The Necessity of Grade 12 English and Ways to Accommodate University Applicants

Time changes everything, everything except the fact that a set prerequisite for all programs in Ontario universities is the Grade 12 University Level English. Take the University of Guelph as an example, where Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Computing, and Bachelor of Landscape Architecture all have English as a requirement. It does not matter whether they’re applying to social sciences, or engineering, students will need to have that ENG4U credit. But why is this credit so important, and how can we accommodate those who struggle with it?

Ontario, along with most of Canada, is predominantly English speaking. Most schools and businesses operate in English, so if anyone plans to be a part of society in Canada, it would make sense that they were expected to have a good grasp on the language. No matter what program they want to get into or the career they want to have, communication will be necessary, and one of our most important tools for that is language! It could be writing reports, speeches, slogans, or programs, they WILL have to use English one way or another, and that is the reason Grade 12 English is of such importance.

Martin Luther King, "I Have a Dream"
Martin Luther King’s I Have a Dream: an excellent example of using one’s knowledge of language effectively

English 4U focuses on students’ ability of comprehending written text and communicating effectively, through writing and spoken language. ENG4U is only the basics of what is about to come in post secondary, so it would make sense that every program has this specific course as a requirement. Business people, engineers, social workers, and teachers are a few of the many that need strong communication skills for success in the workplace.

Diverse Multiethnic People with Different Jobs
All occupations require an adequate level of communication skills

HOWEVER, that is not to say there are no issues with our current Grade 12 English being a prerequisite for all university programs.

As anyone would argue, people have different strengths. A student who is a math genius and wants to be an engineer might not be very interested in or good at writing a 10 page essay on the motives of a fictional character from a dystopian novel! I have always loved reading and analyzing literature, but I know many people who absolutely despise it. It would be unfair for a capable student to be rejected because their ENG4U average is not satisfactory despite excelling in other subjects. Although the point of writing all those essays is to practice effective communication, which includes backing up arguments and giving proof, the course could be more practical.

An alternative to changing ENG4U would be having another English course that focuses on work oriented communication. The new course could focus on things such as presentations and project reports, which are common in many workplaces. Taking into consideration the average of an engineering or business applicant in this new course would be more logical than looking at their average in our current Grade 12 English.

To conclude, the system is flawed. Yes, it is reasonable for English to be a prerequisite for all university programs because everyone needs to be capable of communicating effectively. However, the current Grade 12 English content is not necessarily suitable for students who plan on majoring in programs that have to do with mathematics and most sciences.


“Office of Registrarial Services Undergraduate Admission 2017.” Specific Subject Requirements – Ontario | Undergraduate Admission 2017 | University of Guelph. University of Guelph, n.d. Web. 18 September 2017.