Accessed 28 July 2017.


Serial Podcast a World of Mystery



Sarah Koenig, writer of the famous podcast, Serial.

Today we are looking at something that’s a little different from my last couple of blogs.  Just a couple of days ago, I listened to my first ever podcast from a series called Serial, by Sarah Koenig.  Now I’ll admit I was a little hesitant to listen to a podcast because I am more of a reader.  However, this podcast proved to be really interesting and Sarah’s methods of delivering her message really grabbed my attention.

Before we dive into my review, let me give you a little background information on this podcast.  Sarah created this gripping podcast as a result of being approached by a woman named, Rabia Chaudry, who read one of her articles on defence attorney, Christina Gutierrez.  Christina was disbarred for allegedly mishandling money entrusted in her by clients (Koenig).  Rabia came to Sarah hoping she would investigate the case of her good family friend, Adnan Syed, who was convicted of killing his ex-girlfriend, Hae Min Lee (Larson).  After reading Sarah’s article Rabia became suspicious of the fact that Adnan’s defence attorney may have purposely botched his case.  As requested, Sarah began the long investigation into Adnan’s case.


Victim Hae Min Lee (left) and alleged murderer Adnan Syed (right).

The problem with Adnan’s case was that he was convicted solely based on one testimony, Jay Wilds‘, who supposedly helped Adnan bury Hae’s body (Chaudrey).  Though there was little evidence proving Adnan’s guilt, the case mainly revolved around Jay’s story, despite the fact that Adnan denies any of these events occurring.  “So either it’s Jay or it’s Adnan. But someone is lying.” (Koenig)  Determined to reveal the truth behind this case, Sarah took her podcast to the internet in hopes to make some discoveries of her own.

The question remains: Is Adnan innocent or is he guilty?

Sarah starts the podcast off by questioning how well one can recall memories.  Can you remember exactly what you did six weeks ago during an allotted time?  It’s a pretty tricky question.  Well this is exactly why Adnan is now behind bars because he can’t seem to remember where he was on January 13 1999 from 2:15-2:36.  One side may ask: Who could blame him?  While on the other hand others may say: How convenient he can’t remember what he was doing the day of Hae’s murder.  Our brain acts like a “survival tool”, so any events that prove to be unmemorable will be deemed useless and be forgotten (Bar).  If January 13 1999 was in fact a normal day for Adnan, why should he be expected to remember this?  This issue with memory can go both ways.  Asia Mclean supposedly remembers seeing Adnan during the time of Hae’s murder, giving Adnan an alibi.  In fact, she can remember it very clearly.  With the issue of memory we wonder if this is reliable as there is no way to verify this.  Memory serves to be a tricky yet vital concept in court.  That is especially true in this case.


Cover for the Serial story of Adnan.

After listening to the debut episode of Sarah’s investigative story on Adnan, I must admit I really enjoyed it.  There are a lot of different components that Sarah masterfully brings together, which contributes to the appeal of the podcast.

In creating a podcast, Sarah must somehow capture the attention and interest of the audience solely through their sense of hearing.  She does so by portraying her emotions as well as including music and voices other than her own.  For starters, Sarah uses a conversational tone throughout her podcast, which appeals to a more general audience.  This allows listeners to understand her podcasts without needing a Master’s Degree.  Not only does she maintain a conversational tone, but she manages to do so while conveying emotion to help deliver her message.  Then there’s her incorporation of music.  She effectively uses music to help set and change the tone throughout the podcast.  Music is known to be an important component in setting tone and mood (Leigh).

Although all of these elements are important in making the podcast more appealing, to me, I found Sarah’s use of other voices to be the most effective.  This podcast is not just about Sarah and her thoughts on the case of Adnan, but rather it is a chance for others to be heard.  Whether they are in support of or against Adnan, Sarah gives other people a voice who may not have had one before.  This gives listeners the chance to experience everyone’s thoughts and perspectives relative to the case and that definitely drew me in.  To be able to hear the story from not just one person, but multiple people really leaves the listener with a lot to think about.


Illustration of Adnan Syed’s long and hard fought retrial.

