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The English challenge

date:Feb 06,2013 source:互联网 editorial staff:linan clicks:

Ei Study update: February 1, 2013
In 2013, more than 40,000 students will be challenged with an English course that develops a variety of language, interpretive and writing skills. It is a course based on the use of language; every outcome has language at the heart.
For many, the year begins with a close exploration of a text where we examine how a writer or director uses language to convey their ideas, themes and characters. This is not so different from Area of Study 3 where students analyse how language is used specifically to persuade the audience, as well as using appropriate language to construct their own arguments, usually in the form of an oral presentation.  Ei Study update: Area of Study 2 – also known as Context – allows students to use language to communicate their own ideas through various pieces of writing for different purposes and audiences.
As with all English courses, there is strong literary content and classes choose two texts to study in considerable detail from a list of 20 provided each year by the VCAA. It is here that the foundations of the English course unfold. Students need to have a mastery of their texts, which can only come from multiple close readings or viewings of the texts, thoughtful considerations and lively discussions.
While insights into the key themes, characterisations and ideas of the text underpin the study of text, students must also have a thorough understanding of the structures, features and conventions used by writers or directors to construct meaning. Cat's Eye (Elaine Risley's reflection of a traumatic childhood), The Reluct-ant Fundamentalist (Changez and his views of America), Things We Didn't See Coming (unnamed narrator trying to make sense of a futuristic world), In the Country of Men (Suleiman, a young Libyan boy, perceives through young eyes a male-dominated society where few can be trusted), all employ a narrator to present the story and ideas.
Even the way ideas are presented in non-fiction texts are important, as seen in texts such as Bypass: The Story of a Road (where Michael McGirr offers both historical and personal responses to a trip along the Hume Highway) and Stasiland (where Anna Funder takes readers on a personal quest to uncover what life was like in the German Democratic Republic).  Ei Study update, in what ways do the narrators present their stories and what are the limitations of their narration in respect to biases, personal beliefs and their world as they understand it? This is the sort of question a thoughtful VCE student should be asking.
As well, all writers or directors employ strategies and conventions to provoke and add meaning to their work. Twelve Angry Men is a play and should be read and interpreted as a play. The stage instructions play a role in understanding how Reginald Rose was attempting to convey his ideas and those of his characters. It is interesting to note the physical manner in which Juror 3's racist views are rejected by the other jurors, as well as what is said or cinematic techniques used by Elia Kazan in directing On the Waterfront when he opens the film with Terry's maimed posture suggesting that he is morally bruised and seeks redemption in the corrupt New York waterfront of the 1950s. As well, the photographs that begin with clean-cut, patriotic soldiers deteriorate as Bernard Edelman's selection of letters and the trauma of the Vietnam war unfolds in Dear America.
The key for success in Reading and Responding, however, is to engage and enjoy the text being studied and develop the capacity to think for yourself and respond intelligently from your own reading.
While some have misunderstood the focus of the next area of study, the key is in its title "Creating and Presenting". It is all about your writing – the ability you have to create pieces of writing in different forms for different audiences. Its purpose is to improve your writing and develop a more reflective understanding of creating meaningful, authentic and provocative pieces of writing.  Ei Study update: this, of course, takes time and practice but it is not unlimited. Each class around the state will select one of four Contexts and two texts from a list prescribed by the VCAA to explore the Context. The purpose of studying these texts (and other supplementary material) is to help student writers develop thoughtful, evocative ideas that form the content of their writing.
So when studying the texts and other material, it is not the same as the reading of Area of Study 1; here the exploration of texts is both appreciating writing styles as exemplars and, more importantly, building profound insights into the Context being studied. Helpful questions when studying these texts are: What does this text suggest about "Whose reality"?, What does this character imply about "Encountering conflict"?, or What is this scene saying about "Identity and belonging"? What can I learn about my Context by examining this text?
The key to success is to try many pieces of writing throughout the year, take plenty of time to contemplate what makes a good piece of writing for that particular approach, to be bold in developing your ideas and pieces of writing. It should be interesting and engaging as you develop and practice, but it is an area that needs constant attention, not done for a few weeks a semester.
The final area of study for English is the ability to understand and employ the language to persuade. Ei Study update: while this section of the course only appears officially in Unit 3, it is certainly an area that must be developed throughout the year.
Its purpose is to have students develop a sophisticated understanding of how language is used to persuade. Consider the relevance of this to our everyday world. Most of what we say, and most of what we hear are forms of opinion or subjective perceptions of the world around us. Every advertisement attempts to persuade, every politician employs language that attempts to elevate their party and criticise their opposition.
The task of the student is to understand how this language is being used – not to evaluate or criticise it – but to surgically analyse it to demonstrate an understanding of the ways language and visual features are used to present that point of view.
As well, in most schools, students will be required to deliver a persuasive point of view. So the understanding of language use to persuade is now put into practice. For many students, standing in front of others and offering an oral presentation is a frightening prospect. The secret is to be extremely well prepared. Consider the fact that these presentations will be assessed based broadly on the quality of the presentation and the quality of the ideas.
The presentation will include verbal and non-verbal communication such as eye contact and use of voice, while the ideas will centre largely on how well the student has researched, understood and selected appropriate points to support a sustained point of view from an issue that appeared in the Australian media since September 2012.
English is a subject that is highly developmental. Ensure that it is something done most nights of the week in each week of the year. Results will not necessarily come over night, but with a consistent, thoughtful approach the outcomes can be valuable, rich and meaningful for years to come.

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