English but not as a foreign language
September 27, 2007 3:42 PM   Subscribe

What do other countries call the class/major Americans call "english"?

I was talking to an Chilean high school exchange student and I asked her what their equivalent of English class is. In her country, English is a language class, but I know it as reading and analyzing novels and analytical and creative writing. I'm sure I asked in a muddled way and I didn't get a chance to clarify.

What is it called in other countries? Writing and Literature? And what about job applications to other countries? What would an English major put down?
posted by spec80 to Education (25 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Here in Latvia, my students translate whatever the title in their language (Russian or Latvian, depending on the school) is as "literature class."
posted by mdonley at 3:52 PM on September 27, 2007 [1 favorite]

"Literature" or "Classics".
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 3:57 PM on September 27, 2007

posted by k8t at 3:59 PM on September 27, 2007

Keep in mind of course that putting your degree as "literature" on a resume when it's really "English" according to the school that granted it to you could be construed as misrepresentation.
posted by Space Coyote at 4:04 PM on September 27, 2007

In Canadian elementary and junior high it was called "Language Arts", I don't know if that's common across the border or not. (We call it English the rest of the time.) French language study in Canada and France is "Français", similarly.

It would make most sense to put down one's degree as "English" when it's in English. It is a degree in the study of the language, after all, not literature in general.
posted by blacklite at 4:05 PM on September 27, 2007

I don' t think it requires additional explanation. If I saw a person from a Spanish-speaking country with a major of "Spanish" on his or her resume I'd assume that it would be analogous to an English degree in English-speaking countries.
posted by marionnette en chaussette at 4:07 PM on September 27, 2007

Best answer: When I studied in Brazil, at the high school level, we had three Portuguese classes -- Grammar, Composition, Literature which covered the same sort of stuff that might be covered in a single high school 'English' class in Canada.

That said, we also had 3 Chemistry classes, 3 Biology classes, 3 Physics classes, 3 Math classes, 3 History classes and 3 Geography classes, each focused on a different discipline within the broader subject, so that wasn't special for Portuguese. We also had 2 English classes, but I was never convinced they were particularly separate in focus.

If they referred to the classes as a group, as they might, for example, when they had to write a test, because all 3 classes in a subject would be on the same test, they'd use the obvious grouping name. Chemistry. Physics. Portuguese.

That suggests to me that someone who did such a broad reaching study of their native language as is suggested by an English degree in a North American school would have a degree in "Portugues" from a Brazilian school.

They would probably also know how to type the accents in the word portugues. Unlike me.
posted by jacquilynne at 4:15 PM on September 27, 2007

In Malaysia, English classes in secondary school covered language, communication, and literature. The literature component was a more recent addition - previously that was only offered to those taking an English Literature subject. Likewise for Malay.
posted by divabat at 4:24 PM on September 27, 2007

Best answer: I was an English major, and I learned quick that when abroad, the correct answer to "what did you study at university?" (or some such question) is "literature."

Keep in mind of course that putting your degree as "literature" on a resume when it's really "English" according to the school that granted it to you could be construed as misrepresentation.

As far as this goes...my diploma says "English Literature." Just calling the major "English" is actually a sort of abbreviation, because the "literature" part is implied when you're talking to another American.
posted by bingo at 4:37 PM on September 27, 2007

In Poland, the equivalent of an american high school english class is called 'język polski' (or just polski for short) which means, in literal translation: Polish Language (or just Polish)
posted by jedrek at 4:41 PM on September 27, 2007

The translation of the degree depends on what the degree was. At some schools (even in anglo countries), you get an English Literature degree. Others grant a degree in English. In others, it's Literature and Composition. It really depends on the degree itself.
posted by acoutu at 5:02 PM on September 27, 2007

Best answer: growing up in the Philippines, in grade school we had Tagalog classes, which covered composition and Tagalog grammar mechanics. We also had English classes, focusing on English grammar and composition. Then our literature classes covered notable works of literature in both Tagalog and English. Interestingly, there was also a language bifurcation in that our math and science classes were always conducted in English (presumably because all of our texts were legacy American/Australian textbooks) but history / civics and language were conducted in Tagalog.

Then for the hardcore intellectuals / kids from old-fashioned wealthy families, there were the electives for Spanish and Spanish lit.
posted by bl1nk at 5:04 PM on September 27, 2007

Lots of schools in the US call it "Language Arts" now too.
posted by clh at 5:12 PM on September 27, 2007

In Japanese, it's known as 'kokugo' -- country-language, implying 'the language of our country,' that is, Japanese. However, 'nihongo' (Japan-language) is what non-native speakers study, while 'kokugo' is what native speakers study.
posted by Jeanne at 6:02 PM on September 27, 2007

German universities call English (as a major) 'English' (technically they call it Englisch, but you get the idea).

