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Re: English Work Examples Directory
« Reply #30 on: September 28, 2010, 03:03:21 pm »
Sample language analysis on the issue of graffiti, utilising one article and an image:

With the police’s recent decision to begin patrolling graffiti “hot spots” in Avonlea in an attempt to combat vandalism, debate has been sparked as to the effectiveness of this approach and to the nature of graffiti itself.  One commentator, Vanessa Swan, writes in an opinion piece from a Melbourne newspaper that graffiti is in fact an art form, contributing more to society than those who would like it to be removed tend to believe.  A photograph published together with the opinion piece supports Swan’s contention, presenting graffiti as vivifying society and encouraging self-expression through artistic creation.  This issue is set to spark further conflict, as it deals not only with graffiti and its place within society, but also the nature of art itself and its role within human civilisation. 

Throughout her piece, Vanessa Swan employs a measured rationality in an attempt to cast her opposition as misguided, in effect positioning the reader towards feeling as though their stance is one moulded within misunderstanding.  By using a calm and reasoned tone throughout the piece, found in phrases such as “we should focus on the real issues”, Swan is intending to ease the reader into her piece, influencing them towards viewing her as rational and not merely zealous in her support of graffiti.  This is further reinforced within Swan’s characterising the opposition’s views within hyperbole of “indulging in scare-mongering and in tales of graffiti as a horrific problem”, an act which casts the opposition themselves as the overly passionate; in doing so, Swan is effectively positioning the reader to feel as though there is a clear contrast between the two sides of the argument, and that hers is the more logical.  In using the rhetorical question “what is it that they are rebelling against?”, Swan also alludes to the notion that there is more to the issue than the opposition would believe, again, with the intention of persuading them towards seeing the opposition as lacking depth of knowledge regarding graffiti and its practice.

Complementing her characterisation of those against graffiti as misguided, Swan utilises attacks on the methods of counteracting graffiti in the hopes that, as a result, the reader will view the anti-graffiti movement as hopelessly ineffectual.  In utilising the absolute in saying “repressive approaches…are bound to fail”, Swan is depicting the police’s attempts to curb graffiti as completely unable to succeed, with the intention of eliciting a desire from the reader for an alternative response to the issue.  Use of the phrase “as should be obvious” in relation to graffiti being “easier to put up than to remove” furthermore reduces the police to lacking in credibility, inspiring the reader to feel as though they are not only doomed to failure, but furthermore, incompetent.  Juxtaposition between the police’s approach – “the easy path of condemning it” – and Swan’s approach in making “an effort to understand graffiti” also facilitates a move into an alternate solution, inciting the reader towards viewing the police’s method of fighting graffiti as inferior to an attempt towards comprehending its nature.   

Building from her attack on the opposition, Swan also infuses within her depiction of graffiti notions of vivacity and colourfulness in order to draw the reader into viewing its practice as necessary.  Through utilisation of the image of monotony within “a drab, grey, faceless place”, Swan is attempting to cast contemporary society as one lacking in any livelihood; by then building upon this with the language of intensity of “spirit and passion”, Swan is casting graffiti as a necessary evil to combat the dullness of society, in an attempt to incite an appreciation for graffiti’s effectiveness as a modern art form within the reader.   By drawing out the creative appeal of graffiti in calling it “witty, playful and socially meaningful” and “Even the simplest tags are making a statement”, Swan also characterises the art form as intellectual, with the intention of positioning the reader to feel as though graffiti is almost academic in its allowance for insight into the state of the world. 

Alongside this, Swan also continually juxtaposes the role of graffiti and the nature of urban life in order to elicit sympathy for artists from the reader.  With the use of the derogatory adjectives “empty” and “endlessly repeated”, Swan is creating an image contemporary society as one which has been overly institutionalised by “big-business [and] the corporate world”, positioning the reader to view graffiti as a means of escaping the commercial nature of society.  Swan’s employing the metaphor “visual pollution” similarly addresses this notion, invoking a sense in the reader that graffiti may in fact be a means of purifying the institutionalised cities.  Closing with the definitive statement “Graffiti is not a problem.  It is the street art of a new generation”, Swan intends to leave the reader feeling as though she has adequately addressed the significance of graffiti as a creative force, and that graffiti is a symbol of vitality in the modern world.

Like Swan’s opinion piece, the photograph published within the Melbourne newspaper supports graffiti as a creative means of bringing life to society within the context of contemporary culture.  In the foreground of the photograph, there is an individual grasping a can of spray paint in a pose of empowerment; this is designed to leave the viewer as thinking graffiti is bringing strength to the youth of the modern world, allowing for creativity in a world symbolised by industrial oppression.  Hiding the face of the individual in the photo also brings an understanding that graffiti is, in some sense, anonymous, in effect positioning the reader to feel as though graffiti is a universal form of self-expression which can be created by anybody, regardless of artistic background or social status. 

The photograph of the individual with the spray can also works to directly complement some of the ideas drawn out by Swan within her piece.  In the background of the image, there is a grey wall, completely blank save for the graffiti drawn on it; this, like Swan’s images of monotony, presents the state of contemporary society as one immersed in depraved dullness, inspiring the viewer to feel as though art is necessary for combating the soullessness of the world.  The contrast between the wall and the colourful and dynamic graffiti draw on top of it also alludes to the livelihood which graffiti brings, echoing Swan’s approach in portraying graffiti as bringing passion to society and potentially leaving the viewer feeling as though graffiti is necessary for the sake of society’s vividness.  All in all, this photograph is very much in the same vein as Swan’s piece, presenting graffiti as creative self-expression rather than simply vandalism. 

Both Swan’s opinion piece and the photograph are designed to leave the reader feeling as though graffiti is merely misunderstood as art.  Swan’s piece characterises its opposition as misunderstood before drawing comparisons between graffiti’s colourfulness and society’s dullness; the photograph is similar to this, presenting an empowering image of graffiti in a largely monotonous landscape.  As indicated by these responses and the acts which they are retaliating against, this issue is certain to provoke further discussion due to its impact on the role of art and self-expression in the modern world.

Finished VCE in 2010 and now teaching professionally. For any inquiries, email me at [email protected].


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Re: English Work Examples Directory
« Reply #31 on: October 29, 2010, 09:53:29 am »
Seeing as almost no one's posting on Shark Net, I thought I'd put something up. I wrote this piece a while before I started preparing for the exam, so it's not strongly enough linked to the text, but it demonstrates some linguistic features and general ideas that emulate the autobiography. I guess this short piece explores the group mentality and the inability to completely understand someone else's reality.


We were down at the beach house – all 8 of us, nestled in a little cove off Bay Road. We’d worked hard to secure this respite after the final exams. John had repainted the local church a hideous green, Peter had mowed all of the lawns in Hamilton and I’d experienced the wealth of insults that come with manning a Coles cash register.

Ah, freedom tasted so good. Not just in the figurative sense, but in the literal one too. There was a small fish and chippery hidden behind the beach’s shower block and everyday we’d meander towards the grey brick shack in pursuit of those brown paper bags filled with hot chips.

The owner of the place was kind – always throwing in a few extra dim sims here and there. His toothless grin shone against the blue sea.

Every now and then he’d be replaced by his wife. Cigarette perpetually drooping from her lips, her scowl had the same acidity as the lemon that we squeezed over our fish.

We weren’t sure why this was the case. Could it be a built up envy of the young? A dissatisfaction of days spent sorting 5 dollar notes and 10 cent pieces? Peter, in his wit and charm, offered other suggestions: perhaps it was something personal with her husband. That was better than his other alternative, in which the woman was cultivating illicit drugs. I don’t think he was serious. I hope he wasn’t.

These discussions continued for hours upon hours until we collectively decided to solve the mystery. We couldn’t quite pinpoint the source of her bitterness: she had the same home environment as her husband (unless, of course, Peter’s first theory held true), yet her disposition was completely different.

In our youth and innocence, we constructed a plan. Flawless, we thought, as the details of our pursuit became etched into our minds. After going to Main Street in the morning, we’d stop by Smith’s chocolates and buy her a box of truffles. John, the looker of the group, would go over to her stall later in the day and would chat her up.

Flawless, as I said.

The aim was to be astute experimenters. We’d observe her reaction from afar, emulating the scientific matter we’d studied back in our VCE.

“If she doesn’t smile, there’s something psychologically wrong with her,” John had noted.

We set off that morning, the scent of dew moistening the grass as the surf crashed against the sandstone cliffs.  The seagulls swooped above my head.

For some reason, this seemed to instil fear within me. It was a fear that I could taste – a phobia which burnt my tongue, which stung my eyes.

Fleetingly, an image of the woman ran through my mind. Lip upturned, hands on hips, she seemed to condemn our actions through the eye of the seagull.

The other didn’t notice. We continued on our way through Main Street, past the rusting Toyota utes and the stacks of Women’s Weekly outside the grocers. We saw children playing football against the dry dirt. Young mothers clad in thongs and cotton skirts pushed blue prams.

We went on our way into the chocolate shop, to be greeted by a man with greying hair. Interesting, I thought. A little like Dad back home – bald at the top, grey at the sides.

“So, what are you young’uns doing here?”

He smiled over the truffles.

“Saw you lot ‘round near Bill and Mary’s fish and chippery. To tell you the truth, I’ve been a bit worried about Mary myself lately. Tough time she’s going through, she is.”

Mary? Up until this point, the woman – well, Mary – had been simply that: a woman. The description of her using a name added a new dimension of colour: previously, she’d been a two dimensional concept to contemplate. But now, she was a human being – a person with friends, family and woven into the complexity of human life.

He handed us the truffles. And then he winked. I’m not sure what the wink was – perhaps it was an amicable gesture, maybe he knew what we were doing. But how could he? Were we, as teenagers, such transparent people? Could he peer into our reality, comprehend the immaturity of our actions? Were we immature?

