Programs of Study

How to Succeed in English Classes at Calhoun


Students who want to succeed in English classes need to be aware of certain ideas, most of which are “common sense.”

Know the location of all of your classrooms, the library, and the English Lab.

Know the location of all of your classrooms, Brewer Library (Decatur campus) and the Huntsville Campus Library. Knowing the location of these areas will be essential.

Brewer Library is a one-story building located on the southwest side of the Decatur campus. The Huntsville Campus Library is situated just inside the main entrance to the Huntsville camus. Both Libraries offer resources online via the Library website.

Be on time.

The class will not wait for late arrivals.  Also, students disturb the class when they come in late.  You should allow plenty of time to find a parking place so that you will not be driving around frantically looking for a place to park!

Know your instructor’s name, office location, office telephone number, and email address.

Instructors will provide this information to students, generally at the first class meeting.  Learn how your instructor wants you to communicate your questions and concerns.  Some instructors use Blackboard for all emails and paper submissions.

Know the class requirements.

Although the Language and Literature Department has specific requirements, each instructor has specific requirements for the class.  You need to know exactly what is required for your class.
  • Know the make-up policy well.
  • Know the date for withdrawing with a grade of W.
  • Accept personal responsibility for doing all phases of the course.
Prepare extremely well for assignments.
  • First, read the material assigned.  Make notes in the margin and highlight key ideas.  If you do not understand something in the text, write your question in the margin so that you can bring it up in class.
  • Second, take detailed notes in class.  Your instructor will give special notes and instructions that are not in the book.   Ask questions about things you don’t understand.
  • Third, prepare beforehand for in-class writings.  If you know the topic ahead of time, brainstorm ideas for the paper.    If you do not know the topic ahead of time,brainstorm ideas before you start writing the paper in class.
  • Fourth, practice good time management skills.  Be aware of how much time you have to write the paragraph or essay, and keep an eye on the clock.
If you are having a difficult time writing the introduction in an essay, don’t stare at the paper for ten minutes hoping an idea will come; you are wasting valuable time.  Leave a space for the introduction.  Then go on to the body paragraphs. Later, you can return to writing the introduction.
  • Fifth, bring needed materials to class:
    • loose-leaf notebook paper (for writing) …no spiral tear-out sheets
    • a good dictionary
    • the textbook and the handbook
    • pens with blue or black ink
    • the English Lab print card (Be prepared to add money for copies using the machine in the English Lab using $1 bills at 10 cents per sheet)
    • a Compact Disc or flash drive
Proofread, proofread, proofread all assignments.

Read the completed paper well.  If you have a question, use your handbook or ask your instructor.

Use the handbook.

The handbook contains information about document set-up, and grammar and mechanics.  The handbook also contains most of the needed information for writing documented papers using the Modern Language Association (MLA) guidelines.   

Participate in group work.

If you are in a discussion group, contribute to the group.  Don’t let the rest of the group do all of the work.

Make friends in the class.

You will enjoy the class more, and you can borrow notes if you should miss a class.

Don’t disturb the class by engaging in needless conversations with those around you.

Turn off your cell phone.