What I think makes this podcast so interesting is that it’s not just some dramatized fictional story, but it’s a real story.  Sarah brings forth the realities of our justice system and how they may have put an innocent man behind bars.  The sad reality is that there are many more cases like Adnan where the defendant was in fact found innocent after having spent much of their life in prison.  And there are other cases where those who are innocent will spend the rest of their life in prison.  In fact a study shows that 4.1% of people who are sentenced to the death penalty are actually innocent (Gross).  By creating this podcast, Sarah attracts the attention of the audience by shining a whole new light on a different side of the story.


Family of Hae Min Lee.

Although the idea of the podcast may seem great, we must not forget about the victim and her family.  By reintroducing Adnan’s case to the public through the popular podcast Serial, it must be difficult for the Lee family.  This story is real and the tragic death of Hae was difficult for the Lee family to have to endure.  According to Merlan, the Lee family states that by bringing this case back, it has “reopened wounds few can imagine”.  Especially after the case has been supposedly solved and closed for over fifteen years it no doubt brings back the tragic memories of losing a beloved daughter and sister.  Someone claiming to be Hae’s brother even took his response to Serial to the internet.  He claims that to many people the story and murder of his sister is entertainment, but for him and his family this is their reality that they must face (Engel).  I sympathize with the Lee family and the pain this must bring them.  If you would like to read more about the response of the Lee family click here.

Although I enjoyed this podcast and found it to be a unique and interesting way to deliver investigative discoveries, I still prefer reading.  I have always been a strong visual learner, which I believe to be a large part in this preference.  Ever since a young age I have enjoyed the imagery and imagination that reading can provoke, which is something difficult to find in a podcast that is based on factual evidence.  Regardless, the podcast is an interesting form of media that I enjoyed more than I thought I would.

Works Cited

Bar, Moshe. “Human memory: What did you do last Sunday?” Los Angeles Times. 29 May 2011. <;. Accessed 21 July 2017.

Chaudry, Rabia. “Adnan Syed is innocent. Now find Hae Min Lee’s real killer.” The Guardian. 6 July 2016. <;. Accessed 21 July 2017.

Crockett, Moya. ““It wasn’t Adnan. It wasn’t Jay. I know who killed Hae”: Serial’s Rabia Chaudry speaks to Stylist.” Stylist Magazine. 16 August 2016. <;. Accessed 21 July 2017.

Engel, Pamela. “Brother Slams Popular ‘Serial’ Podcast For Sensationalizing His Sister’s Murder.” Business Insider. 18 November 2014. <;. Accessed 21 July 2017.

Gross, Samuel. “The staggering number of wrongful convictions in America.” The Washington Post. 24 July 2015. <;. Accessed 21 July 2017.

Koenig, Sarah. “Lawyer Gutierrez agrees to disbarment.” The Baltimore Sun. 2 June 2001. <;. Accessed 21 July 2017.

Larson, Sarah. ““Serial”: The Podcast We’ve Been Waiting For.” The New Yorker. 9 October 2014. <;. Accessed 21 July 2017.

Leigh, Megan. “The importance of a good soundtrack: The mood is in the music.” Pop Verse. 4 April 2014. <;. Accessed 21 July 2017.

Merlan, Anna. “Hae Min Lee’s Family Issues Statement Addressing Serial Fans: Adnan Syed ‘Destroyed Our Family’ .” Jezebel. 8 February. 2016. <;. Accessed 21 July 2017.

Robinson, Wills. “Family of ‘Serial’ victim Hae Min Lee say her convicted killer Adnan Syed ‘destroyed our family’ in emotional letter that slams the podcast’s fans for running to defend him.” Daily Mail Online. 8 February 2016.<;. Accessed 21 July 2017.

Vargas-Cooper, Natasha. “Exclusive: Jay, Key Witness from ‘Serial’ Tells His Story for First Time, Part 1.” The Intercept. 29 December 2014. <;. Accessed 21 July 2017.

The Females of “The Glass Castle”

Multimedia Presentation: Feminist Theory

Works Cited

American Women in the 20th Century. “American Women in 1950-1970.” American         Women in the 20th Century. n.d.             <;. Accessed 20 July 2017.

Crossman, Ashley. “Feminist Theory in Sociology.” ThoughtCo. 25 April 2017.    <;. Accessed 20 July 2017

Gale, Thomas. “Women in the Early to Mid-20th Century (1900-1960): Social and            Economic Conditions.” Encyclopedia. <          sciences/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/women-early-mid-20th-     century-1900-1960-social-and-economic-conditions>. Accessed 20 July 2017.

