Developmental English

What is Developmental English?
Who takes Developmental English?
What do students say about Developmental English?
What happens in Developmental English courses?
Who teaches Developmental English on the Alexandria Campus?

What is Developmental English?

Developmental English courses are standard offerings in most American colleges. They give students a chance to improve their English reading and writing skills in order to be successful in higher academic courses. Developmental English is designed for native-speakers. It is not English as a Second Language.

Who Takes Developmental English?

Students who take the Compass English placement test on the Alexandria Campus are placed in English courses according to their scores in the reading and writing sections. Some students who are placed in Developmental English may have been out of school for several years, working or raising a family or completing military service. Others are recent U.S. high school graduates. All students write a short essay on the first day of class so that we can be sure placements are correct.

Quotes from Students of Developmental English Courses

What do students say about their reading and writing at the end of a Developmental English course?

"I learned more in this English class than I ever did in high school."
"These reading assignments let our imagination do all the work. Seeing in my mind what happens in a book really gets me going."
"The I-Search project proved that I can do it, and must never sell myself short."
"Now I don't get nervous and think negatively when I hear the word 'essay.'"
"My vocabulary increased so my papers sound more on a college level, as opposed to high school."
"I learned that I'm an excellent reader, and since reading Song of Solomon I have developed a passion for it that maybe one day can take me somewhere."
"I feel very prepared because I learned the tools of doing a research paper."
"If you compare my old writing to my writing now you will see great improvement. Before, my writing was very choppy. Now, my ideas flow."
"Now I'm more open-minded about different ideas. For example, in my I-Search project I viewed both opinions of the bosses and the migrant workers."
"Our group discussions helped me improve my public speaking skills."
"The grades on my writing assignments outside of class are better."
"Reading books was the key to my improvement. I saw some of the same words, so I learned how to spell them. Reading gave me a chance to explore the depths of my mind and to be creative."
"I've been blessed by taking this course. It taught me how to express myself on paper, and allowed my usage of words to expand. [Changing] my thought pattern has also changed how I view the world. Instead of looking at it one-sided, I see how it is from other views."

What do students say about their instructors?

"He makes us feel better about ourselves."
"She encourages you to think and do your best."
"She makes learning easy no matter what the student's learning style."
"He does not give up on students."
"He is always encouraging and loves his job."
"She is a great teacher and won't let you give up."
"He will take the time to make sure you understand what he's explaining."
"She's hard but she's fair."
"He is one of the ones who cares!"
"We've become a class and not just a room full of bodies."

What Happens in Developmental English Courses?

Some students in ENG 001 and 003 (the writing courses) are surprised to find that they read a lot. We know that people who read well become better writers. Students read good contemporary fiction and nonfiction books, as well as The Washington Post. In recent terms, students have read works by Toni Morrison, August Wilson, J.D. Salinger, Elva Hart, and Rick Bragg. Writing assignments may include journals, paragraphs, brief essays, research papers, interviews and poems. All papers go through many stages of drafting and revising. Assignments in ENG 003 are considerably longer and harder than assignments in ENG 001. Both writing courses teach grammar skills.

Students in ENG 004 and 005 (the reading courses) also read a lot, and focus on specific reading skills such as vocabulary, summarizing, and outlining. In recent terms, they have read a science fiction book about slavery, a scientist's memoir of growing up in West Virginia coalfields, a novel about lawyers and street people, a reporter's memoir of growing up poor in Alabama, as well as The Washington Post. Assignments in ENG 004 focus on basic reading skills. Assignments in ENG 005 ask students to show a deeper and more accurate understanding of their reading, and to write a series of analytical papers.

All students learn to research topics on the Internet, as well as to use the campus library and a variety of applications in the Computer Center. All students can get free consultations on papers from trained student consultants at the Writing Assistance Center.

Who Teaches Developmental English Courses at Alexandria?

Nancy Hoagland
B.S., Athens College; M.S., Jacksonville State University; Ph.D., Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Denny May
B.A., Duke University; M.A. West Chester State College

Barry Selinger
B.A., M.A. American University; Ph.D., Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Kathy Wax
B.A., University of Massachusetts; M.Ed. Georgia State University