By the time we arrived at the beach, the truffles had melted in their paper cases. John stopped maintaining that the plan was flawless. We’d taken quite a while to get there – stopping by the 7-11 to grab slurpees, we’d encountered another group of schoolies students and everyone had hit it off. We were going to their place tomorrow evening.

But in the time it’d taken us to finish our cola flavoured slurpees, stroll down main street and turn into beach road, much had changed. In preparation for a good night’s sleep, the sun had descended into its bed, sending streaks of purple and orange across the clouds.

And then we saw her. It was poignant, really. Suspended on the end of the pier, her silver hair clinging to the back of her neck, the sandstone cliffs seemed to revere her presence.

She saw us, all 8 of us, standing paralysed on the sand. We didn’t move. We couldn’t. She saw John’s freshly spiked hair, the box of truffles held limply in his hands.

And she smiled. But it wasn’t a smile of joy. It was something of resignation, of destitution, of worthlessness. It seemed final.

For a moment, I thought she would jump. But she simply stood there, a soft sadness spreading across the indigo sea.

« Last Edit: October 29, 2010, 10:14:21 am by appianway »


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Re: English Work Examples Directory
« Reply #32 on: October 29, 2010, 10:04:17 am »
And here goes yet another essay... it's not perfect (wrote it just after getting back from Croatia and I may or may not have only read the book once at that point...), but it's got some fresh ideas.

Coketown is as important as the characters in Hard Times

Coketown, the setting of Hard Times, is as important as any of its characters. Do you agree?

As a social commentary and critique, Charles Dickens’ Hard Times relentlessly targets the vices plaguing Victorian Britain. Fundamentally opposed to the philosophy of utilitarianism and the social problems triggered by industrialisation, Dickens satirises the qualities he associates with the aforementioned movements. Although this is accomplished in part through the stereotyping of characters, much is achieved through the author’s descriptions of Coketown. Through his careful selection of linguistic features, location choice and narrative voice, all strongly linked to the setting of the novel, the author condemns both industrialisation and utilitarianism. It is thus evident that while the characters in Hard Times play an instrumental role in conveying the author’s contention, Dickens’ descriptions of Coketown provide a similarly important critique of utilitarianism and industrialisation.

Dickens provides a strong criticism of utilitarianism through his depiction of Coketown. Utilitarianism, a philosophy that stands for “the greatest good for the greatest people”, is undermined in the town of Coketown. Despite the growing industrialisation representing the pursuit of material wealth, and hence the “good” for a “great number” of people, the descriptions of the monotonous environment suggest a world void of fancy and happiness. Dickens creates this image by referring to the “several large streets all very like one another, and many small streets still more like one another, inhabited by people equally like one another”. The repetition of the phrase “like one another” accentuates the tedium seen by people in the town: as human “machines”, their lives rarely diverge from their daily norm. This notion of fact and order being entrenched in the town itself is reiterated in Dickens’ initial description of Coketown, in which the narrator exclaims “Fact, fact, fact, everywhere in the material aspect of the town; fact, fact, fact, everywhere in the immaterial." This clearly demonstrates that Dickens believes that the setting of Hard Times epitomises the extremity of utilitarianism, and hence the monotony that ensues is attributed to the excess of this philosophy. The depiction of the Gradgrind residence further accentuates Dickens’ criticism of utilitarianism, and hence cements the importance of Coketown in achieving this aim. Mr Gradgrind, a “man of fact”, believes so strongly in the philosophy of utilitarianism that he raises his children as “models”.  Gradgrind’s own house exemplifies an emphasis on fact: the “great stone house” has 6 windows on each side, and includes a wealth of scientific artefacts for his children to use. However, Dickens questions the worth of such a domestic scenario through his contemplative tone when stating that the house has “everything that the heart desires” (“Everything? Well, I suppose so”). This questioning technique evokes a sense that whilst the house possesses all of the material benefits that could cause “the greatest good for the greatest people”, something lacks. Dickens hence condemns the philosophy of utilitarianism through his description of the Gradgrind’s house in Coketown.

Dickens further uses his descriptions of the town of Coketown to criticise growing industrialisation. The name of the city itself immediately informs readers of the importance of industry to this town – pertaining to coal, the term ‘coke’ demonstrates a reliance on fuel to stimulate the furnaces of the factories that abound in the town. Dickens emphasises the destruction of this environment where “nature is bricked out as strongly as poisonous gases and airs are bricked in” largely through his use of figurative language. Dickens describes the town as being like “the head of an elephant in a state of melancholy madness”; a reference which suggests something animalistic and uncivilised about the society. Dickens emphasises this point through his ironic use of the term “fairy palaces” to describe the factories of Coketown. The author makes it clear that there is nothing fanciful or magical about the factories: the chimneys are “crooked”, and in the heat of summer, the atmosphere resembles that of “simoon’s breath”. The use of this wildly incorrect description hence functions to draw attention to the vices of the factories, thus serving as a criticism of industrialisation. Dickens additionally condemns industrialisation through his selection of location for the death of Stephen. Stephen dies after falling into a mining shaft, presumably one which provided coal for the industrialisation of Coketown. Stephen, however, is portrayed in a highly positive light – whilst dying, his head is ‘turned to the sky’, and the ‘stars have shined on [him]’. This clearly demonstrates that Dickens wants Stephen to be viewed in a favourable way. His death, inherently linked to the development of Coketown, can be seen as an important condemnation of industrialisation.

However, the importance of characters in Hard Times cannot be overlooked. The character juxtapositions reiterate Dickens’ strong criticism of utilitarianism. One such example is the comparison between Sissy and Bitzer. Sissy appears to be more “lustrous” when the sun shines upon her; Bitzer’s complexion is so lifeless that “the same rays appear to draw out of him what little colour he ever possessed”. Bitzer is established as the pinnacle of Gradgrind’s utilitarian education – when Sissy is unable to describe a horse, Bitzer immediately responds with a detailed description of the quadruped. The description of Bitzer in such a lifeless manner hence suggests that a utilitarian education favouring fact causes individuals to lose vibrancy, and therefore implies that a utilitarian approach alone is unable to create wholesome students. Dickens also explores the failure of utilitarianism through the character of Louisa. Gradgrind, an advocate of fact and utilitarianism, models his daughter Louisa to exemplify the philosophy. However, her education stunts her maturity, leaving her distraught and unable to comprehend her emotions after Mr Harthouse’s expression of his affinity for her. Louisa approaches her father, claiming that all she knows is that “[his] philosophy and teachings will not save [her]”. Louisa then collapses into an “insensible heap”. Louisa’s actions at this point certainly contradict the “factual” approach enforced by her father: her exclamations demonstrate spontaneity and rashness. This contradiction demonstrates that Dickens thus shows that utilitarianism is so flawed that even the most dedicated supporters are unable to follow it. However, her collapse also represents the symbolic demise of utilitarianism: the fact that the "pride and trumph of the system" is unable to withstand any degree of emotional trauma, and hence demonstrates that the philosophy is unable to adequately prepare its followers for future trials. By juxtaposing his characters and displaying the effects of such a philosophy on individuals, Dickens demonstrates that inevitably, the ideas embodied will collapse when the emotions of people are considered.

In Dickens’ Hard Times, the town of Coketown embodies the concept of fact; an idea essential to utilitarianism. The author uses this association to condemn the philosophy: his use of descriptive language suggests the downfalls of utilitarianism. Additionally, his illustrations of monotony create a paradox where the philosophy of utilitarianism ultimately undermines its own purpose. Dickens also criticises the growing industrialisation of Britain through Coketown – his selection of linguistic features draws attention to the poor urban conditions caused by the movement. The death of Stephen can also be attributed to Coketown’s dependence on fuel, which further reiterates the vices of industrialisation. These ideas confirm the immense importance that the setting of Coketown serves in conveying the author’s values. However, the significance that the characters play cannot be underestimated: the juxtaposition of Bitzer and Sissy and Louisa’s lack of emotion development signal that indeed, utilitarianism has no place in society.


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Re: English Work Examples Directory
« Reply #33 on: November 25, 2010, 08:36:58 pm »
One of my attempts at a different form. Context, Whose Reality.

Discovering human reality in the most unlikely of places
Steven Josiah , The Herald Sun, 08/10/10
Being one of the thousands of university students out trying to start on their independent life, attempting to balance studies, social life, and need for money, perhaps getting an interesting part time job was not particularly high on the list of probable events.

With no real qualifications, and no particular interest in earning my fourteen dollars an hour by contributing to the body mass index of society, I decided to go out on a whim and, perhaps a little persuaded by my little punk rock phase, and work at a “scene kid” store, otherwise a bit better known as a “head shop”.

The inner-city store, which specialized in tattoos, band merchandise, body piercings, and “legal herb” paraphernalia, though littered with anti-drug legal disclaimers throughout the store, had a pretty obvious target audience. With a store which sold “water” pourers, “tobacco” pipes, “herb” vaporizers, and the reading section entertaining “purely educational” books about the growth of Marijuana and Cannabis, the main attraction of such stores is no secret.

Despite having several pin up posters of punk rock bands, spiky haired, gum chewing, teenage store attendants, with, retrospectively, terrible fashion sense, my everyday experiences with people of all ages, backgrounds, and demographics really  exposed a lot about society’s addiction to escapism. In a city where the homeless co-exist with the lawyers and doctors, and schoolkids walk the same streets as businessmen, I’ve learnt that despite the social gap between Melbourne’s many people, in reality many of us are not so different; most of us simply just want an escape.

Whether we are trying to escape our reality by dimming our senses through drugs and alcohol, or simply trying to construct our own realities through other means, our reasons for doing so come down to simply one reason; we are not content with the reality we are in. Whether it’s a teenager depressed about being bullied at school, an accountant unable to handle her workload, or a middle-aged woman unable to truly overcome the trauma of losing someone close many years ago, as humans we are fundamentally no different, we are rarely content with ourselves.

