Lit vs Lang


Ah yes, the Yin and Yang of Language Arts. All students up till now at YLHS have taken Lang their Junior year and Lit their Senior. But, recent policy changes are allowing incoming juniors and seniors to register for either class, whichever they would prefer. Thus, the following question will be asked numerous times in the coming weeks: What’s the difference?


The short answer is that Lang is about Non-fiction works and Lit is about Fiction works. But there is a lot more that goes into it than the books you read. As a prior member of both classes, here is all the differences between AP Lit and AP Lang:


AP Lang focuses primarily on rhetoric, “the art of discourse”. The class is all about how to effectively and logically argue a point. Similarly, there is discussion over strategies used by “the speaker” to get his point across. A poor argument may contain logical fallacies, such as circular reasoning or the “bandwagon appeal” whereas a good argument has a balance of appeals to Pathos, Ethos, and Logos (emotions, credibility, and logic). Ms. Ferris muses, “AP Lang is a class grounded in non-fiction: essays, speeches, articles, historical documents, visuals (political cartoons, tables, graphs, documentaries, etc.). We conduct rhetorical analysis and work to craft polished arguments of our own on modern, controversial issues.”


AP Lit, however, focuses on literary analysis. There is a heavy focus on poetry, but there is plenty of novels to read and two plays (Death of a Salesman and Hamlet). Unlike other Language Arts classes, the students get options as to what books they read. The way it works is that the student will get a choice of around four books to read. Then, the teacher creates groups based on who is reading the same book, and that group becomes a little book club. They read to the same place and once a week the group meets in class to discuss the novel. “AP Lit focuses on not only analyzing fiction-encompassing poetry, prose, and drama, but also on strengthening creative writing skills in order to develop voice and style.” explains Mrs. St. Amant.


Furthermore, the classes have different opportunities for writing. Lang is primarily catered towards the AP exam, with an occasional extra essay or project. The majority of writing in Lit is the submission process. Every unit, the student writes a poem, one page of creative prose, 2 pages of analysis, and one art project. There is still much time devoted to the AP test essays, but most writing is done for the submissions. Similarly, there is greater opportunity to get assistance on college essays in Lit, because of the one required creative prose. This is a chance for students to get feedback and critiques on their college essays and fulfill the requirements for an assignment at the same time. For juniors this would be most effective at the end of the year, and seniors have made use of it at the beginning of the year.


So upcoming upperclassmen, when selecting your AP Language Arts class for next year, make sure you pick the class that makes the most sense for you. Both classes are excellent learning experiences and both will prepare students for the AP tests, and hopefully help earn college credit.