The John F. Kennedy High School English Department

– encourages independent & collaborative, critical & creative thinking in order to embolden lifelong readers & writers.
– respects the bilingual skills of students while promoting mastery in English.
– develops empathy & appreciation for all cultures through the study of language, literature, and media


The John F. Kennedy German-American Community School

– encourages independent, collaborative, and critical thinking,
– fosters bi-cultural, bilingual academic excellence,
– embraces international diversity based on mutual respect and cooperation,

and, in doing so, shapes responsible and democratic global citizens.


The John F. Kennedy School English Department stands in solidarity with the John F. Kennedy School Equity Group in its commitment to dismantle racism and all types of discrimination. As teachers of literature and language, we acknowledge the power of words, for both good and ill, and we commit ourselves to educating young people with a sensitivity towards this power. Finally, in keeping with the first line of the German constitution, die Würde des Menschen ist unantastbar, we uphold human dignity through the texts we read and discussions we hold.


English classes from grades 7-12 are offered a rich American curriculum in both mother and partner tongue levels that focus on the essential skills: reading, writing, speaking, listening, research, grammar, vocabulary, and critical thinking. All courses provide differentiated instruction and accommodations for student learning needs. Students in all classes learn to value others’ perspectives and to respect other cultures.

ENGLISH 7: Foundations of Storytelling

Students in English 7 learn the basic foundations of English literature through closely reading a variety of texts including short stories, plays, poems, and novels. The fundamentals of the paragraph are honed throughout the year, culminating in a multi-paragraph essay. Students also learn basic literary terminology, including plot, conflict, character, and narrative perspective. Grammar and vocabulary are also reinforced in the class – and especially at the partner-tongue level.

ENGLISH 8: The Voice of the Individual

Students in English 8 build on the English competencies scaffolded in English 7 as they read and explore a variety of texts that highlight the individual experiences of a variety of characters. Students further develop their multi-paragraph essay writing skills. They widen their knowledge of literary devices and apply them in order to gain an academic voice and content in their writing. Grammar and vocabulary continue to be reinforced in the class.

English 9: Individual in Society

Students in English 9 continue to sharpen their multi-paragraph writing skills in order to construct complex, well constructed essays and papers. Complex themes such as identity, conformity, and memory are also explored in order to further cultivate culturally aware learners. Particular focus is placed on analytical skills using devices such as tragedy, memoir, and symbolism, allowing students to sharpen their literary terminology and deeper understanding of literary texts.

English 10: The Individual’s Place in the World

Students in English 10 examine the strange and enlightening worlds of dystopia by focusing on themes of control, identity, loss, and isolation. In cross-curricular collaboration with the German department, the 10th graders visit Hohenschönhausen to enrich the overall course experience. Students analyze the techniques of propaganda not only to understand the persuasive power of language in history, but also in today’s world.

ENGLISH 11: American Literary Tradition 

11th grade English focuses on a wide variety of narrative voices of the United States. The AP/LK course prepares students for success on the Advanced Placement English Literature and Composition exam offered in May. Advanced Placement exam success can offer students credit at most U.S. and U.K. universities. The American Literature emphasis provides students with a rich array of texts focusing on identity, gender, and immigration from a wide variety of American voices. Students continue to hone the skills of analytical writing by crafting essays while developing a strong, individual voice. 

ENGLISH 12: British and World Literature

In 12th grade English, students study British Literature in the first semester with a world literature focus in the second semester. Students are prepared for both the Abitur and Advanced Placement Literature and Language exams (students have the option of taking AP Language in 12th). The world literature semester focuses on themes such as immigration, cross-cultural identity, and climate change. Students in AP Language and Composition also delves into these themes, but with more emphasis on argumentation, rhetoric, and non-fiction from a wide variety of authors. 


The HS English department awards the “Barbaric Yawp Award”, inspired by Walt Whitman, for the top writing student in 12th grade. These students must consistently demonstrate original, creative, and rhetorically authoritative writing. The English Department also awards a Harvard Book Prize for 11th grade students that demonstrate positive citizenship, stellar writing, and strong contributions to academic discourse in the classroom. The Harvard Award is in conjunction with the Harvard Alumni association in Berlin. Students are invited to a special honorary dinner and receive a book of articles and essays published by Harvard alumni authors.


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