Working in the store, perhaps the most obvious avenues for the evasion of reality taken was through the use of illicit drugs. Though the company’s policy, or the “keep business legal” statement, would restrict the implication that those who purchased “water pipes” are drug users, the general consensus between the customers and store employees is exactly that.  Aside from simply providing an escape from reality, it appears that in an increasingly hostile world, the concept of possessing a mechanism which allows social control, albeit temporarily, is perhaps a rather attractive concept. Having control over our circumstances is one of the primary objectives of intelligent life as we know it, but the impact of global capitalism, individual emotional differences, and the force of social conformity, limits most human beings in their ventures to control their lives. To a degree, it becomes reasonably understandable that in order to control their reality to the greatest of their extent, some take advantage of the use of drugs and alcohol.

So in a world where most of us are nowhere near content in what we do, why aren’t we all taking drugs and drowning ourselves in alcohol?

In my case, the pressure of social conformity amongst my demographic was what led me to my job in the first place, and I suspect many of the younger customers of the store I worked in were rather similar. In contrast to attempting to escape reality through drowning it out, many of us react to our discontent with our lives through attempting to conform into something we are not. Whether we do this through manipulation of others, deception, or simply slapping on a Metallica t-shirt to impress your mates, we all attempt to construct our realities to some extent to simply fit in and control our lives. The several youths walking into the store with their straightened, bleached hair, with various visible piercings, and headphones blasting out cacophonous screams, all represented the same image in my day to day experiences. Whilst some may have been very different people in the past, the transformation they decide to undertake themselves creates the image that they become, and in essence grasps control of their reality. To the objective perspective of the rest of the world, these people have “constructed” their reality.

That said, the physical reality that we create of ourselves is not the limit of the extent to which we go to in order to make our own realities. We all know someone who has undergone some sort of emotional or moral transformation, whether it is caused from a past trauma, a realization, the adoption of another image, or simply by the necessity of survival in society. A few months out of my “punk-rock” phase, and into my phase of theatrical appreciation, I appropriately ventured out to go and have a watch of Tennessee Williams’ appropriately themed play, “A Streetcar Named Desire” at the Regent. Once again, I am over that phase, and I have no intention of writing any sort of review; but to cut a long story short, the central plot was based around the protagonist constructing a self-image to evade her past, and eventually getting caught and bringing upon her downfall. Whilst at the time the audience collectively felt sympathy, confusion, and disgust at the predicament of the protagonist, now I can not help but question exactly why this was particularly significant.

Our entire lives are filled with people attempting to hide aspects of themselves, and it is only natural to want to overcome difficulties in our lives. Some choose to do by creating a façade through lies, deceit, conformity, whereas others do this through drugs and alcohol, and others choose to simply “cop it”. It all simply goes to say that every single one of us attempts to make our own reality, but it is primarily how we go about doing so which is what separates us.

Steven is undergraduate arts student at Melbourne University currently trying to discover his own reality.
« Last Edit: November 25, 2010, 08:46:33 pm by taiga »
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Re: English Work Examples Directory
« Reply #34 on: December 14, 2010, 06:35:59 pm »
Sample Language Analysis with one image:

A recent report published by an independent committee which showed that young male drivers are more likely to be injured or killed on the roads has reignited debate on whether this is a social issue related to the male population in our community. In an opinion article published in a Melbourne newspaper titled ‘What real people think’ in January 2008, writer Frank Sadler argues for its young male readers to drive more responsibly on the roads. At the same time, an accompanying photo depicts a battered car in the aftermath of a road collision, which complements the article by highlighting the consequences associated with driving dangerously on the roads. This discussion highlights the role of young males in society in general, and whether their set of values and beliefs are in accord with society’s own established standards.

In the article, Sadler first attempts to inform and seek an acknowledgement from its young male readers of their poor and destructive attitude when driving on the streets of Melbourne. Sadler begins by using colloquial language such as ‘crusty old curmudgeon’ and ‘you, the young guns’ in order to allow his article to be clearly directed towards the younger generation of readers. At the same time, Sadler uses a series of hyperbole, such as ‘no other group coming close’ to ‘the most damage’ inflicted ‘to themselves’, and a generalization of the younger males in society by labeling them as ‘self-absorbed sociopaths’ intent on ‘gratification and amusement’ in order to emphasize the carnage that male drivers who think ‘they are invincible’ cause to others on the roads along with generating antagonism against this minority group. The reader is positioned into acknowledging that there is an issue of young male drivers with poor values and attitudes on the roads in the current day and age.

Another approach made by Sadler is an attempt to undermine the beliefs and values that cause the younger drivers to act irresponsibly and dangerously. Sadler is first able to use a sarcastic tone in order to exaggerate the ludicrous nature of those who believe that their ‘revved to excess’ car ‘with shiny bits all over it’ will ‘make the opposite sex weak at the knees’, where Sadler juxtaposes this nonsensical thinking with a generalization of the public’s opinion of them as ‘tossers’ and a ‘bit old to be still playing with toys’. Similarly, Sadler’s use of a biased selection of the purported values characterized by young male drivers, where they have to be ‘first in line at the traffic lights’ and ‘believe that the road rules apply to everyone else but’ them, enables him to use the repetition of ‘Wrong’ after each rebuttal of these beliefs in order emphasize their illogical thinking and undermine their credibility. Through Sadler’s tone and rebuttal of the quintessential values that young male drivers abide by, the reader is able to realize the faults associated with it and form an antagonistic stance towards them.

At the same time, Sadler attempts to provoke a sense of fear into any male readers who are drivers in order to convince them to put an end to their aggressive and unwanted driving style. Shifting towards an assertive tone, Sadler is able to present the consequences of driving irresponsibly and dispel the idealistic thoughts of young drivers by singling them out as ‘you’ in his argument that ‘you are far more likely than any other group’ to ‘end up in the operating theater of morgue’. At the same time, using a series of rhetorical questions such as ‘When you will you get it right?’ and ‘Still don’t believe me?’, Sadler is able to persuade the young male reader into questioning their own beliefs about the way they drive. Sadler is able to further reinforce his attempt to generate fear of mortality by using evidence from the ‘Traffic Accident Commission’, where young male drivers are most at risk from traffic collisions. Through his tone and evidence, Sadler is able to position the reader into fearing for their own life when adopting dangerous driving styles

Similarly, the final approach made by Sadler is an attempt to provoke its young male readers to adopt a safer approach towards driving. Sadler first attempts to persuade the reader into reflecting about their driving style by arguing that they are ‘able to convince the testers’ that they have ‘the skills and knowledge of the road’ and then asking the rhetorical question as to why they cannot be ‘trusted to do this on your own?’. This leads into Sadler’s final appeal to the young male reader to change their attitude and driving style, where Sadler first uses a series of universally known clichéd phrases such as ‘do yourself and everyone else a favor’ and ‘get with the program’ in order ensure that his is able to reach all readers. Sadler finishes by once again giving a negative context to the behavior of current male drivers with ‘testosterone charged fantasies’ to persuade the male reader to finally realize their poor attitude when driving. Thus, Sadler is able to persuade the reader to abandon their old aggressive and violent ways of driving and instead adopt a more conventional and safer method.

Accompanying the article is a photo of a wrecked car abandoned in a yard ready to be crushed amongst other similarly damaged vehicles. The centering of the dilapidated and damaged car in the photo serves to form an immediate connection with the article whilst also to emphasize its presence and provoke a sense of fear in the reader at the tragic consequences that may occur, where all but the driver and passenger seats remain intact. At the same time, the other wrecked vehicles surrounding the centered car allow the reader to form their own conclusion that this damage to vehicles in collisions is actually quite a common occurrence in society. The logo of the wrecked car as a BMW also emphasizes the idea that all cars have the vulnerability of being damaged beyond repair from crashes, and that it is not only limited to cheaper cars with less safety features. Therefore, the image accompanying the article primarily attempts to convey the idea of the consequences arising from car accidents and the common occurrence of them.

Finally, the accompanying photo seeks to reinforce the arguments made by Sadler in his opinion article by emphasizing the destruction to vehicles and threat against human lives that irresponsible driving can cause. The horrific image of the damaged car where only the passenger and driver seats remain intact parallel with Sadler’s argument that car crashes can result in people ending up in the ‘operating theatre’ or ‘morgue’ and reinforces his attempt to invoke a sense of fear of mortality into young male drivers. Similarly, the other surrounding damaged vehicles corresponds to Sadler’s main contention that the group of young drivers ‘still hasn’t got its mind set right’ as there are still many traffic accidents that occur everyday, and also provokes the reader into agreeing with Sadler that it could happen to them if they were to continue in their ‘testosterone charged fantasies’. Thus, the photo primarily seeks to reinforce the arguments made by the article by emphasizing the consequences of young males driving irresponsibly and aggressively.

Both the article and accompanying image complement one another in an attempt to urge the young male reader into adopting a safer and more responsible method of driving. Sadler first attempts to bring attention to the growing problem of aggressive and unwanted young masculine driving behavior before attempting to convince the reader into taking a more responsible approach to driving by appealing to their sense of fear for their lives and arguing against the reasons for driving irresponsibly. While the image serves to aid the article in its arguments by highlighting the tragic and uncommon consequences that may arise from reckless driving. Thus, the reader was able to be positioned into adopting the Sandler’s contention, which is to take a more controlled and calm approach when driving. This debate on the values and beliefs of young males when driving leading to detrimental consequences will only escalate, as the number of young deaths on the roads continually rises.
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Re: English Work Examples Directory
« Reply #35 on: December 14, 2010, 06:43:02 pm »
Richard III text response: Richard III demonstrates the destructive nature of ambition.

