Welcome to your new English textbook! Now, you may be feeling like English classes should be behind you since you graduated from high school, but don’t worry. This is different. When you take an English (or “Communications”) course in college, it’s all about preparing you for the real, everyday tasks of writing and speaking in your chosen profession rather than reading literature and writing essays. Ask any professional in your field, and they’ll set you straight on the enormous importance of practical communication in the work they do. They may call it “the BS” because it sometimes gets in the way of what they love to do, but they’ll assure you that you won’t get far without workplace communication skills enabling you to apply the technical skills you’re learning in your other courses. Trust those professionals—they know what they’re talking about. You may not fully appreciate it yet, but you really need this guide to help develop those vital communication skills now and in the years ahead as you grow professionally.

This guide is free to you thanks to the people of Ontario via eCampusOntario, an initiative of the Government of Ontario’s Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities. Does this mean it’s worse than the expensive communications textbooks available? Not at all. Research shows that, compared with no-cost open textbooks, traditional commercial textbooks offer no inherent advantages that lead to greater academic success (Rockinson-Szapkiw, Courduff, Carter, & Bennett, 2013). Indeed, if an open textbook is robust and comprehensive enough, serves students’ learning needs better, and doesn’t set them back $130, then it can be better for students in every way.

Communications Course Learning Outcomes
This open textbook was designed to meet the learning outcomes of Algonquin College’s first-year Communications course ENL1813 and its follow-up, ENL1823 or equivalent. References to these courses’ specific learning outcomes appear at the beginning of each chapter and section. Though each of the six schools and other areas across the College offer variations on ENL1813 (e.g., the School of Business has its ENL1813B, Hospitality & Tourism its ENL1813H, Media & Design ENL1813M, etc.), they’re all consistent in their seven general learning outcomes, called Course Learning Requirements (CLRs), making all ENL1813 courses equivalent credits. Each differs, however, in the sub-competencies, called Embedded Knowledge and Skills (EKSs), supporting those CLRs, and instructors further tailor courses to meet the needs of specific programs. The list of learning outcomes at the beginning of each chapter shows these EKSs with a letter for which departmental variation of ENL1813 it comes from:

  • A: Allied Health – Community and Justice Services
  • B: Business Administration – Core
  • G: General Arts and Science
  • H: Hospitality and Tourism
  • I: International Education Centre
  • M: Media Studies
  • P: Culinary Arts
  • R: General Arts and Science – Academic Focus
  • S: Allied Health – multiple programs
  • T: Applied Science and Environmental Technology

While this open textbook was intended to meet the basic resource needs of all students taking (and instructors teaching) ENL1813 across the College, the English faculty in each department is invited to tailor the resource further to meet the more specific needs of students in their school. Individual instructors are also invited to tailor it to meet the needs of students in a specific program.

What You Need to Succeed
This resource is suited best to students who use:

  • Microsoft Word (MS Word) as their word processor program, which is available to most Algonquin College students via the Digital Resource Portal
  • The Google Chrome browser for internet activity
  • A laptop or desktop computer with the Windows operating system, though some considerations are made for Mac users

A Note on Style
Whereas most commercial textbooks on communications maintain a high level of formality, this open textbook relaxes that a little to include contractions, colourful expressions, liberal use of “they” (rather than “he or she”) as a singular pronoun, and other characteristics of semi-formal or casual business writing. The idea is to model the style of a common email between work colleagues, which imitates a conversational style of writing while still being grammatically correct. Notice in the previous sentence and section, for instance, that “email” and “internet” appear instead of the more formal, old-fashioned “e-mail” and “Internet” often used in other textbooks. For this we take our cue from style guides in leading tech publications and international news organizations that trend towards lowercasing and de-branding the terms (Martin, 2016). See § on the formality spectrum in professional writing for more on the editorial decision to model a casual style for accessibility reasons.

This textbook is divided into three major units designed to guide first-year college students who have a high school education and perhaps some employment experience through the steps towards proficiency in English communication for college and professional success.

Unit 1: Communication Fundamentals
Unit 2: Applied Writing
Unit 3: Oral Communication

From the above units, you can further explore the full range of topics in the textbook’s chapters, sections, and subsections.



Martin, K. C. (2016, April 5). Should you capitalize the word Internet? Retrieved from

Rockinson-Szapkiw, A. J., Courduff, J., Carter, K., & Bennett, D. (2013). Electronic versus traditional print textbooks: A comparison study on the influence of university students’ learning. Computers & Education. Retrieved from



Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

Communication at Work Copyright © 2019 by Jordan Smith is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

Share This Book