English is one of the most popular undergraduate majors. Graduates go on to pursue careers in industries like education, sales and marketing, web management, and human resources. Internet-savvy English students - as well as experienced professionals - can greatly benefit from consulting the bevy of resources found online. This article will touch on the leading professional organizations, academic journals, trade magazines, and other tools that these individuals can access.
Many English degree-holders make valuable connections and advance their careers with the help of professional organizations. In exchange for a relatively small annual fee, they have access to conferences and other networking events, professional tutorial services, continuing education opportunities, and other perks exclusively available to registered members.
- National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE): This organization (founded in 1911) explores effective educational strategies for teachers working at all levels, from kindergarten to graduate-level academia. Members receive full access to online journals, career networking tools, and the opportunity to participate in annual events like the African American Read-In and National Day on Writing. Standard members must pay an annual due of $50; students receive a discounted price of $25 per year.
- American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA): Founded in 1948, this organization is geared toward freelance writers and journalists who publish magazine articles, textbooks, and other nonfiction works. Members receive up-to-date market data, contact information for editors and publishers, professional referrals, and updates about seminars and conferences in their area.
- PEN America: Founded in 1921 in London, PEN International is open to poets, essayists, novelists, and other individuals who make their living in creative writing. PEN America sponsors annual conferences, literary awards, writing contests, educational scholarships, and other programs geared toward both students of the craft and established professionals looking to advance in their careers. The organization's website also features an extensive resource library available to all visitors.
- Editorial Freelancers Association (EFA): While most English majors pursue careers in writing or teaching, some will eventually become professional editors. For those who work on a freelance basis (a significant contingent of the editing sector), this organization provides services and tutorials that focus on proofreading, web layout, content research, and other skills that are typically required of professional editors.
The advent of open courseware - free, web-based classes proctored by faculty members at some of the world's leading academic institutions - has made it simple for English students to supplement their traditional education. The following courses are available to anyone who is interested, regardless of their enrollment status or geographical location.
- Topics in Linguistic Theory - MIT: From writers and editors to teachers at all levels, linguistics is a fundamental of the English language that plays an active role in day-to-day work (whether we realize it or not). This course discusses phonetics, semantics, and grammatical structure of not only English, but also German, Quechua, and Tibetan, to identify common trends and practices across all languages.
- International Women's Voices - MIT: This course (taught by Prof. Margery Resnick) traces the historical role of female writers in North America, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Students will learn about not only the leading female voices in literature, but also the cultural, social, and political factors that have influenced their writing.
- Introduction to Theory of Literature - Yale: Paul H. Fry is one of Yale University's most decorated English professors, and in this course he uses some of the 20th century's best known works to explain the craft of writing prose. The curriculum incorporates varying (and at times, contrasting) philosophies and beliefs about the impact of writing on the author, the reader, and society in general.
- Modern Poetry - Yale: Langdon Hammer, Chairman of Yale's English Department, takes students on a tour of the 20th century's most recognized poets, such as T.S. Eliot, William Butler Yeats Ezra Pound, and Robert Frost. Hammer also discusses the important periods (like the Harlem Renaissance and the Imagist movement) that have shaped poetry into the far-reaching genre it is today.
Open Access Journals
Traditionally, academic journals have only been available to students and professors who were willing to pay a subscription fee. But today, many journals dedicated to literature, language theory, and other fields associated with the English language are open-access, meaning that anyone with an Internet connection can have full access to archived publications free-of-charge.
- Inquire: Journal of Comparative Literature: Drawing similarities and differences between texts is a major component of academic English studies, and this journal (maintained by graduate students at the University of Alberta) focuses on the myriad of social, cultural, and political themes used to compare literary works. The journal's administrators also strive to "promote the development of interdisciplinary research conducted by emerging scholars [and] create an international site that encourages open communication and collaborative creativity across the discipline."
- Journal of Writing Research (JoWR): Regardless of the field of discussion, grammar and written presentation are fundamental skills required to produce effective research. This publication emphasizes the craft of research writing and how it relates to social and physical sciences, psychology, information technology, and other academic fields. JoWR is especially beneficial to English degree-holders who would like to pursue careers in academia and conduct professional research studies.
- Kairos: A Journal of Rhetoric, Technology, and Pedagogy: Many English degree-holders eventually pursue careers that intersect with computer science and information technology; this journal focuses on the relationship between these two complementary fields. Since it first appeared in 1996, Kairos has produced between two and four issues per year; past entries include titles like "Digital Breadcrumbs: Case Studies of Online Research," and "Podcasting in a Writing Class? Considering the Possibilities."
If you major in English, then you'll read plenty of books during the course of your studies. But unlike classic novels and texts dealing with literary theory, these titles will assist individuals who make their living as technical writers, copy editors, teachers, and other careers closely linked to the English language.
- The Elements of Style, Fourth Edition: Arguably the most influential grammar and language text of the 20th century, this work by professor William Strunk, Jr., and novelist E.B. White has been read by millions since it first appeared nearly a century ago. The book covers punctuation rules, word-usage standards, form guidelines, and other 'elements' that are crucial to effective writing.
- The Associated Press Stylebook: Journalists, technical writers, web developers, and many other professional writers are required to use AP Style - a time-honored standard of prose that emphasizes conservative language and direct tone. Yearly editions are published to incorporate new jargon and acronyms, making this an essential purchase for any serious freelancer.