In Shakespeare’s play, Richard III, ambition is primarily portrayed as a vice with detrimental consequences befalling those who are too determined in the attainment of their goals and desires. The desire of Buckingham to gain land and wealth by helping Richard usurp the throne later causes his execution as Richard relinquishes his promises to him. While Richard’s own desire to become King of England through evil plots and machinations results in the deaths of the characters around him and the degradation of society. At the same time, the destructive nature of Richard’s ambition strikes at Richard himself at the denouement of the play, as his identity and sense of happiness is shattered. However, ambition is not always depicted as detrimental to those who possess it, but rather it proves to aid Richmond in his attempt to kill the tyrant Richard and bring peace back to England. Thus, for the most part, ambition which is caused by excessive greed and the need for self-gratification proves to be harmful to both the characters that possess it, but also for the environment that they inhabit.

The idea of ambition being damaging to characters is first presented through the Buckingham’s desire to gain material wealth by helping Richard with his plans. Initially, Buckingham is eager to aid Richard in his usurpation of the throne due to a combination of their close relationship and his desire to attain the ‘earldom of Hereford, and the movables whereof the King’ possessed. It is the latter of the two, however, that causes the destruction of Buckingham’s own sense of justice and set of morals in order to aid the ‘tyrant’ Richard in justifying the execution of Hastings, Rivers, Vaughan and Grey, along with manipulating the Mayor into joining Richard’s cause for becoming King and not giving it to ‘the corruption of a blemished stock’. However, Buckingham’s ambition goes further than to destroy his previously ‘fair’ principles, and later causes his execution for attempting to revolt against King Richard. His death results from attempting to claim his rewards in accordance to Richard’s earlier ‘promise’, and it is only when his request is rejected that Buckingham finally realizes that his ambition has allowed him to suffer and be manipulated under the ‘underhand corrupted foul injustices’ of Richard. Therefore, Buckingham is the first victim of the detrimental nature of ambition, as he loses both his life and his moral integrity to it. 

At the same time, it is Richard’s desire to usurp the throne of King Edward that causes the destruction of both England’s society and the lives of certain characters. Initially, Richard asserts his determination ‘to prove a villain’ through ‘subtle’ ‘drunken prophesies, libels and dreams’, and it is this ambition that leads him to take a ‘tyrannous’ and ‘bloody’ path in order to become King. The Princes in the tower are two of the many victims which fall under Richard’s ‘murderous knife’ that was ‘whetted on his stone-hard heart’, where Richard’s ambition to maintain his position as King causes him to become paranoid and wish for his potential rivals and the ‘bastards dead’. By the dénouement of the play, the Lords who had opposed him and many of Richard’s closest allies are ruthlessly murdered in order to fulfill his desire to take the throne, where Richard had become ‘so far in blood that sin will pluck on sin’. At the same time, even the society of England is tainted by the evilness and aspirations of Richard, as its justice and morals become replaced by corruption and ‘ill dealings’. The idea of Richard’s desire to become King ruining the society around him is explored in the scene when the cardinal eagerly agrees to serve Richard over his religion by ‘o’er-rul(ing) my mind for once’ and ‘infringe the holy privilege of blessed sanctuary’. Whilst the destruction of society is a secondary cause of Richard’s own ambition to become King, it is the desperateness of Richard to fulfill it that leads him to take drastic measures, even to the extent of attempting to mould society into acting out his own deeds. Thus, ambition not only causes internal damage to those who possess it, but also results in the destruction of other characters and the society around them.

Similarly, the idea of overly ambitious characters being destroyed is depicted in the downfall of Richard as his identity and sense of happiness is damaged beyond restoration. Throughout the play, Richard is able to act out in fulfillment of his desires, however this later changes as his overwhelming determination leads him to commit acts of murder and treachery without remorse; where this ultimately leads to succumb to his guilty conscience. This is shown in the scene where Richard dreams of the ghosts that he had wronged calling for him to ‘despair and die’ before waking up to find his determined villainous side conflicting with his conscience. Richard’s previous ‘bloody acts’ of ‘villainy’ performed in order to fulfill his ambition, where he had ‘clothed’ his ‘naked villainy with odd old ends stol’n forth of holy writ’ and seemed ‘a saint when most I [he] play the devil’, leads him to be unable to argue against the ‘thousand tongues’ of his conscience. The conscience of Richard causes his identity to be shattered and his happiness destroyed, as he concedes that ‘there is no creature loves me; and if I die no soul will pity me’, and is unable to deceive himself any longer as he exclaims that he is a ‘villain’ who ‘hates myself for hateful deeds committed by myself’. It is the overly ambitious side of Richard that is the direct cause of his own downfall and death at the hands of Richmond, as his determination to take the throne leads him towards performing acts of violence which he cannot later escape from. Hence, the deadly consequences that arise from being too determined in fulfilling one’s ambition is explored through Richard, as his downfall is a direct result of his actions performed in order to become King.

However, ambition that is a direct cause of seeking justice or peace is portrayed as being able to aid certain characters without any ill consequences later befalling them. This idea is explored through the moral and ‘courageous’ Richmond, where he is depicted as the ultimate victor who is able to slay the ‘bloody dog’ that is King Richard and restore England back to its previous state of glory. Richmond’s good nature and moral integrity allows him to fulfill his ambition to slay Richard, the ‘bloody tyrant and homicide’, where he is aided by ‘God’ and ‘the prayers of holy saints and wronged souls’ in his battle. At the same time, Shakespeare is able to convey the lack of consequences that befall the righteous in the final soliloquy of Richmond after he slays Richard, where Richmond exclaims that from this point onwards only ‘smooth-faced peace’ and ‘prosperous days’ will occur in England. There are no consequences to Richmond’s previously strong ambition to slay Richard, as he is instead depicted as the savior of England, where he is left unthreatened and able to freely maintain his position on the throne as he chooses to ‘unite the white rose and the red’ and ‘abate the edge of traitors’ while reducing ‘these bloody days’. Thus, not all ambition is destructive, as actions which are made in the name of peace and justice are able to be freely committed without any detrimental effects.

Therefore, in Richard III, over-ambition that is caused by selfishness is primarily depicted as destructive to both the characters that possess it and the environment around them. This is first presented through Buckingham, whose greed to gain material wealth ultimately leads to his execution by Richard for disobeying his orders. While Richard’s own ambition to usurp the throne causes the deaths of any character that opposes him along with the degradation of England’s society. Richard is himself not immune to the destructiveness of ambition, as he succumbs to his own guilty conscience and is left depressed and with a shattered identity when he is slain by Richmond at the dénouement of the play. However, ambition is not always depicted as destructive, as Richmond’s moral and just cause in fighting against Richard results in him not having to succumb to harmful consequences. Thus, while ambition is not always seen as detrimental to characters, it is primarily depicted to be so as the majority of characters who possess it tend to become too determined in fulfilling their evil or greedy intentions.
2009: History: Revolutions [42], Mathematical Methods [39]

2010: French [39], Chemistry [44], Physics [40], English [49], Specialist Mathematics [38]

ATAR: 99.60

2011: Bachelor of Commerce (Economics/Finance) @ Unimelb


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Re: English Work Examples Directory
« Reply #36 on: December 14, 2010, 06:47:50 pm »
Sample Whose Reality? context (though it is old and the external evidence is a bit too specific): Emotions and relationships are as real to us as our material circumstances.

Our own emotions and feelings for other people can be one of the most important aspects of our lives, and as such we may at times treat them in preference to our ‘real’ material circumstances. Occasionally, our feelings of love for those around us can often lead us to neglect or overlook the faults and problems associated with forming a relationship with the person. At the same time, the breakdown of relationships or the loss of our lover can potentially propel us into a state of depression and longing for the past which can verge on illusion, whilst also leading us to temporarily abandon the present circumstances. Similarly, an intense desire to have our love reciprocated may lead us to become oblivious to the occurrences that happen during our lives and instead focus upon winning the love of our dearest. However, our reliance on emotions and strong relationships may sometimes falter when a situation requires for us to forget about those closest to us and instead concentrate upon the task at hand. As one of the primary guides in taking action during our lives, our belief and reliance in our emotions and relationships have the ability to transcend the events and circumstances that occur around us.

As one of the most intense emotions that humans can experience, love can at times lead people to neglect their present surroundings. Our intense love for our most beloved can often lead us to overlook the faults associated with the behavior or personality of our potential lover. An example of this is presented in Tennessee William’s play, A Streetcar Named Desire, where Stella is able to overlook the material circumstances of her household and continue to love Stanley. After Blanche’s initial stay at her apartment, she points out to Stella the true nature of Stanley that she had experienced, where he was ‘common’ and ‘ape-like’ in his aggressive ways. However, Stella is unable to truly understand or accept Blanche’s statements, as she shields these accusations with her deep love for Stanley, telling Blanche that their love together had made ‘everything else seem – unimportant’. Instead of accepting that Stanley is an aggressive husband who could turn to physical violence when drunk, Stella instead chooses to dwell on his positive characteristics as a ‘good lamb’.  Even at the dénouement of the play, when Blanche is later raped by Stanley and tells Stella of the incident, she refuses to believe her own sister as she would not be able to ‘go on living with Stanley’ if she did. Our strong emotions and feelings for one another can at times overshadow the material circumstances that occur in our lives.

