Learning perspective and expression through discussion and writing


The Taipei American School English Department, led by Department Chair Dr. Owen Lipsett (he/him), teaches students to analyze literature and apply critical thinking skills to the world around them. 

TAS English teachers work together to prioritize creating safe spaces for students to discuss and express their ideas. “It is really important to me that everybody’s voice is heard, and that people are able to agree and also disagree respectfully to learn from one another and reach a harmonious consensus,” Dr. Lipsett said. Students learn to be more confident in their ideas as a result of being encouraged to speak up. The balance between writing and speaking in English classes enables students to articulate their ideas more effectively. They also learn to approach literary texts in creative and thoughtful ways, often considering the context and the purpose behind works from a variety of different genres. 

“I think TAS English teachers do a great job at encouraging students to read works of literature for themselves, and reflect on what it means to them instead of just seeking the ‘correct answer’,” AP English Literature and Composition student Spencer Chang (‘21, he/him) said. Developing complex ideas enables students to learn to think critically about a variety of topics from different perspectives. 

English teachers also encourage students to apply creativity by organizing projects and presentations in class. For example, students in AP English Language and Composition classes have the opportunity to create a passion project to share their hobbies and interests with their classmates. 

Similarly, in AP English Literature and Composition, students have the opportunity to develop creative responses to books which they then present to the class and which often becomes part of the course curriculum in subsequent years. Past projects have included painting, rapping, programming, writing an original manga-themed retelling dramatic retelling of a novel and even cooking. 

Teachers also inspire students to apply skills they learn in English classes to the outside world, and help students recognize that literature is not only confined to the classroom. “The value of learning English [as a discipline] is that you are learning how to understand other people, how to understand yourself, and [how] to make meaning out of the world around us,” Dr. Lipsett said.