Mertes, H. “The portrayal of healthy women requesting oocyte cryopreservation.” NCBI.            2013. <;. Accessed 20 July 2017.

Strong-Boag, Veronica. “Women’s Movements in Canada.” The Canadian Encyclopedia. 7 February 2006. <           movement/>. Accessed 20 July 2017.

Walls, Jeannette. The Glass Castle. New York: Scribner, 2006. Print.

Breaking the ‘Walls’ of Archetypal Theory


One of the many covers of The Glass Castle

This past week I have had the pleasure to dive into the world of Jeannette Walls and read her infamous memoire The Glass Castle.  Jeanette Walls does a spectacular job retelling the story of how her peculiar family influenced her childhood and her life growing up.

Upon the initial reading, many would fail to pay attention to how Jeanette Walls is able to craft archetypal figures and symbols into her story.  A more in depth analysis through the lens of an archetypal theorist can make these figures and symbols much more obvious.

Before we get ahead of ourselves let’s talk about what archetypal literary criticism really is.  By analyzing text through an archetypal theorist, you pay special attention to patterns in symbols, figures and themes that may reccur in other stories or in our universe (LiteraryDevices).  The Glass Castle has many great archetypal symbols, but something different this novel brings to the table are characters that can fit more than one archetypal figure.


The author and protagonist of the novel, Jeannette Walls.

Perhaps one of the more obvious archetypal figures that can be applied to the characters of The Glass Castle is the hero, represented by Jeannette Walls.  The hero archetype is often described as someone with good principals and values.  There are often many obstacles and challenges that will question the hero’s morality, yet it is here where they prove their righteousness (Scribendi).  The hero must go through a great journey, known as the “hero’s inner journey” to fulfill their potential and find their greater purpose in life (Lutton).

Jeannette struggles through many hardships throughout life with her family, but never allows that to break her spirit.  She is displayed as a kind hearted character who is always trying to see the good in everyone.  Despite the fact that Jeannette’s father has “a little bit of a drinking situation”, to Jeannette, “Dad was perfect” (Walls 23).  This is one of many examples where Jeannette sees people in their best light.  The decency in Jeannette never wavers even though the kindness she so willingly offers is not always reciprocated.  Jeannette experiences a great journey, which is so unique and foreign to most people.  It is this journey that leads Jeannette to her greater purpose and to a better understanding of life.


Diagram of the “Hero’s Inner Journey”.

Like many heroes, Jeannette goes through the “hero’s inner journey”.  The “hero’s inner journey” is the long road that is filled with tasks and challenges, but at the end of the road the hero will discover his/her potential and purpose in life (Smith).  I believe that each of Jeannette’s adventures, moving from place to place, represents one “hero’s inner journey” and all together they create one great “hero’s inner journey” of life.  Each move for Jeannette is like a new challenge or change as she leaves the comfort and familiarity of her old home.  Although, at first, she may be resistant to the change, she eventually learns to accept the challenge and face it head on.  One particular challenging move requires the Walls family to leave their home in Phoenix, which Jeannette claims to be “the one true home we’d ever had” (Walls 154).  They decide to move to the small town Welch, which Jeannette soon realizes would be her new home for quite a while.  It is here that she and her brother Brian “figured we’d make the best of it” (Walls 155).  Once she is able to realize that she has little choice but move with her family, she becomes resigned to the fact that she will have to make the best of a new life in a new surrounding.

To me, one of the most complex characters to determine an archetypal figure would be Jeannette’s father, Rex Walls.  What makes him so puzzling is his drastic change in character when sober versus when drunk.  For this purpose, I will give him the identity of two archetypal figures.  When sober, Rex is very much like the archetypal figure of a mentor to his daughter, Jeannette.  A mentor is someone who guides the hero and passes


Rex Walls, Jeannette’s father.

down their knowledge and experiences to help the hero face challenges of their own (Tvtropes).  Rex teaches his children about life, passing down stories of adventure.  He teaches them to take life head on and not let fear consume you.  Jeannette always believes he “taught us the things that were really important and useful” (Walls 20).  On the other hand, when Rex drank, Jeannette recalls, “Dad turned into an angry-eyed stranger” (Walls 23), an archetypal tyrant.  The archetypal figure of a tyrant is someone in constant need of power who uses forms of intimidation and violence to get their way and prove a point (Wilde).  This side of Rex was so different from the loving father and mentor that Jeannette grew to admire, a side of him that she didn’t even recognize.