Similarly, the breakdown of a relationship or the loss of a loved one can have detrimental consequences and destroy our regard for the present circumstances around us. At times, the loss of our most beloved can cause us to become propelled into an illusion where the happier moments of the past are emphasized and the present are neglected. This idea is explored in Tennessee William’s play, A Streetcar Named Desire, where the suicide of Blanche’s previous husband, Allan Grey, causes her world to be ‘turned off’ and leads her to retreat into her own fantasy where she has a falsified self-image and prefers ‘realism’ over ‘magic’. Blanche’s yearning to escape away from poverty and to feel happiness once more with another loving husband causes her to neglect her own material circumstances, where she is now an aging ‘Southern Belle’ searching for a fantastical ‘young prince out of the Arabian Nights’. When Mitch discovers her sinister past and refuses to marry her as she ‘not clean enough’ to bring into his house, Blanche’s last remaining remnants of returning to the past are shattered as she falls deeper into illusion before she completely loses touch with the present and would rather live on ‘an ocean as blue as her first lover’s eyes’. If we rely too much on our relationships and they fail, then tragic consequences may occur causing us to lose connection with the present environment.

At the same time, our desire to have our love reciprocated with another person may cause us to become oblivious to everything around us apart from the person whom we love. This love may be so severe that we may create self-propelled illusions to reaffirm our love’s reciprocation of our advances when all events that are occurring seem to prove otherwise. This is explored in Ian McEwan’s novel, Enduring Love, where Jed Parry’s own world is ‘determined from the inside, driven by [the] private necessity’ to bring Joe Rose to God through love. Joe’s continued attempts to reject the advances made by Jed prove to be futile as Jed’s strong desire to persuade Joe to love him blinds him from perceiving the world as it really is. Instead, Jed creates his own fantasy stemming from his own emotions, where he ‘illuminated the world with his feelings, and the world would confirm him at every turn’. Even by the end of the novel, when Jed is sent to a mental hospital for resorting to violence in an attempt to gain Joe’s love, he is still ‘inviolable in his solipsism’ and unable to accept the material circumstances that are presented before him but rather choosing to completely trust his emotions and personal thoughts. Unrequited love can be detrimental if we allow it to overtake and manipulate the way we perceive events that occur in the real world around us.

However, there are times when the material circumstances surrounding us force us to take leave of our relationships and emotions. Occasionally, our sense of duty to serve our country in times of emergency can surpass our strong desire to live happily with our loved ones. This is the case with the soldiers of America’s Battalion of Camp Lejeune, where their duty in the armed forces to serve in Afganistan has forced them to attempt to temporarily forget about the existence of their family and loved ones during battle in order to boost their fighting efficiency. Due to the harsh conditions during their time in service where ‘phone calls home are rare, and letters can sometimes take weeks’, many soldiers have allowed their material circumstances to dictate their way they live. Where one such Marine’s time spent in the war-torn country has made his relationship with his wife seem like a fantasy of the distant past, as he would become ‘eager to forget about his home life by going on endless patrols’ to ensure the security of Afghanistan. While our emotions are an integral part of our lives, there may be times when our material circumstances require us to neglect the reality of these feelings, desires and relationships.

The emotions and relationships can have such an important influence upon our lives that we may prioritize them to be on the same level, or even higher, than the actual material circumstances and events that occur around us. Our intense love for another person may lead us to deliberately overlook the disparities associated with that person’s actions of characteristics. At the same time, the loss of someone close to us can provoke intense emotions that may propel us into a sense of melancholy and longing for the past. Similarly, unrequited love can have tragic consequences if we are unable to overcome the refusal and instead allow it to take over our lives. However, emotions and relationships are also sometimes suppressed with our material circumstances taking top priority in our lives. Since our emotions and the relationships we have with other people are such a vital part of our daily lives, it is not abnormal for us to treat these with the same importance as our material circumstances.
2009: History: Revolutions [42], Mathematical Methods [39]

2010: French [39], Chemistry [44], Physics [40], English [49], Specialist Mathematics [38]

ATAR: 99.60

2011: Bachelor of Commerce (Economics/Finance) @ Unimelb


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English Guides, Sample Pieces, Tips and Resources
« Reply #37 on: December 19, 2010, 12:15:28 am »

This is a collection of useful guides and resources for VCE English, written by various members of the forum. To keep this thread organised, questions or discussions about any of the guides listed below should be posted in the guide's original thread. This is to keep this thread organised. A link to the original thread can be found on each guide in this page.

If you want to contribute any guides or pieces to this thread, then post them in the original thread and then PM myself or any of the other English or National Moderators to update it in here.

EvangelionZeta's English FAQs
EvangelionZeta's guide to preparing for the English exam
Nick's essential writing tips
werdna's tips for English
pi's tips for English
BA22's exam advice
funkyducky's List of Issues for the English Oral 2011

Assorted commercial study guides 

Shinny's guide to context writing
VivaTequila's how to write a 20/20 Context Piece
literally lauren's Context External Examples and Evidence

Costargh's language analysis study pack
Lynt.br's crash course in language analysis
dilks' Glossary of Visual Devices
Section C - Language Analysis - Sample Text Repository
literally lauren's Structuring a LA with example

Also Like!  VCE Study Guides on Facebook for daily tips and updates.

• Various practice essay topics by transgression
• Additional practice topics are also available in the Essay Topics Megathread
Section C - Language Analysis - Sample Text Repository

• The English Work Examples Directory contains a wide variety of written pieces submitted by ATARNotes.com members, created by shinny.

• EvangelionZeta and lexitu have kindly run an oral coaching session to prepare students for their assessed speech.  A video of the session can be viewed here. It includes performances from ATARNotes.com members kyzoo, Water and Andiio
VivaTequila's Oral Presentation Planning Guide
Oral Presentations: How to speak in Public (from the 2012 PESA Champion)


VCAA Study Design
English and ESL Study Design 2008-2011
Official Assessment Handbook

VCAA Exams
VCAA's Past Exam Papers
VCAA's English Sample Exam
VCAA's ESL Sample Exam

The Elements of Style by William Strunk, Jr.
Writing guide given to all journalists at The Economist
Talk by John Kilner from The Age on the topic of issues for VCE English students.
How to write an op-ed (Opinion piece in newspapers)
MIT Writing and Communication Resources
The Age 'Text Talk' Articles (various texts)
Student Welfare Outreach Team (SWOT) @ Melbourne Uni's volunteer English Notes

werdna and VivaTequila
Yang Li
werdna's last minute exam Q&A
literally lauren
« Last Edit: November 07, 2014, 03:23:45 pm by literally lauren »


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Re: English Guides, Tips and Resources
« Reply #38 on: December 19, 2010, 12:19:45 am »
DISCONTINUED; an updated and more informative version can be obtained by attending my English preparation course outlined here
Original thread here

What is the context?
As a result of the new English course in 2008, the most significant change that was implemented is definitely the introduction of the context writing task. This will most likely be the section of the exam which you will find most frustrating throughout the year as I know from having to go through it all, and I'm writing this guide to hopefully alleviate your worries and shed some light on the ambiguity of this section. You'll realise throughout the year that nobody really knows what to do in this section (even teachers!) and this was pretty clear from the activity on the English board prior to the English exam, so hopefully this guide will answer any questions people have throughout the year before they start reposting the same questions over and over again. Basically, context is section B in the exam, and it is worth equal marks to the other two sections, so you'll definitely have to put some effort into it. The context task involves 'write an extended piece for a specified purpose and audience, exploring ideas and using detail from at least one text'. Basically, this task revolves around broad IDEAS as opposed to specific textual ideas as in the text response, or analysis of language as in the language analysis task. Also, rather than always writing for an academic audience as you would in the other two pieces, context writing often gives you the leniency to write for other sorts of audiences, and in a large variety of text types.

What are the different contexts?
The four different contexts at current are:
  • Whose Reality?
  • Exploring Issues of Identity and Belonging
  • Encountering Conflict
  • The Imaginative Landscape
As you can see, the ideas behind each of these are VERY broad, and this is the basis of the context style of writing. What you should do in the holidays is try and get a grasp of exactly what each of these contexts are demanding of you. The easiest way to do this is to read through your texts and try and extract the key ideas. Anything that VCAA gives in the exam will be universal to all your texts as the task must be applicable to any of the four texts provided, so you can even use this as a means of predicting what will be on the exam. By knowing the key ideas of the context, this will narrow down exactly what you need to study for as like I said, these context ideas are quite broad. For example, 'Whose Reality?' was an extremely broad context, and I wasted a lot of time at the start of the year focusing on the philosophical side of this, but soon realised that VCAA would never even ask anything like that. Rather, this context was more of a question of perceptions and so on. By knowing exactly what the context is demanding of you, you'll be able to save a lot of time and yield better results, particularly in the vaguer ones such as 'Whose Reality?' and 'The Imaginative Landscape'.

So how do I prepare for the context?
Write. It's that simple. Like any section of the exam, writing a context piece every fortnight or so will get you quite far. However, the problem is often that you have nothing to write about. This is where research and preparation comes into play. For the context, often you'll feel like you're short of ideas, or even worse, short of EVIDENCE. Evidence is something that everyone will struggle with if they are writing in the expository or persuasive styles (more on this later). I'd say most people will get this dilemma because so many of the ideas in the context seem so obvious that getting an example, or just using an example to explain them seems quite trivial given how obvious they are. But examiners won't necessarily feel the same way, and as with any essay, any point you make must be supported by evidence. The great thing about context is that you can pretty much get evidence from ANYWHERE, but the thing to watch out for is evidence which the examiners have never heard about, or just isn't credible. My advice is to begin with a quote database. A quick googling will net you quite a lot of quotes, and these will often come in handy. They can also help form the basis of your ideas, and I'd definitely recommend getting this started ASAP as it's pretty mindless work. Next comes your actual evidence. This can take on many forms, but like I mentioned before, try and choose stuff that people have heard of. My recommendations are:
  • Literature (Books, plays, poetry)
  • Research studies
  • Films
  • Current and historical events
  • Psychological/social/economic/scientific/whatever theories (Wikipedia anyone?)
  • And most obviously, your set texts
This doesn't necessarily involve having to read or watch a great deal. Just randomly googling or link jumping on Wikipedia helped me find A LOT of information already. I'm personally not a big reader myself, so the majority (basically, all of it) was done on the internet, and it's quite possible to find what you need quite quickly.

