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Author Topic: What is VCE English Language all about?  (Read 2888 times)  Share 

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What is VCE English Language all about?
« on: August 21, 2018, 01:00:36 pm »
Hi all! At some point last year, I wrote the following summaries of what you actually cover in VCE English Language. I keep losing it, so I'm going to post it in this new thread. This thread will also function as a place to ask any questions you have about EngLang in general. I hope that this will be useful, because it's a bit of an unknown subject for many people going into Year 11 or Year 12 - or, at least, it was for me. I really had no idea what I was getting into! :P

Regarding what English Language actually is, here's a brief overview. For context, I went through English Language 1/2 and 3/4, and then went on to major in Linguistics at uni. The reason I say that is that English Language should really be called Linguistics, because that's what it is. For that reason, English Language is, perhaps, the most relevant subject of them all; language is all around us every single day.

English Language Units 1/2 (Year 11)
Unit 1
In Unit 1 AOS 1, you consider that nature of language, and what differentiates human communication systems from those of other animals. You look at how language results in meaning (super interesting IMO), how language is used for different purposes and in different ways (such as spoken, written, or signed), and how context impacts our language choices. You'll also be introduced to some "metalanguage" (language we use to talk about language): terms like morpheme and lexeme. This type of metalanguage is really important (particularly if you go on to study Linguistics), and is excellent if ever you want to teach English.

In Unit 1 AOS 2, the focus is mostly on language acquisition; that is, how we develop language proficiency. There are stages of child language acquisition, which you'll consider in some depth (again, super interesting). Development can vary between "subsystems" of language, too (basically, the five main areas of language) - and you'll learn about this in terms of phonology, morphology, lexicology, syntax and semantics. There'll further be discussion centred on differences between learning language as a child and an adult, and also differences between monolingualism, bilingualism and multi-lingualism. In an ever-globalised world, this last point is surely of particular importance.

Unit 2
IMO Unit 2 is absolutely fascinating. There's a big emphasis here on the nature of language change, and how English has developed as a language over time. In AOS 1, you look at the development of the language from Old English to contemporary English. This includes things like why the language changed, and what influence it's had on us as citizens. There's also a section on the relationship between English and other languages, and how they may have diverted from the same roots in the past. Further, there's a bunch of stuff on the concept of "Standard English" (very important in Linguistics), plus attitudes toward language, word addition and word loss.

Unit 2 AOS 2 sees more of a focus on the impact of language contact; that is, when languages "collide". Particularly relevant is how English is becoming one of if not the world's most dominant language, and the impact that that will have on us. You will also consider how new languages are formed, including pidgins and creoles. The relationship between language and culture is also considered, which, as you can imagine, is pretty important in today's world.

English Language Units 3/4 (Year 12)
Unit 3
Unit 3 is split in halves, with those halves basically considering informal and formal language. AOS 1 looks at informal language, including key characteristics, the impact of context, stylistic features, and how and why informal language is used.

AOS 2 is essentially the same, but for formal language.

Unit 4
Unit 4 AOS 1 looks more at language variation within the Australian context, including variation along geographical, national, regional and cultural axes. Standard and non-Standard English is again important, and you also consider the nature of accents.

Finally, Unit 4 AOS 2 considers the inherently intertwined (at least IMO) relationship between language and identities: both individual and group. Language variation is again a factor, this time due to personal factors (age, gender, occupation, interests, aspirations, education etc.). The concept of prestige also arises.

P.S. You can find a lot of this information in the English Language study design. :)

Oxford comma, Garamond, Avett Brothers, Orla Gartland enthusiast.