As you begin your secondary English ITE course, you will bring to it a perception of what English teaching is about which has been formed from a combination of the following: your own school experience of being taught English; your undergraduate studies in English, and perhaps other subjects; information you have gleaned from sources such as the Press, observation visits to schools, and conversations with teachers whom you know; and, in some cases, work experience which is related to your planned career, such as TEFL teaching or running a youth club drama group.
Any analysis you have undertaken of these experiences may have engaged you in thinking about one or more of three different approaches to defining what English is: the identity of English as an academic subject, its scope and limits; the effective teaching and learning of English in schools; and the English curriculum as it is defined by the National Curriculum and its assessment mechanisms.
If you were asked what English is during an undergraduate literature or language seminar, you would probably have concentrated on the first of these matters, and it is also likely that you would feel more confident about it than the others. You will therefore expect your ITE course to require you to explore ideas about the teaching and learning of English and the relationship between these ideas and the statutory curriculum. You may not realise at this point that these explorations are likely to challenge you to re-evaluate your understanding of what English as an academic subject is.
Your re-evaluation of English may well begin as soon as you meet the other members of your ITE English method group. You will find that the ideas of your fellow student teachers have been influenced by a wide range of different academic experiences of