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July 18, 2024, 03:53:28 pm

Author Topic: A kind of (hedge) induction into Sections A and B of VCE English Language  (Read 5703 times)  Share 

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As Iím riding the train to the methods exam, my brain is doing everything it takes to think about anything but methods. Clearly, it is time I entertain the ghosts of English Language voices in my head so they can stop narrating their tales to me.
The purpose of this post is to give a preliminary pep talk/ induction to anyone doing English Language that is clueless about how to approach Section A and B in this subject. Not all schools are strong with the subject; personally I quite disliked how my school delivered the content. There was no cohesion in the course, when I transitioned from Year 11 to 12 did I really see how badly they built our foundations. Year 11 Eng Lang at my school was an arts and crafts shop; we just made posters about different theories of speech development. In fact the end of year exam was an expository about our experiences with growing up with English. Which fits the study design, but it doesnít cater to the fact that VCE English Language is a battlefield, just like any subject. They need to teach us how to get through the shitstorms, not just powder our nappies with little art projects. So here I am writing this doc, on the train, wondering what the hell 2021 Methods entails for me, but also excited to help someone whoís in the position I was at the start of the year.
Letís get started. Gonna use formatting and logical ordering to maintain some coherence and allow ideas to flow smoothly.
Early in the year, have the study design handy.
Invest in printing out the study design. Not even the whole thing. Just the few pages with the U3/ U4 content on it (mostly independent of U1/2 content). The most important page is tilted ďKey Metalanguage for Units 3 and 4Ē. Print this out, at the very least. Find out the person whoís gonna sit in front of you during the exam and pay them to tattoo it on their butt. However, as most VCE students work their butt off, itís gonna start to raisin up, so maybe also stick it somewhere you can revisit it regularly so youíre not left doing eye tests reading about assonance on a chiselled up sultana.
Jokes aside, there is not enough prosodic stress to emphasise how important the study design is. Read each area carefully. Not just for English language, but for most of your subjects. But particularly for EL, the study design is a map to navigate through to sanity.

How do I memorise metalanguage?
Now that you have the list of golden words, itís time to memorise them. Metalanguage is the most important tool in English Language. Mastering how and when to use metalanguage is key. However, I think people put too much stress on software and cue cards and whatnot to memorise them. I find that itís completely ineffective to just memorise a bunch of jargon, even with examples.
For the first part, invest in the Orange Bible (or similar) Ė this was a Metalanguage guide (most schools have it on their booklist) that explained what each key term meant. Alternatively, do have a resource that correctly identifies and explains what each metalanguage term means so you know where to get started. Itís important to read through the different subsystems and at least have a brief understanding of what you need to know, and although the study design is a map, the compartmentalisation and strong elaboration on each subsystem is important. Itís important to have a base understanding of the following: register, social purpose, context and discourse. Knowing what these four things mean will allow you to explain how any metalanguage contributes to the integrity of a text.
However, personally I would advise not to just memorise everything and take notes. Itís tedious, and even if you do, youíre likely to forget.
Instead, open up a text. You can find heaps of texts. Thereís ones that have already been analysed (say, past Lang exams Ė see note 1 below btw), thereís a few English Language writing guides, if you invest in the Orange Bible (btw thatís what I call it I will have to edit this and find the name later), that has quite a few texts too. Just make sure you have a range of texts, and you read at least one:
-   Formal spoken text
-   Formal written text
-   Informal spoken text
-   Informal written text
Have your metalanguage resource nearby and start analysing. Just like that. Set 20 minutes aside, sit down with a text and start looking for things youíve read about in the metalanguage bank. Maybe at the start youíll need to consult your resource early, but with practice, rely less on the bank and more on your knowledge. Identify the metalanguage and link it to the text. If youíre reading a historical novel and you spot long polysyllabic lexemes in adjectival phrases, ask yourself, how does this reflect the formality? Every time you see metalanguage, link it to at least one of the four: register, context, discourse and social purpose. It helps if you bring a friend. The more the merrier. Ask your teacher to read your identified metalanguage. Compare it with friends. The more you can pick up, the easier it is to memorise. 
The best thing about doing it this way is you get to contextualise metalanguage. Itís like learning a language by speaking it. Youíre also more likely to remember stuff if you discuss things or have a debate with a friend.
Start creating a corpus for metalanguage.
Once you spend enough time being exposed to texts and you find that your consultation with your metalanguage bank is reduced to a minimal, itís time to separate the electrodes - now is the time to make a corpus.
Start to notice any trends you see in the text. If youíre reading a transcript you find informal, are there more diminutives than you find in a politicianís speech? What are some common things to find in a formal spoken text? Do the social purposes vary? Does the relationship between interlocuters affect the register? The discourse?
Make a list of things you often find in each type of text, and as you progress through the year, add to this bank. See Note 2.
My teacher encouraged the class to make a SAQ corpus. First, we broke down the past five yearsí Section A texts into the four categories I mentioned: formal/ informal/ spoken/ written. We got all the SA questions from the past 5 years, put them in a table with their answers and highlighted the metalanguage. Even without reading the texts, you can gauge holistically how each idea is assessed. Youíll know what kinds of answers fit a question asking for cohesion and coherence.
If you do make an SAQ corpus, this will be your best friend in the week before your exam. Without even reading the text, you can look at the level of formality and try to think of the key words the question is asking for. Cohesion in a formal spoken speech? Could it be semantic patterning? Deixis? Repetition?
Whether itís exam revision or SAC revision, this will put your brain into knowing what to look for. Every time you see a text, all you have to do is link it with one of the four text types, and then the key metalanguage will start popping at you the moment you start reading.
I just came back from the methods exam and Iím now lost about what other things I had to add.
Where were we?
Ah yes, corpus. Basically, make a corpus of the Section A questions and look for key metalanguage used to answer questions in the exemplars.
Note 1: Should I save resources for the end of the year?
Nope. Like big nope.
Youíll have so much to do at the end of the year you donít need to worry. Just do as much as you can early on and use everything you have available for the best experience.
In fact, what I found myself doing closer to the exam is to compare short answer/ ACs that I wrote during peak practice time (like May Ė June when I was working solely on ACs and analysis rather than section C) to new work I wrote under timed conditions. Youíll be surprised to see how much the quality of your work changes over time and gauge the improvement over time. You might also notice a little drop in quality of your Section A/B when you start exam revision, because of time constraints and how long youíve stayed away from ACs/ SAQs, so rereading your work is a good reminder of what youíre capable of.


Ah, ambiguity from compounding, and the benefits of the Oxford comma, thatís why Iím an advocate.
Be organised.
Label everything you do. Put a date. Put them in the same folder. Save the text you analysed. For English Language youíll get back to it. Trust. Writing is a process. Unlike maths where youíre unlikely to reread past work, writing is a gradual improvement. You SHOULD reread stuff you wrote and compare it to your newer work.

Thereís a bunch of kids on the train talking about the methods exam. Iím calm. Right? Yeah Iím calm. Itís done.
Anyway thatís sort of the basis of your knowledge for both Section A and B.

I'm calm but I think I've written quite a bit for one sitting. I shall now proceed to my methods crisis. 

Lying in a Hammock at William Duffy's Farm in Pine Island, Minnesota
VCE 2021 - ATAR 98.85
my vce journal!

offering tutoring for English Language 3&4;)