Also, the other step to preparing is definitely just sitting down, and thinking about your context. Depending on how motivated you are, try and do this in idle time also, such as when you're catching public transport or something. I've had some pretty good ideas come to me just in these sorts of times.

So how should I approach the context?
All of the contexts indeed seem very complicated and the types of topics which can be asked seem very varied, but I think the easiest way to approach it is to break it down into something more manageable is to think of it like this. In general from what I've seen, any topic will be either one of an 'effects/consequences' prompt, a 'causes' prompt or a 'big ideas' prompt. Typically from what I've seen, they will favour cause or effect style questions. I'll try and explain this better by using the actual exam prompts provided in 2008.

Cause: I see a cause question as in terms of a prompt which discusses the factors and reasons which lead the ambiguities of the context idea to form. This is made clearer in the 'Identity and Belonging' prompt from 2008 which was 'Our relationships with others help us to define who we are.' The prompt is clearly talking about the factors which help define who we are, and in this case, specifically on relationships.
Consequences: In contrast, I see a consequences question as being one which deals with the various implications that the context idea can create. This is pretty obviously matched by the 2008 'Whose Reality?' prompt ''We can evade "reality" but we cannot avoid the consequences of doing so.' I assume not much more explanation needs to be done regarding this.
The 'big ideas': Well I really don't know what to call this one actually so pardon the dodgy name, but I've occasionally seen questions which don't particularly classify well under either of the above two. What this one deals with is the central ideas, and you'll be expecting plenty of room for philosophical discussion within such prompts. However, I don't think any of the VCAA ones classify particularly well under this, so I'll provide my own example. A 'Whose Reality?' prompt I did for my SAC is 'We can never attain a fully objective view of reality because we remain trapped in the prison of our subjectivity'. As you can see, this one doesn't particularly fit as a cause or effect of reality, but rather, it deals with the various forms of reality that exist and how they exist. Typically, I don't think you'll be doing this on the exam as it actually delves quite deep philosophically and that's something VCAA doesn't really want to do I assume, but be prepared I guess.

OK, now to actually get down to how breaking it down like such can actually help you. The following mostly applies for the expository and persuasive styles, but I imagine the imaginative style can use a modified exercise which suits its purpose better. Basically, I based the majority of my context study off the structure described above because it allowed me to break down exactly what information I needed to obtain easily, rather than blinding hunting on a broad topic such as 'reality' or 'conflict'. Since I did 'Whose Reality?', I started thinking about the 'big ideas' of reality, and came up with various forms such as the subjective reality, objective reality and physical reality, and from there, came across various other forms  of reality on Wikipedia thought up by philosophers such as 'hyper reality' and the 'absolute reality'. Once I had listed all these down, I would extend dot points outwards which listed any evidence from my prescribed texts which explains these concepts, followed by a piece of information not from my texts which also explains these concepts. I would then go to the 'causes' and think of things which cause these various forms of reality to exist and ask myself questions such as 'Why is there a subjective reality' and such, which gave broad answers such as physical and psychological differences, from which I could break it down further into things like mental illnesses and such for psychological. Yet again, just list a piece of evidence from your texts, and one from elsewhere. Lastly of course, I got to the 'consequences' where I'd just do the same thing again as causes and just write out possible consequences and evidence etcetc.

Also, through this structure, an aspect of the context should be made more clear to you which will actually affect the way you write. The context key words are not straight-forward and well defined. As I've just pointed out, I realised there was various forms of reality such as the physical, the subjective and so on. In this case, this means it actually makes no sense to just use the word 'reality' on its own in any of my essays as I haven't specified which type, and hence my sentence will lose all clarity. Even VCAA themselves apostrophised the word 'reality' in their 'Whose Reality?' prompt in 2008, so I'd see it as an indication that VCAA too acknowledges such distinctions and will probably penalise people who view the context too low-level. I'd say all of the context key-words are multi-faceted as conflict can be seen in terms of physical conflict such as war, as well as lesser thought of ones such as emotional or conflicts within one self, and such distinctions can be seen throughout all four contexts. It is due to this that you will always need to be more specific in your essays and your general thinking when approaching these ideas and I guess this is my warning for you all.

Anyway getting back to what I was saying, it doesn't really matter exactly how you apply this structure; personally I just had a word document where I'd copy-paste excerpts from Wikipedia and journals and such, but a scrapbook is often recommended for context by teachers. Basically, the point of this was just to show that despite how daunting the context seems at first and how ambiguous your aims and goals are for studying it, it definitely can be broken down tier by tier and approached in a more manageable way, and I think the three catagories I've outlined above are just a nice, simple starting point for doing this. Of course, if you find a better way which works for you; go for it. This was just my method and thought others would find it beneficial. Also, using such a structure when it comes to studying will also help you. Last year, I put a lot of effort into mastering the 'cause' style essays and did to a full mark level as practically every commercial trial exam had this style of question for 'Whose Reality?' and it seemed to me like the most obvious style of question to ask as I thought consequence questions would probably have too much overlap with the Conflict context. But no. A consequence question did indeed come up on the exam and I pretty much got screwed over as I did none of these for exam practise. Sure, I had a few examples and such that gave me fuel in the exam, but it was definitely no where near as good quality as what I had produced on 'cause' style essays. Basically the lesson is to study equally among these sections, and dividing the context into these three will probably help achieve such a balance.

What are the text types?
The text types as indicated by VCAA are:
  • Expository
  • Persuasive
  • Imaginative
My advice is to decide early on in the year which one of these you're intending to do on the exam, and utterly master that style. Also note that these styles are not to be seen as always mutually exclusive, and you can write what is called a 'hybrid' piece which combines two of these styles, although I think the only way that'd work is if you combine expository with imaginative, or persuasive with imaginative. This is because the expository and persuasive styles in my view are mutually exclusive and I don't see how a piece could be both at the same time.

Persuasive Writing
Purpose: The purpose of a persuasive piece is quite obvious - to persuade the audience that your point of view is correct.
Forms: There are MANY possible forms for persuasive writing. Some include:
  • Speeches
  • Letters (Letter to the editor, to a friend etc)
  • Editorials
  • Opening/closing speeches of a court case (This form worked very well for me in a SAC)
  • Advertisements
Stylistic Features: You should know from language analysis the features of a persuasive piece already. Most obvious of all, remember your PERSUASIVE TECHNIQUES. I'm not going to go through each of these as you should know them, but ones you should definitely remember are negative word connotations and rhetorical questions since they stand out. The other feature you should have if you want a better mark is at least a paragraph of rebuttal. To do this, just pretend you're arguing the other side, think of an argument, and then counter-argue it.

Imaginative Writing
Purpose: Imaginative pieces will tend to be either expository or persuasive, but other times it might be hard to define their purpose. Basically, do whatever you want as long as the ideas relate to the prompt.
Forms: There's quite a wide variety of forms for this, but the most common would be things such as short stories, diary entries and the like. Try and be creative and go for something weird; it often pays off.
Stylistic Features: It really depends on the form. There's not much advice I can give about imaginative writing except that you just need to make sure that you don't go too nuts with it. Basically, check that:
  • It is CLEARLY related to the prompt
  • It somehow incorporates the ideas from your texts
  • It preferably has some sort of direct link to your text just to make it even more obvious
  • Your message is presented clearly (although subtlety can be quite artistic in imaginative writing, you're risking marks if the examiner doesn't notice it, and the thing is, most likely they won't given how fast they read)

Expository Writing

Note: PM me any questions and I'll add them here.

Do we have to use our texts?
For SACs, ask your teacher as the requirements change throughout every school. For the exam, yes, you definitely must use your text in some form or another. This is clearly indicated in VCAA stating that you must use 'detail from at least one text selected from the English/ESL Text list 2'. Also, one of the four criteria used to mark the piece is 'effective use of detail and ideas drawn from the selected text as appropriate to the task', so I assume that despite the freedom given in context writing, quite significant use of the provided texts is still imperative in obtaining a high mark.

How do we use our texts?
The key to using your texts is linking with IDEAS. I've bolded this word through this guide because this is the foundation of context writing. It is about ideas, but ideas must be supported with evidence, and often you will also use your texts as direct sources of evidence. This can be done by:
  • Direct quoting
  • Mentioning events, outcomes, consequences
However, sometimes people may not want to use their texts directly, and often they cannot such as in a pure imaginative piece. In these cases, you could either resort to indirect quoting (quoting a SIGNIFICANT phrase from the book but pretending it is your own words), or rely on OBVIOUS idea links. If there is a predominate theme throughout your book, by adopting a similar theme in your piece, you should be able to score the marks for textual references. This can be ASSISTED by mirroring elements of the book, such as adopting a similar setting, character names, events and so on, but keep in mind that unless you have idea links, then these are simply just gimmicks.

How much do we have to use our texts?
I can't give a straight answer to this and the examiner's report is likely to change my answer to this, but I still recommend that 50% of your evidence should come from your texts. I did the expository style for the entire year, and what I did was that in each paragraph, I'd have an idea supported by a piece of evidence from my text, then backed up by a piece of evidence from another source. This was an easy way to maintain the 50% balance, and it worked quite well for me considering this structure got me a 10/10 from a VCAA examiner in two trial exams I did.

How does expository or persuasive context essay writing differ to text responses?
If you're doing an essay style, many will ask what the difference is between these pieces. Basically, as I've mentioned throughout, context writing is about ideas, and hence, the focus of your piece are on these ideas. As a consequence, the topic sentences in your context writing will always refer to a GENERALISED IDEA, from which you use your texts and other material to support, whereas the topic sentences in your text responses will be likely to refer directly to the text itself.