The entrancing beauty of fire.

Throughout the novel there are many archetypal symbols that perhaps suggest a deeper meaning.  Jeannette faces many encounters with fire, which is in fact her earliest memory.  She recalls being set on fire while cooking hotdogs at the young age of three.  She spent weeks in the hospital trying to recover from the burns, leading to multiple skin grafts.  For a young child you would think such an experience would be traumatizing, but Jeannette doesn’t let the fear of fire sink in, but rather she “became fascinated with it” (Walls 15).  She would constantly watch and play with fire.  It got to the point where she even set two buildings on fire.


At first glance I wondered, “So what?  It’s just fire.”, but looking at this from an archetypal theorist point of view, the fire can be symbolic of so much more.  Fire is debatably symbolic of many different things, but in this case I believe fire is symbolic of both beauty and destruction, which is a parallel to Jeannette’s father.  Jeannette admires the beauty of the flame, but learns all too quickly that fire has the ability to destroy.  Much like the fire, Jeannette’s father possesses the beauty of being a loving and admirable mentor, but can very quickly transform into a violent destructive figure.


A can of yellow paint.

While living in the dreary house in the town of Welch, Jeannette is constantly trying to find ways to improve and lift the spirits of her new home.  One day, Jeannette’s father brings home a can of bright yellow paint.  Jeannette believes that the yellow paint could “completely transform our dingy grey house” (Walls 157).  Looking a little deeper beyond the text, perhaps the yellow paint is more symbolic than we thought.


Jennifer Bourne thinks yellow is a colour that represents happiness and hope.  In this situation, I believe Jeannette is trying to find some happiness in her life.  It is a symbol for the hope she has for her family to have a better life in Welch.  It seems Jeannette wants nothing more than to seem like a picture perfect family as she mentions that by painting the house yellow, it “would look, at least from the outside, almost like the houses other people lived in” (Walls 157).  It seems Jeannette never loses hope for the possibility that she could live a seemingly normal life with her family.

I believe that as the story progresses, Jeannette and her siblings will grow to be strong, independent adults.  Living the life they have, they will be ready to take on any challenge they face.  Having experienced very difficult times throughout life with a lack of parental guidance, I believe Jeannette will learn from the mistakes of her parents and strive to become a better role model for her future children.

The Glass Castle is a beautiful crafted novel that follows the Walls family and their many great adventures.  Diving deeper into the novel, you can find so many great archetypal symbols and figures.  Jeannette Walls has done a phenomenal job retelling the story of her life and her experiences with her family.

Works Cited

Barker, Danika. “Archetypal Literary Criticism.” Scribd. n.d.   <;. Accessed 12 July 2017.

Bourn, Jennifer. “Meaning of The Color Yellow.” Bourn Creative. 5 February 2011. <;. Accessed 12 July 2017.

Hughes, Mark. “Symbolism of Fire.” Infoplease. 2008.<;. Accessed 12 July 2017.

LiteraryDevices. “Archetype – Examples and Definition of Archetype.” Literary Devices. 11 March 2015. <;. Accessed 12 July 2017.

Lutton, Frith. “Hero Archetype.” Frith Luton. n.d. Web. <;. Accessed 12 July 2017

Scribendi. “5 Common Character Archetypes in Literature.” Scribendi Editing and Proofreading. n.d. <;. Accessed 12 July 2017.

Smith, Terri. “Writing Lesson 7 – Your Hero’s Outer and Inner Journey.” A Novel Writing Site. 6 January 2010. <;. Accessed 12 July 2017.

TVTropes. “Mentor Archetype.” TV Tropes. n.d. <;. Accessed 12 July 2017.

Walls, Jeannette. The Glass Castle. New York: Scribner, 2006. Print.

Wilde, Stuart. “Archetype: The Tyrant.” The Tyrant Archetype. n.d.<;. Accessed 12 July 2017.

YourDictionary. “Archetype Examples.” YourDictionary. 9 June 2016. <;. Accessed 12 July 2017.




Grade 12 English, to Include or Not to Include?


Website where you can find all program prerequisites for universities and colleges in Canada.