Some schools call German 'German' (again, technically, Deutsch) and others call it Germanistik, which more or less means 'German language and literature.'
posted by jedicus at 6:18 PM on September 27, 2007

In my high school it was known as English Lit.
posted by tomble at 7:06 PM on September 27, 2007

In my schools (New Jersey) it was called Language Arts up to high school, at which point it was called English.
posted by lsemel at 7:07 PM on September 27, 2007

German universities call English (as a major) 'English' (technically they call it Englisch, but you get the idea).

Some schools call German 'German' (again, technically, Deutsch) and others call it Germanistik, which more or less means 'German language and literature.'

It's actually the other way round. In school, the subjects are simply called Deutsch and Englisch.

At university, they're called Germanistik and Anglistik (or Amerikanistik) unless you're studying to be a teacher.
posted by snownoid at 7:25 PM on September 27, 2007

Here, in Victorian schools, we have four English programmes that students can choose from in their final years at high school. One is ESL (English as a Second Language) and the other three are English, English Literature and English Language.

English is by far the most popular option; with 43,000 students completing it each year. This is followed by Literature (5,300), ESL (3,200) and English Language (1,600).

English is the all-encompassing subject and includes smatterings of textual responses, language analysis, oral presentations and the like. Literature is more concerned with reading as many novels and plays as humanly possible and responding to them critically. English Language is more concerned with linguistics: it focuses on the morphology, construction, syntax and nature of the very language.
posted by PuGZ at 8:25 PM on September 27, 2007

Best answer: In Norway, it's simply called norsk (Norwegian) and covers both grammar, composition, literature, analysis etc.

Around age 13-14 (don't know what grade that is equivalent to) the subject norsk gets split into hovedmål and sidemål, covering both flavours of Norwegian with bokmål for the nynorsk crowd and nynorsk for the bokmål crowd.
In the north in certain areas (for certain kids) there is also the option of Sámi. It seems unfair to make kids learn three languages, so they probably don't have to take nynorsk and just take Sámi instead.

The classes for learning second and third languages are also simply called by the name of the language, i.e. spansk for Spanish class, fransk for French class.
posted by esilenna at 1:04 AM on September 28, 2007

Canadian schooling here...

"Language Arts" up to grade 8.

"English" or "Honours English" in grades 9 and 10.

In the last two years of high school we got specialized english courses. "Technical English", "Transactional English" and "Literary English". Transactional and Literary were considered essentially equivalent in difficulty, but had a different focus.
posted by utsutsu at 8:15 AM on September 28, 2007

It's been a while so things might be different, and I'm real fuzzy on this now so if anyone going to school in Korea right at this moment has any corrections/additions, do jump in, but in Korea the general grammar/lit type of class is called 국어/"kuk-uh" (basically translates to "National Language"). That's the overall term for it. Around first grade the kuk uh class will also have a 받아쓰기/"bad ah sseu gi" component, which is pretty much dictation. You practice writing down what is read to you to make sure you get spelling and placement of articles and what have you correct. Lots of reading and listening comprehension and things like that. Some lit (문학/"moon-hak") thrown in as you go up.

Now if you're talking about majors, then you'd have specific descriptors going on. In college if you were a Korean lit or languages major, you'd fall under the Korean Language and Literature department (국어국문학과/"kuk-uh kuk moon hak kwah"), which covers even classical Chinese lit [한문학/"Han moon-hak"] like, I don't know, "Romance of the Three Kingdoms" (삼국지/"Sam kuk ji") or something since that would be part of classical Korean literature too considering Chinese was the written language for a long time. Same thing for foreign language/lit, though there is a separate Chinese Languages and Literature (중어중문학/"joong-uh joong moon hak kwa") department even if han moon hak falls under the Korean lang/lit department. For example, an English lit major, would be part of English Languages and Literature (영어영문학과/"yung-uh yung-moon hak kwa").

...or something like that.
posted by kkokkodalk at 8:47 AM on September 28, 2007

Oops, forgot to add that if you were in middle/high school and were taking a foreign language. Foreign language classes are just called by the name of the language like here. Yung-uh for English or ilbon-uh for Japanese, etc.
posted by kkokkodalk at 9:00 AM on September 28, 2007

Here in the Netherlands it is Dutch Language and Literature, English Language and Literature etc. If you were just talking about what you studied, people would abbreviate that to simply Dutch or English. We also have a completely seperate major Literature Science (Literatuurwetenschappen). If you said to me you studied Literature, I would assume a totally different major than if you said you studied English.
posted by davar at 9:48 AM on September 28, 2007

In Chile, the equivalent high-school class is called "Castellano". Grammar, literature, composition.
The equivalent university major is called "Letras", literally "Letters", which translates as "Literature".
posted by signal at 10:24 AM on September 29, 2007

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