What's the difference between an essay topic and a prompt?
The most obvious difference is that the prompt isn't actually phrased as a question. Consequently, you don't actually have to directly respond to it or agree/disagree with it or anything; it is merely there to inspire you and let your writing be based off of it. As a result, usually it is best to narrow down the prompt into a smaller focus question and work from there as it keeps your piece more focused.


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Re: English Guides, Tips and Resources
« Reply #39 on: December 19, 2010, 12:23:09 am »
Original thread here

Due to popular demand I am releasing my Language Analysis Study Pack
It consists of:
- A methodological guide to writing a language analysis
- Three personally written examples
- A visual image activity

Hint: Look for elements in my examples that you can transfer into your essays. This is the method I used to help refine my own writing and develop it.



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Re: English Guides, Tips and Resources
« Reply #40 on: December 19, 2010, 12:26:59 am »
Original thread here


I made this post in another thread but figured it was pretty comprehensive so I've decided to turn it into a thread of its own. Essentially this is a crash course in how to approach Language Analysis, either in a SAC or an exam.

Honestly I found Language Analysis to be the most formulaic section on the English exam and consequently the most straightforward. Once you know what exactly the examiners are looking for and then devise some structure so that you satisfy this criteria, it really does become a mechanical 'fill in the blanks' process. The objective of this guide is to shed some light on the structure I used in VCE English Language Analysis and how it can hopefully help you blitz through what I believe is the easiest section of the exam.

As the original post was in response to a question, this guide doesn't cover all there is about language analysis. Most noticeably, it does not explain how to handle the introduction, conclusion, visuals or what to do if you have to analyse 2+ articles. This guide simply covers how you should approach the actual analysis part of a language analysis. If I ever get the time, I may update this thread to account for the areas I have not covered, although bear in mind, it took my over 2000 words to explain the process behind creating a 120 word paragraph. Hopefully that explains why I may be slow in updating this guide, if I ever get around to it.

A lot of the examples and extracts I use in this guide were loosely based on the 2008 English Exam's Language Analysis section (I personally prefer that article over the 2009 one for the purposes of language analysis). Because VCAA doesn't show the article on its website, I've attached it at the bottom of this post. All credit to the illustrator yada yada.

Also if people would be so kind as to notify me if I've made any stupid spelling errors or grammatical mistakes. This is something I'm prone to do, a problem only exacerbated when most of this guide was written in a sleep deprived state of mind (as evidenced by this thread's time of post).

A Crash Course in Language Analysis
Written (and yet to be edited) by lynt.br

You aren't awarded marks for being able to name 'persuasive techniques'. You often see people after a SAC or exam discussing "Did you get X technique? I missed Y technique". This is the wrong approach to language analysis. Examiners are looking for students who are sensitive to the effects a piece of writing will have on a reader and why readers are likely to feel this way. Essentially, they want to know what is the effect of the persuasive element? and why is that effect likely to occur?

A good approach is to look at the article as a whole and consider the main arguments it is trying to make. What is the writer's objective? What does he or she want the reader to feel at certain points in the text? Once you have identified this, you then determine how the writer uses language to achieve this effect. If the text made you feel anger or disgust to a certain group, how did it do so and why?

This is where you can start locating persuasive techniques or elements that support the writer's objective. If you observe the writer is trying to make you feel sympathy for group X, you may identify that this is achieved through the use of highly emotive words or emotional appeals that provoke pity towards the wronged group. If the writer is trying to make the reader realise the absurdity of a certain proposition, you may identify that they use a rhetorical question to illustrate how no one would agree with the propositions terms.

When you work through the article this way you are no longer bound by identifying persuasive techniques, or feeling as though you need to memorise a list of persuasive techniques and then scan an article looking for them. You may also realise that some of your answers to the question "how does the writer achieve this effect?" are not confined to a specific technique. This is fine. In fact, I would argue that it is actually the better approach because it shows you really understand the "how?" question rather than just memorising techniques. As long as you can justify how something you have identified creates a certain effect, it does not matter whether you refer to it as a persuasive technique or not. For example, if you are explaining how a sense of emergency is evoked within readers through words and phrases such as "crisis", "danger" and "impending disaster", you do not necessarily have to explicitly mention that this is an appeal to fear.

A basic but effective structure to follow when writing a language analysis would look as follows. This is essentially what I did in my exam.

The basic formula when analysing language is:

A technique/element is used in B specific example to create C effect. This is likely to occur because of D.

Let me step through each letter.

If you are going to mention the persuasive technique, use it as a framing device for your specific examples in part B. "An appeal to reader sympathy through the use of emotive language such as "X" "Y" "Z"....". You may notice that mentioning the technique is not really necessary or indeed sometimes impossible as examples X Y Z won't fall under a specific technique. As I said earlier, this is not an issue. This example could just as easily and validly have started as "emotional language such as "X", "Y", "Z"" or even just "words such as "X", "Y", "Z"....".

Obviously you need to give examples. Don't just say the writer uses rhetorical questions to achieve X effect without giving an example. Your examples should also be as specific and precise as possible. If you can, you should aim to look at the individual words or phrases within an example that cause the effect C. Obviously this will not always be possible. Sometimes you will have to analyse a rhetorical question or a metaphor as a whole and cannot break it down any further. As a general rule of thumb, the more precise your examples, the better your analysis.

To illustrate, look at the following extract:
The metaphor "toxic parents are poisoning our club" encourages readers to recognise the gravity of the issue. Readers are led to believe that such parents are a malign influence on the sports club. The use of inclusive language further personalises the issue and engenders a sense of responsibility amongst readers who may realise that unless action is taken, these sports-aggressive parents will continue to sour the club's atmosphere."

This is by no means a bad analysis, but it is not a effective one either because it is simply too broad. Essentially, it states that the entire metaphor quoted has the effects it lists. In reality, only specific elements of the metaphor create the effect listed. For instance, it is the specific words "toxic" and "poisonous" that create the perception of the parents as a malign influence. As I mentioned earlier, quoting the entire metaphor (ie. identifying the technique) should simply create a frame for your analysis. You then dissect elements or words from this 'frame' to analyse. It's a bit like saying "Here is a section of the text we are going to look at" and then dissecting that section bit by bit.

You may have noticed other mistakes in that example. For instance, I mentioned inclusive language but didn't give a pinpoint example. Even if you think it is obvious from the section quoted, it is always beneficial to pinpoint the exact word/phrase which is 'inclusive' rather than making the examiner do the work of figuring that out.

A further issue is that I have not explained why the effects listed are likely to occur. I'll address this issue when I look at part D.

By noting these shortcomings and making some corrections, we can vastly improve our analysis by making it much more precise and clear:
The metaphor "toxic parents are poisoning our club" encourages readers to recognise the gravity of the issue. The words "toxic" and "poisoning" invite the perception that such parents are a malign influence on the sports club. The inclusive term "our club" further personalises the issue and engenders a sense of responsibility amongst readers who may realise that unless action is taken, these sports-aggressive parents will continue to sour the club's atmosphere."

This is much better, but it still has problems. Namely, I haven't explained why readers will feel this way. I'll address this issue when we look at section D.

What is the resultant or likely effect of the examples listed in B? This is extremely straightforward yet is critical to the success of your language analysis. Emotional appeals are obviously designed to elicit a certain emotional response from readers, statistics may make the writer look more informed, rhetorical questions may highlight something as absurd etc. etc. Just remember that the relationship between a technique and its effect is not fixed. Always analyse the effect of a technique in the context of the text you are analysing. Statistics may not always have the primary effect of making the writer look informed, they may instead highlight the magnitude or pettiness of something.

Another thing to avoid is specifying the effect in terms that are too broad or in a way that does not relate clearly to the text. Do not simply say "the appeal to fear XYZ raises concern and worry in readers." Concern and worry for what? You need to relate the effects back to the issue described in the text, otherwise your statements will be too general.

Too general:
The inclusive term "our club" causes readers to feel involved and creates a sense of responsibility.

Involved in what? Responsibility to do what? Do not let your examiner ask such questions.

Relate it to the issue described in the text:
The inclusive term "our club" further personalises the issue and engenders a sense of responsibility amongst readers, many of who will invariable be parents that attend the sports club and would be compelled to take preventative action against sports aggressive parents to preserve the amicable atmosphere of the sports venue.

Section D should explain why the effect listed in C is likely to happen. This is probably the most commonly omitted section in language analysis, yet it is probably of equal importance to section C. A lot of students know that examiners are looking for effects rather than techniques, but then fail to flesh out their discussion of the effects by not explaining how these effects are likely to come about. The simplest way to satisfy this section is to use the word "because..."  e.g., "X effect happens because of Y".

Look at the example used before:
The metaphor "toxic parents are poisoning our club" encourages readers to recognise the gravity of the issue. The words "toxic" and "poisoning" invite the perception that such parents are a malign influence on the sports club.

Why do these words invite such a perception? Because the words have strong negative connotations attached which imply something perverse or pernicious.

The words "toxic" and "poisoning" invite the perception that such parents are a malign influence on the sports club because of their strong attached negative connotations which imply something destructive.

A problem arises when you try to cram too many sections into one sentence. Often the sentence will come out clumsy or ambiguous like the one above. Does the portion in red relate to the words or the parents? It may seem obvious that in the context of language analysis it is referring to the words quoted, but this sort of clumsy ambiguous language should still be avoided if possible. There is nothing wrong with breaking up long sentences which can't be handled easily into a series or sentences. This often allows more discussion as well.

The words "toxic" and "poisoning" have strong attached negative connotations which invite the perception that such parents are a malign influence on the sports club. This is because "toxic" implies something destructive and the verb "poisoning" suggests something is being killed or debased - in this case, the clubs friendly and supportive atmosphere.

