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11th grade English Language Arts skills: Find out what you need to know for your student

In 11th grade, your child's work in reading and writing continues to build upon the progress they made in earlier grades.
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Want to help your 11th-grader in English Language Arts? Here are some of the skills your child will be learning in the classroom.

Reading & writing

Rich and challenging texts

Read closely from rich and challenging 11th grade level texts, with guidance when text is particularly demanding. By the end of 12th grade, read grade level texts closely, proficiently, and independently.

Some sample texts for 11th and 12th graders:

  • "Crime and Punishment" by Fyodor Dostoevsky
  • “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” by T. S. Eliot
  • "The Declaration of Independence" Thomas Jefferson
  • "Walden" by Henry David Thoreau.
  • "Declaration of Sentiments" by the Seneca Falls Conference.
  • "Executive Order 13423: Strengthening Federal Environmental, Energy, and Transportation Management," U.S. General Services Administration
  • “Gravity in Reverse: The Tale of Albert Einstein’s ‘Greatest Blunder’” by Neil DeGrasse Tyson

Citing evidence

Cite strong evidence to explain what a literary or informational text clearly says, what it leaves uncertain, and what is implied or suggested.

Analyzing theme development

Analyze the way an author develops two or more themes or central ideas, noting how the themes or ideas build to produce a complex story or analysis. Summarize the text.

Evaluating reasoning

Explain and evaluate the reasoning that supports argument, including arguments made in major American legal and political texts (for example, the way constitutional principles apply to U.S. Supreme Court decisions).

Understanding vocabulary

Read and understand 11th and 12th grade vocabulary. Analyze the way an author’s word choices impact the meaning of a text, including words with multiple meanings (trunk, cell, function), or language that is particularly engaging, as in the works of Shakespeare. Follow the meaning of key terms throughout a text (such as faction in "Federalist No. 10").

Using new words and phrases

Use different strategies for understanding new words and phrases; for example, use context as a clue; use related words as a clue (conceive, conception, conceivable); consult a dictionary or thesaurus online or in print.

Supporting arguments

Write arguments to support claims on important topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence. Develop claims and counterclaims fairly, providing the most relevant evidence for each while also pointing out their strengths and limitations.

Informative papers

Write informative or explanatory papers that examine a topic and express ideas by carefully selecting and analyzing information. Develop the topic by presenting the most significant and relevant evidence.

Creating stories

Write stories or narratives about real or fictional experiences. Set out a problem, situation, or observation and relate its significance; establish one or more points of view; and develop story elements such as characters, a well-sequenced plot, and descriptive details.

Supporting evidence

Include evidence from text to support thinking and research.

Producing and publishing

Use technology to produce and publish ideas, to get feedback, and to gain new ideas.

Applying grammar rules

Use conventional capitalization, punctuation, and spelling, and apply the rules of grammar in written work. Understand that the rules of usage vary, and resolve issues by consulting a dictionary or other reference work.

Listening & speaking

Class discussion

Initiate and participate in class discussions about complex 11th and 12th grade topics, texts, and issues. Be prepared to draw on textual evidence or research when expressing ideas, to respond thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, to resolve disagreements when possible, and to recommend additional research that would deepen the investigation.

Evaluating points of view

Listen to and evaluate another speaker’s point of view, reasoning, use of evidence, and overall effectiveness in presenting ideas.

Tip: Ask your child's opinion.

Include your child in conversations about news developments and world events, as well as family matters. Ask for his opinion on important topics and listen carefully to his responses. Ask him to back up his opinions and statements with evidence.

Giving a presentation

Give a well-organized presentation that expresses a unique perspective and addresses alternative or opposing points of view, keeping the audience and purpose in mind.

Research & inquiry

Research projects

Conduct short and long research projects to answer a research question, including a self-created question, or to solve a problem. Combine information from multiple print and online sources, showing an understanding of the subject.

Tip: Include writing in family traditions.

Help your child be a part of your family holiday traditions and include writing at the same time. Have him interview elderly family members or friends about their traditions in celebrating the holidays. He can then turn the information from these interviews into several kinds of writing, from photos with captions to illustrated stories to poems. These writings could turn into a special and much-valued gift to the family member or friend.

Locating information

Locate information efficiently; use advanced search methods online.

Evaluating sources

Evaluate the strengths and limitations of each source in addressing the task, purpose and audience. Use information selectively, and cite sources appropriately to avoid plagiarizing or copying.

For tips to help your 11th-grader in English Language Arts class, check out our 11th grade English Language Arts tips page.

Parent Toolkit resources were developed by NBC News Learn with the help of subject-matter experts, and align with the Common Core State Standards.