Faced with critical decisions in pursuit of post-secondary school education, many students are faced with choosing the right course to fulfil the prerequisites and requirements for university programs that interests them.  Increasingly, many students are wondering if grade 12 English should be a requirement for all university programs.  Students who are not in pursuit of studies in English or literature question the value of the grade 12 English course and believe it should not be a prerequisite for their university programs.  Many students planning to study science or mathematics do not see the value of committing time and effort on an English course.  A superficial glance at their debate and opinions would tend to support their point of view. However, upon a deeper and more profound reflection, the value of grade 12 English becomes unmistakable, both as a university prerequisite and as a prerequisite for life in general.


Diagram of career paths.

I believe that grade 12 English should be a requirement for all university programs because proficiency in English is vital to all fields of studies, contrary to what some people may believe.  A common belief among people studying math and sciences is that studying English adds no value to their chosen fields.  I am here to challenge that belief and offer a differing perspective.

A major part of the English study is communication, which is an important aspect in all fields of study.  No matter what career you decide to pursue, you have to be able to effectively communicate your ideas and findings, while understanding those of others.  Let’s take science for example.  As a scientist, how do you expect to be able to communicate your ideas to other scientists or even teach students?  Well the answer is a proficient working knowledge of English.  The English course helps you to organize your thoughts and ideas into words that can be effectively communicated to others either in speech or written text.  In relation to this idea, many believe English is “the method through which we share our ideas and thoughts with others” (Naved). English is also known to be the language of science, which highlights the importance of the English language (Porzucki).  These are a few of many ways of how English can be applied to the sciences, which shows the importance of English, which at first glance might not be as apparent.


Can you solve this puzzling word problem?

To further emphasize the importance of grade 12 English to university we can examine the relevance of English to mathematics.  When faced with what many call a “word problem” in a math class, what you are really doing is applying your comprehension skills learned from English class to solve the problem.  Without comprehending the problem, you will not be able to solve it even if you are “great with numbers” or a great mathematician.  Studies actually show that students abilities to solve math problems correlate with their knowledge in the English language (Parker), proving yet another importance of English.


A stack of books.

Many universities are beginning to acknowledge the importance of the study of English as a they require the grade 12 English course as a prerequisite.  Some universities have even gone as far to require English entrance exams, or any standardized testing to evaluate students’ knowledge of English (DegreefromCanada).

School aside, in general, a good grasp of the English language is useful in daily life.  From something as mundane as reading street signs to something as interesting as reading a good novel, a good working knowledge of English is needed for us to function in everyday life. Being a functioning and contributing member of society requires us to be well informed. To do that, we have to be able to read and understand newspapers, news websites and magazines. Even to surf the web requires a good working knowledge of English. How else can you be instructed on the use of computers or comprehend the texts on web pages? Grade 12 English also teaches writing skills, which are of vital importance when filling out job applications or preparing resumes.


An illustration of William Shakespeare, a famous playwright.

A common misconception is that English only teaches you how to read and write.  What many fail to see is that there is so much more to English than just reading and writing.  Through the many class novel studies of Shakespeare’s great works, we learn about life lessons and the history of English.  Whether it be the love story of Romeo and Juliet or ambitions of Macbeth, there are always lessons to be learned in the English classroom.  One of the reasons Shakespeare is relevant to this day is because “his works are universal and enduring, as are his characters” (Boston).  Learning about the English language is such an important part of the curriculum that so many people fail to understand.  This is why I believe in the importance of English and why it should be a requirement for university programs.

In conclusion, grade 12 English, like all English courses, is a prerequisite course in educating students, preparing them for post secondary education and preparing them to be literate, contributing members of society. This is why I believe in the importance of English and why it should be a requirement for university programs.

Works Cited

Boston, Michelle. “Six reasons Shakespeare remains relevant 400 years after his death.” USC News, 10 Feb. 2016. <;. Accessed 5 July 2017.

DegreeFromCanada. “7 Entrance Exams for Higher Education in Canada.” Degree From Canada, 4 July 2017. <;. Accessed 5 July 2017.

Naved, Zeeshan. “The Importance of the English Language in Today’s World.” Owlcation, 12 July 2015. <;. Accessed 5 July 2017.

Parker, Clifton B. “Stanford research shows long-run benefit of English instruction.” Stanford University, 24 Feb. 2014.<;. Accessed 5 July 2017.

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