Sophomore English Curriculum

Sophomore English curriculum is dominated by the study of persuasive literature; that is why for decades it has always included Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of Julius Caesar. 

In keeping with that idea the persuasive essay is practiced and hopefully mastered. Becoming a proficient writer in this type of essay is essential for two reasons.

One is that this has been the writing prompt for the No Child Left Behind (now being replaced by Common Core standards) tests across the United States for many years, and while you are free to homeschool now, things change.

Second, people for every day of their lives have to convince other people of something. That's persuasion.

Learning to recognize persuasive techniques in writing, advertising propaganda, political commentaries, and other literature is an essential part of the sophomore English curriculum.

Mathematics teaches logic, science teaches deductive reasoning, and the sophomore English curriculum makes it possible to become a more learned citizen capable of seeing through fallacious thinking and illogical arguments that appear, well – everywhere.

Read my humble observations about this unique year and the sophomore stage of personal development.

Sophomore Literature

In the sophomore English curriculum, the literature and readings for this year will include:

Propaganda and Fallacious Thinking –

Go to the material on this website. Honestly, I can’t believe there is a web source with such expansive, detailed information about fallacious thinking.

If you choose not to have your teenager read all the material here, she should read the ALL the fallacies. It is short, but she should study the definitions.

Poe's stories and poems

Edgar Allan Poe is the inventor of the detective story with “Murders in the Rue Morgue” and “The Purloined Letter.” Poe edited literary magazines and was a respected editor and writer among other writers of his time.

Since your teenager has the freedom to read more than her confined, regimented peers in the public schools, she should read as much as she cares of Poe. I recommend the two detective stories above, “The Cask of Amontillado,” “The Masque of the Red Death,” and at least three of his poems.

Although Poe is part of the sophomore English curriculum, because he is an American author, your teenager also will read more of his stories during the Romantic period of literature in the 11th grade English.


Here is a quite engaging performance by Tay Zonday of "The Tell Tale Heart."



Novels – In my humble opinion, based on teaching the sophomore English curriculum for at least 10 years, except for the persuasive emphasis, this year is just another hodge podge year without much focus on any particular genre. However, if your teenager will read these novels, she will get a greater sense of world literature.

I honestly believe she will develop a sense of how persuasion is used throughout the world and for numerous reasons.

Therefore, I would like to recommend that your teenager read at least four of the following novels: 

  • One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Nobel Prize Russian author Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (He was kicked out of Russia and eventually sought exile in the United States.  After the fall of Russia, he returned and died there in 2008.)
  • Cyrano de Bergerac by French author Edmond Rostan
  • Jáccuse by Emile Zola.  Here is an essay in which he accuses the French government of anti-Semitism. The essay was published on the front page of a LÁurore French newspaper. The end result of it is that the French government passed a law separating church and state. Think about that – one powerfully written, persuasive letter changed the government. It not only reminds teenagers about the power of one, but also the power in the written word. 
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. While this book has many themes, it also will explore stubborn, illogical prejudices and how to deal different characters act and react to them. 
  • Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad. This is an excellent book of the ivory trade in the Congo River Basin during the summer of 1890. It is based on reality, and is yet another book that ignited the reform movement against the brutal hunting of ivory and exploitation and murder of Africans during this time.  

Sophomore English Curriculum Vocabulary

The vocabulary that your teenager will study should continue with the same  500 SAT vocabulary words she studied her freshman year. Here’s why and how to do it:

Why? Because it’s 500 words.

 Divide 500 by three years (She shouldn't be study words her senior year; she should be reviewing and taking SAT tests.) and that’s 166 words a year.

Divide that by 36 weeks and that’s 4.6 words a week. Well, anyone can learn 4.6 words per week.

If your teenager maintains a modified/reduced study schedule for the summer, then, she could study three words a week.

However, I have an alternative learning schedule because few students’ lives are that even-keeled.

How about this instead?  Have your teenager study four weeks on and a week off, and study nine words during week one. Test on them to make sure she has learned the basic definition by the end of the first week.

Then, review by writing sentences using the words, and listening for and using them in conversation the second week.  The idea is to vary the learning techniques so that the process stays fresh because if it becomes boring and mundane, it won’t get done. Trust me – it doesn't matter how important the task is.

Here’s another idea. How about study nine legal terms one week? Simply look through the list and pick out nine legal terms. The next week, pick out nine medical terms, the next week; choose all words that have French origins.

Choose, nine –ant words like aberrant and adamant, and abundant, etc.

After a while, she will naturally pick up what the suffix –ant means, and she will learn the words more quickly.  

Mix it up and learning vocabulary will be much easier.

Do the same with the sentences. One week all the sentences have to have the word ZOMBIE in them, and the next week, the sentences must all be related to gardening. 

 This will stimulate her creative faculties and improve her retention. Fun always does! By the end of the school year, your teenager will have learned 126 words with 40 for the 10 weeks of summer.

Here’s another site that has 500 SAT words.

Additionally, your teenager should be studying vocabulary from her literary selections. 

Sophomore Grammar

Here is a website to support your sophomore English curriculum that has 24 different diagramming sentence types. You can get the diagramming worksheets here.

Your teenager can continue with her work from last year or begin with diagramming and writing new sentence structures.

There is a lot of free downloadable grammar information on this website, and depending on your needs, it may be less expensive to purchase one of their worksheet books than print your own. 

Sophomore Writing Assignments and The Project

1. One project should entail creating an advertising collage of at least five different propaganda techniques that are used in media. Afterwards, your teenager should write an essay demonstrating how each one of these techniques is present in the advertisement.  Often, more than one technique is used, so be sure to indicate which one is dominant and which one is subordinate. 

2. Here is a link that offers numerous propaganda writing prompts. Choose one and follow the guidelines of a five-paragraph essay. 

Remember that part of the sophomore English curriculum requires that a persuasive paper demands that a position, for or against, must be stated in the introductory paragraph, and then supported with three strong, logical examples in three body paragraphs.

A strong, final concluding paragraph, restating your position, also must be included. 

If you would like to see other writing samples for the sophomore English curriculum, click on the link to go to the writing curriculum page. 

Free Editing and Revision Form - I need your help.

To receive free editing and revision of your child's writing abilities, please submit one of his writing samples in the form below. (Currently I am building pages to help parents assess their children's writing skills. This is best done by looking at other samples and placing your own child's work in line with the other writing samples submitted.

Obviously, I cannot write 10 fake samples myself.

Therefore, if you would submit a sample, I can edit it, suggest revisions, and help others. All personal identifiers will be removed or changed.

Thank you for your help. Once I have a good sampling of 10 writing samples, I will not edit any more in this age group. I mean, editing is work, and no one likes to work for free forever. For now, however, you can help me, and I can help your child. 

Share Your Teenager's Writing

Do you want to help your teenager write better, but can't find a trustworthy, economical service? I have found no free editing or revision service on the web either.Therefore, in the box below, cut and paste an essay of no more than 300 words (five paragraphs)and click SUBMIT. I will personally review her writing sample and make comments on her strengths and areas needed for improvement.Your teenager's name will be kept confidential.



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