- Writer's Market: Issued annually, this compendium of publishing houses and publications is a very useful resource for all writers, especially those who primarily freelance. Writer's Market also provides leads about book awards and writing contests, contact information for agents and publishers, and tips about submitting articles for publication. Robert Lee Brewster served as editor for the 2014 version.
- Learning Teaching: The Essential Guide to English Language Education: First published 20 years ago, this guidebook presents the fundamentals of English education in a straightforward, narrative-driven manner. Author Jim Scrivener, who currently serves as Head of Teacher Development for Bell International, is a lifelong educator with more than a decade of experience teaching English in foreign countries (Kenya, the U.S.S.R., and Hungary).
- Technical Writer's Handbook: Many English degree-holders make their living as technical writers who produce content for trade magazines, marketing materials, and websites. Unlike prose, technical writing requires a straightforward tone, simple yet accurate vocabulary, and conservative word usage. This manual from author Matt Young covers all the basics of this particular writing craft.
Online Industry Magazines
Trade magazines differ from other magazine publications, in that they exclusively produce industry-related content and are intended for readers who work in that particular field. The following online trade magazine best serve those who work as writers, editors, teachers, and other careers associated with English degrees.
- Language Magazine: Formerly known as the American Language Review, this periodical first appeared in 1997. Topics of articles have ranged from news stories (i.e., bilingualism in U.S. border states) and interviews with noted linguists to tutorials for English teachers. Language Magazine is a monthly publication, and each issue can be accessed online free-of-charge.
- Poets & Writers: The official magazine of the large nonprofit organization of the same name, Poets & Writers features interviews with notable authors, tips for submitting written work, a calendar of upcoming conferences and residency opportunities, and contact information for agents and publishers. The magazine appears bi-monthly and has been available online since 2010.
- The Journalist: Introduced in 2010, this bi-monthly publication is the official magazine of the National Union of Journalists. The Journalist features a mix of news articles that press freedom, high-profile plagiarism cases, the intersection of technology and writing, and other topics related to the profession. All past issues are available in a digital flipbook format on the magazine's official website.
- Tech Writer Today: "Helping the world explore the art of content and communications" is the slogan of this magazine geared toward technical writers across different industries. The magazine is hosted by TechWhirl, a web-based content management firm, and writers are encouraged to submit their own work for publication.
Blogs take a much less formal approach than journals or trade magazines, but their content may be useful to those working in English-related professions. Additionally, bloggers who specialize in content about fields like writing, editing, and English teaching are generally well-versed in their respective field. Here are some of the best blogs for English professionals.
- The Linguist on Language: Canadian Steve Kaufman has devoted his career to linguistics (the study of different languages) and his blog focuses on interesting, and often humorous conversations he's had with people around the world. In his past entries, Kaufman has discussed the strategies for learning other languages (Korean is his latest project), as well as the various ways people communicate with one another when speaking the same language.
- The Creative Penn: Joanna Penn is a published author and motivational speaker from the United Kingdom, and her blog is devoted to tips and strategies for aspiring writers to employ. In addition to the blog, the Creative Penn website features a podcast, book listings, and links to writing and editing courses from ProWriter. In 2013, Ms. Penn was named among Guardian UK's list of the "Top 100 Creative Professionals in the UK."
- CopyBlogger: This is the official blog of the content solutions company of the same name, although the posts cover topics related to both creative and technical writing. CopyBlogger also features webinars, a forum for site visitors to network and exchange ideas, and a collection of ebooks that are available for purchase.
- Catlin Tucker, Honors English Teacher: This blog emphasizes English teaching with the use of blended learning and educational technology. Ms. Tucker is a high school teacher from California who has published one book on this subject, and regularly attends EdTech seminars and other conferences geared toward modern teachers. Most posts cover apps, software programs, and other digital tools that are highly useful in today's classrooms.
Who to Follow on Twitter
In just a few years, Twitter has evolved from a social media novelty into a cultural phenomenon - and today's career-minded individuals are encouraged to "follow" the leaders in their industry. The Twitter accounts listed below provide articles, web tutorials, and other resources that are useful for English professionals.
- NCTE: Like the professional organization that maintains the account, this Twitter handle strives to improve "literacy teaching and learning" for students of all ages. The NCTE hosts regular online discussion panels; information about these events, as well as links to helpful articles and resources throughout the Web, are posted several times per day.
- Poets & Writers: In addition to articles from current issues of the magazine, @poetswritersinc shares articles and editorials from various authors, many of whom are affiliated with the organization. More than 71,000 people currently follow this handle, making it one of the most popular Twitter accounts that is specifically geared toward English professionals.
- Int TEFL Academy: This account is designed for teachers who are hoping to earn the credentials (such as a TEFL TESOL certificate) to teach English in a foreign country. Links focus on strategies for taking certification exams, guidelines for applying to work in certain countries, and tips for succeeding abroad.
- ReadWrite: Emphasizing online writing, editing, and social media platforms, ReadWrite boasts a following of more than 1.3 million Twitter users. This account uploads an average of more than 20 posts per day, and hosts numerous online discussions and webinars for followers to "attend."