What can I do with a degree in English Language?

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 Are you curious about how the English language works? Are you fascinated by how it has changed over centuries? Or even how individuals vary their use of English from one day to the next, depending on social situation or communication medium? Ever thought about how a person’s early experience of English shapes them? Or how and why Aotearoa New Zealand English differs from the language spoken in other English-speaking countries?

English Language studies aim to satisfy these curiosities and illuminate even further; focusing on the structure, functions and contexts of use of English. Students learn about the sound systems and grammatical systems of English, and how English varies in different historical, geographical and social contexts.

By majoring in English Language graduates develop a set of skills that are highly valued. These include:

  • Advanced literacy and communication skills
  • Knowledge of different kinds of language use, metalanguage and formal terminology
  • Ability to acquire and record complex, diverse data
  • Advanced analytical capability including analysis of quantitative data
  • Understanding of the English language
  • Critical thinking
  • Oral and written communication
  • Intercultural awareness
  • Research skills
  • Presentation skills
  • Information technology skills including data manipulation.

Opportunities to apply your learning outside the classroom are available in this major. Undertaking an internship, for example, can deepen your skillset, your awareness of others, working knowledge, and employability.

English Language provides the foundation for any career which requires advanced communication skills and/or a detailed understanding of the English language, such as teaching, management, marketing, the media, research and publishing.

Increasingly, sectors such as healthcare and business are placing more importance on how competently employees communicate with customers or patients verbally and non-verbally.

Graduates may be employed in organisations in Aotearoa New Zealand or around the world, whether it’s in a commercial language school, development organisation, government department, multinational company, volunteer organisation, educational or training institution, community language centre, or religious centre.

Graduates of this major often take up the opportunity to teach English in places such as:

  • Asia eg, Vietnam, Korea, Japan and China
  • South America eg, Mexico, Peru, Guatemala, Costa Rica
  • Europe eg, Czech Republic, Spain, England.

In the last two years, over 10 different employers have been recruiting recent New Zealand graduates to teach English overseas.

English Language graduates share many of the same career destinations as graduates of Linguistics, and Media and Communication.

Note: Some of the jobs listed may require postgraduate study. See the ‘Further study’ section.

Examples:

Secondary school English teacher

  • Plans and delivers instructional lessons
  • Evaluates performance and provides feedback
  • Sets and marks assignments and tests

Teacher of English to speakers of other languages

  • Analyses students’ reading, writing, speaking and listening abilities and assesses their needs
  • Designs and prepares learning materials
  • Presents lessons or tutorials; including on local knowledge and skills for coping in a new place

English language tutor

  • Plans lessons according to a student’s ability
  • Teaches students subject knowledge and skills
  • Discusses progress with whānau or caregivers

Cultural or community support coordinator

  • Administers support programmes for diverse groups eg, refugees
  • Develops confidence in participants and identifies opportunities for them
  • Works with community members and other agencies to build connections

Early childhood teacher

  • Educates and cares for babies and children
  • Plans daily programmes and learning
  • Develops early literacy, language, numeracy

Primary school teacher

  • Plans and prepares lessons and activities for children aged 5-13 years
  • Teaches and marks subjects including English
  • Develops children’s social skills and behaviours

Journalist / media / public relations

  • Researches and produces stories for different types of media and purposes
  • Interviews and consults people
  • Selects accurate and relevant content for the reader, listener or viewer

Publisher / editor

  • Plans and commissions content for publication
  • Evaluates, edits and organises material for multiple formats — online and in print
  • Liaises with other staff to oversee production

Research analyst / advisor / assistant

  • Organises and conducts research surveys
  • Tests theories and interprets the results
  • Writes reports and makes recommendations

Technical writer

  • Uses clear, concise and appropriate language to communicate on technical products
  • Works with technical software and personnel

Entrepreneur and CEO

  • Develops an idea, product or service
  • Offers services as a freelancer/consultant

Get started with Entrepreneurship here

As they progress, students and graduates often join professional bodies or organisations relevant to their area of interest. These organisations can provide regular communications and offer the chance to network with others in a community.

Social media networks such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter can provide avenues to keep up-to- date with industry knowledge, networking opportunities, events and job vacancies.

For more information

see the English Language subject page