New English elective to teach communication skills

Emily Hwang and Aisha Chabane

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The Palo Alto High School English Department will offer a new semester-long elective that focuses on students’ business and communication skills for the 2015-16 school year.

The class is called Communication and Leadership. English teacher Lucy Filppu, who will be teaching one period of the class each semester, says the University of California-approved course will teach students practical skills regarding persuasive writing, speech writing and presentation, leadership, business models and effective communication, while also incorporating literature into the curriculum.

“We recognize our students need more global economy skills,” Filppu said. “We’re going to apply literature to what it means to communicate.”

Photo by Aisha Chabane

English teacher Lucy Filppu speaks to her class. Filppu will be teaching a new elective called Communication and Leadership next year. “This class is great for everybody,” Filppu said. Photo by Aisha Chabane

Students in the Sports Career Pathway will be required to take the elective, but the course is open to everyone, Filppu says.

According to Filppu, the course focuses on listening and speaking rather than on the traditional disciplines of reading and writing.

“I think in the English Department, we privilege writing,” Filppu said. “I don’t think we do enough with speaking.”

Henry M. Gunn High School’s Advanced Communications class is the template for the new course at Paly. Filppu says that the class is immensely popular and successful at Gunn.

Isha Gupta, a sophomore at Gunn, took Advanced Communications last year.

“I thought Communications was extremely useful because it taught universal skills that could be applicable to any future career,” Gupta said.

For more information regarding the class, contact Filppu at lfilppu@pausd.org.