Q&A with former English student Caitlin

What made you choose to study English at Priestley College? How did it differ from GCSE English?

I absolutely loved studying English at GCSE (both literature and language). It allowed me to be expressive and view things from perspectives unthought of when casually reading. Written subjects also seemed to be a strength of mine compared to other subjects in high school, so I felt like I would excel if I continued to study English at Priestley. I chose to study literature as I preferred studying the thematic content of texts, rather than evaluating the formation of language. Studying English at Priestley differed vastly from GCSE due to the intensity of work and difficulty of texts; however because of this, it was thought provoking and enjoyable.


What were the best aspects of studying English at Priestley?

The best aspects of studying English at Priestley, in my opinion, was the literature studied as well as the freedom to use external texts to analyse chosen works. All of the texts chosen to study by Priestley had a lot of depth and complexity, which made them very interesting to study. As each text was from a different time period, it allowed me to broaden my contextual knowledge and apply that to each text, as well as identify the development of styles and themes throughout the ages. It was also fascinating to see how poetry and novels intertwined. For example, Thomas Hardy’s ‘Tess of the D’Urbervilles’ was almost a thematic continuation from Hardy’s poem ‘The Ruined Maid’. As we were able to study both texts, this was enjoyable as direct links could be made, and it enhanced contextual knowledge.

Being able to venture outside of the required reading list to study a novel independently, to then analyse it against a chosen work for coursework, was also a great aspect of studying English at Priestley. It led to more independence and provided us with the opportunity to write about any theme we wanted, which made it very interesting and fun to write!


What do you love about the English language?

I love the complexity of the English language, and how words can be utilised to infer alternative meanings in certain contexts. It really fascinates me how a piece of text can be read differently for each person. With literature, it could perhaps be a simple read, but when contextualised and analysed, it can become quite complex and can offer a more in-depth perspective.

English Language focuses primarily on the dynamics of why someone subconsciously chooses a word, which is really interesting to comprehend as it allows you to understand that each word or phrase has a meaning. English Literature is the opposite, as it focuses on purposeful choices made by authors, playwrights and poets. All of this accumulates into varieties of texts which unravel a story (fiction or nonfiction), and it is quite remarkable to think about.


What aspects of English interest you the most and why? ie literature, journalism, marketing

The aspect of English that interests me the most is definitely literature. Literature provides escapism into worlds of creativity and inspiration. Each literary text allows you to examine characters psychologically or sociologically, which makes you more invested in the story. It also provides us with a deeper understanding of history and culture, through setting and context from the time written. Literature is so powerful as it has the ability to change societal norms, but also join people from all walks of earth together, which is incredible.


Do you have a favourite book and why?

I would have to say that my favourite book is ‘A Christmas Carol’ by Charles Dickens. I feel like it is so cleverly written and is very thorough regarding the characters and imagery surrounding that, but is also a nice read. As it was written in Victorian England, it contains a lot of the language used in that period, which is really intriguing as it highlights how language has developed over the years. I also love the fact that it was aimed to enforce change, and for society to acknowledge the poor. I find novels that mirror the typicalities of the time, but also are creative so that it is enjoyable, are interesting to read, and ‘A Christmas Carol’ definitely matches that criteria.


What opportunities did studying English at Priestley open up for you?

Studying English at Priestley gave me the opportunity to become an English tutor. I really enjoyed English, and wanted to provide students with the same love for it whilst studying for their GCSEs. English at Priestley provided me with the tools to do so, as I gained a lot more knowledge and how to be more analytical when studying texts. It also helped a lot with other subjects (such as writing my EPQ), as I had to learn how to skim read and focus on significant pieces of text.


Do you have a career in mind, if yes what is it and why is this something you want to do?

I am studying Healthcare Science (Physiological Sciences) at University as I aspire to have a career in Cardiac Physiology. I want to do this as I am really passionate about working in the NHS, and I love learning about physiological systems, primarily the heart. However, I also wanted to have this career as it has elements of English as well through written reports. I still would like to tutor English in my free time as I am still very passionate about it, and would love to keep reading and studying new texts.

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