Expanding the English Curriculum: The Case for Including Cookbooks and Instruction Manuals alongside Shakespearean Plays

English curriculum in schools has traditionally been dominated by classic literature, poetry, and plays, with a particular emphasis on the works of William Shakespeare. However, in an increasingly diverse and practical world, there is a growing argument for expanding this curriculum to include more varied forms of written communication, such as cookbooks and instruction manuals. This article explores the reasons behind this argument and the potential benefits of such an expansion.

Why Include Cookbooks and Instruction Manuals?

At first glance, cookbooks and instruction manuals may seem out of place in an English class. However, these texts offer unique opportunities for teaching valuable skills. They are practical, real-world examples of written communication, and understanding them requires critical reading and comprehension skills. Moreover, they often use specific, technical language, providing a chance to expand students’ vocabulary and understanding of different writing styles.

The Case for Practicality

One of the main arguments for including cookbooks and instruction manuals in the English curriculum is their practicality. Unlike Shakespearean plays, which are often seen as abstract and difficult to relate to, these texts have immediate, real-world applications. They can help students develop practical skills, such as following instructions, understanding complex processes, and even cooking. This can make English classes more engaging and relevant for students who struggle with traditional literature.

Expanding Vocabulary and Understanding

Cookbooks and instruction manuals often use specific, technical language. This can be a valuable tool for expanding students’ vocabulary and understanding of different writing styles. For example, a cookbook might introduce words related to cooking techniques or ingredients, while an instruction manual might use language related to a specific field, such as electronics or furniture assembly. Understanding these texts requires students to decipher unfamiliar words and phrases, a skill that is valuable in many areas of life.

Developing Critical Reading Skills

Understanding cookbooks and instruction manuals requires critical reading skills. Students must be able to follow a sequence of instructions, understand the importance of each step, and identify any potential problems or ambiguities. This can help develop their ability to analyze and understand complex texts, a skill that is not only valuable in English classes, but also in many other areas of study and work.


In conclusion, while Shakespearean plays will always have a place in the English curriculum, there is a strong case for including cookbooks and instruction manuals as well. These texts offer unique opportunities for teaching practical skills, expanding vocabulary, and developing critical reading skills. By diversifying the types of texts students are exposed to, we can make English classes more engaging, relevant, and beneficial for all students.

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