The best answers will relate why an effect is likely to occur with specific audience groups. In the example I used earlier, the inclusive language is more likely to engender a sense of responsibility amongst parents who frequent the sports club because they are a stakeholder in the issue. It is going to be less persuasive to someone who does not go to that sports club and therefore is less inclined to care about its well-being.

For example:
A description of the chickens as being "slaughtered", "butchered" and "maimed" is likely to provoke a strong sense of sympathy and injustice, particularly amongst readers who are sensitive to animal rights and are therefore more likely to empathise with the chickens or feel an aversion towards such acts of cruelty.

So if you put all those steps together, we end up with this:
The metaphor "toxic parents are poisoning our club" encourages readers to recognise the gravity of the issue. The words "toxic" and "poisoning" have strong attached negative connotations which invite the perception that such parents are a malign influence on the sports club. This is because "toxic" implies something destructive and the verb "poisoning" suggests something has been 'killed' - in this case, the clubs friendly and supportive atmosphere.The inclusive term "our club" further personalises the issue and may compel readers, particularly those who attend the sports club, to confront sports-aggressive parents about their behaviour.

The good thing about this structure is that each section is modular. You can, and should, mix up your order of A, B, C and D (Although obviously make sure what you're writing makes logical sense). If you stick to the exact same formula throughout the entire language analysis, your writing will be predictable, boring and overly prescribed. To show that you are doing more than just working from a set formula (even if you actually are), try to mix up the way you order sections A, B, C and D every now and then. For instance, maybe start by describing the effect first rather than the technique, then going back to explain how the effect was achieved.

The challenge now is to be able to familiarise yourself with these four steps so that in an exam or SAC you can quickly cover as much of the article as necessary and in sufficient detail. There is no point having a perfect analysis of only one quarter of the article. Aim to make this process mechanical so that when it comes to an exam or SAC, you know exactly what you need to be writing and can avoid worrying about whether or not you are satisfying the criteria.

Last Updated 20/3/10


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Re: English Guides, Tips and Resources
« Reply #41 on: December 19, 2010, 12:29:46 am »
Original thread here

As we approach D-Day, I've started to notice the same sorts of questions pop up repeatedly in threads.  As a result, I think it would be prudent to compile common concerns, and address them with one sticky topic - so here goes.

Dear EZ: What do I do?

One of the most common concerns of people is "How do I study for English?".  Fair enough.  Unlike maths or science, it doesn't seem like you can just jump straight into an exam, mark it yourself, and work out approximately what study score you'll get.  So where to begin?

Genesis: The Beginning

Initially, I would recommend you work out where you stand in regards to the three tasks required of you - language analysis, context, and text response.  The former is arguably the only one which can be approached in a science/maths sort of fashion, something which I will go into later.  For the context and the text part of the exam however, what you need to do is reflect upon how much you actually know - can you list all of the major scenes in your texts (for both context and text response) off the top of your head?  Do you remember quotes?  Can you pick out the major themes for the prompts you're going to get?  If no is the answer to these questions, it's time for some note-making to occur.

In terms of notes, English actually doesn't need to be that detailed, save for perhaps the quote sheet.  In my experience, it's easiest to start by looking at old/company exam prompts; some of the are horrendeous (for instance, the prompt "How do Richard's soliloquies influence the audience's response to the play?" in the Kilbaha 2009 exam is too narrow to come up unless the VCAA wants to screw you over), but on the whole you can probably glean from them the commonly occuring "themes" which occur.  In Whose Reality, for instance, you'll often find that topics relate to how our realities our formed (with a special focus on subjectivity, memory, illusion and relationships) and the results of differences occuring within our realities (usually conflict or misunderstanding). 

Language Analysis: The Unloved Child

I should point out before I get too detailed that language analysis is, first of all, probably the worst part of the English exam, and secondly, the easiest.  Everything from here onwards pretty much applies to language analysis (minus most of the notemaking part), but in less detail.  If you're not too good on language analysis terms, read one of the various guides on the forum - they're all great resources.  You won't need to spend as much time working on language analysis, but it's absolutely essential you start off by writing the essays with no constraints, so that you can perfect whichever "formula" you intend on using.  As soon as you have your "formula" perfected, go write a bunch of timed ones, until you can do a "perfected formula" response to time.  After that, write one every so often, but concentrate more on the other two tasks, since they're much more complicated and require more thought to succeed in.  Godspeed.

The Manipulator: Making the Notes

Moving on from that segue, after you've identified the common themes of the various prompts, the next stage is to work out exactly what kind of arguments you'll need, and what kind of evidence you'll need to support it.  To be honest, I'd recommend tackling a few of the easier looking essay prompts first before doing anything else - that way, you work out what kind of quotes are easy to use, and what kind of arguments flow most naturally when writing.  When you've done a handful of such essays (I usually moved on after three), I would then begin to compile a set of notes.  You can, of course, plagarise your own work - in fact, my quote sheet for Richard III was essentially just copy-pasting all the quotes I had used in three essays and a set of thirty comprehension/analysis questions which my teacher had set.  By the same token, note down points you've used before (especially in Context, where each text will only really lend itself to being used for half a dozen points at most if you're not doing Creative), and set them all out in a document, for easy reference.

Study Scores: Revenge of the Essays

With this process done, it's easiest to go back to writing more essays.  I would actually recommend against "memorising" anything until the final two or three weeks before the exam (in fact, I consciously tried to memorise my Classics quotes in the last week before the exam) - in the process of compiling notes and writing essays, you actually come to remember things, so it's unnecessary to try and remember things until you KNOW you need to work to remember them. 

Of course, there's more to it this time.  In the process of writing the essays following the note process, it's absolutely essential (even moreso than before) that you get your work marked, whether it be by your teacher or (failing that) somebody whom you know, like a tutor or even people on VCENotes.  This is because you want to "perfect" your work - I would allow for redrafting and spending unrealistic amounts of time writing, and at this stage I would definitely recommend avoiding writing to time.  The easiest way to explain why is by analogy: writing a lot of "dumb" essays at this stage is like sifting through a dark, smelly hole to find the light of camembert cheese.  Writing a lot of "perfected" essays is, in contrast, more akin to making the cheese yourself in the middle of a gourmet cheese kitchen (or wherever they make cheese).  Sure, you might randomly find some camembert one day wandering around (provided you don't die first from a lack of nourishment and sunlight), but growing the camembert yourself will allow you to replicate its process, until gradually, even in the middle of a dark, smelly hole, you can do it using the moulds which grow on cave walls or something.

Just an extra note that by "perfect", I don't mean that it has to be a 10/10.  Obviously, different people will "max out" at different numbers - what I mean is that you should get to a level where you feel satisfied, before you proceed to the next stage.

Time: The Next Frontier

Ignoring my almost pointless analogy, you should maintain your untimed essay writing until say, the end of the term 3 holidays (which, at the time of writing, is around now).  I'm not suggesting you should NEVER have written a timed essay by this point - I'd expect you to have done so in class, but if not, I guess do one or two earlier in the year to get the hang of it. 

Anyway, following your "perfecting" of your essays (and even if you aren't getting the scores you want by this stage), I would start to write to time.  Don't begin with the exact exam time - allow yourself maybe half an hour extra at the start if you REALLY need it, and gradually work your way up.  You don't want to throw yourself into the deep end too quickly - like a Pokemon, gradually build your skills from fighting level 20s, then levels 30s, instead of jumping right into the Elite Four.  Maybe try a practice exam with two or three weeks to go to see how you are with writing essays progressively.  This might be sounding like it's leaving it a bit late, but as long as you've had some practice beforehand, and as long as you've got "perfect" essays to work on, the speed-writing process should be made a bit faster, and hopefully, with three weeks to go, you can comfortably settle into the exam writing time.  My school has their practice exam two weeks before the actual one - this worked for me personally, but I would probably aim to do at least one three hour slogfest before the final two week run.  Don't overdo it though - to borrow my teacher's analogy, you don't want to train for a marathon by repeatedly running marathons.

Neon Genesis VCE English: The End of VCE English

By the last two or three weeks, you'll want to just keep practicing timing.  If it's really not working out (you're spending say, five-ten minutes more than you should), maybe cut back on your word count, but don't panic too much, since adrenaline in the exam will make you slightly faster (I went from finishing practice exams just in time in Classics to having about ten minutes leftover).  At the same time, try not to stress out to the point of figurative death - you don't want to work yourself up too hard before the big day, and in particular, you don't want to overwrite to the point where it all gets stale.

Once you feel fully confident (can't say when this will be for everyone, but for a couple of my friends it was around 10 timed essays in), it might be a better use of your time to write DETAILED plans instead of full essays.  This approach is actually quite useful, as it allows you to go through the same process as essay writing, with less emphasis on getting the writing done to time/quality (which you've already perfected) and more emphasis on mastering ideas.  The best way to go about this in my opinion is to write a full intro, topic sentences for every point, and then list the examples/quotes you're going to use under every point.  I know somebody who got 50 in the past, who wrote around 10-15 essays total, but something like 30 plans.  Crazy?  Perhaps.  Efficient?  Definitely.

The night before, just chill out, and don't stress too much.  It's time to start getting relaxed - you don't want to burn out right before the big three hours the next day.  Reread notes/essays/plans.  Memorise quotes.  Just don't stress, and don't write more essays.

On the day of the exam, take a deep breath and step in.  Calm yourself down beforehand and get a good night's sleep.  Make sure you use your reading time properly, and if you see an essay topic you've done/planned before, count yourself lucky, but don't get complacent.  Always make sure you work towards the nuances of what they are requiring of you.  The power is yours.

A Song of English and Concern: A Storm of Woes

What?  You want more?  Ok, here's a few miscellaneous comments to address common questions about the English exam.

To begin with, probably the most common (and controversial) query is how many words to write.  Personally, I would recommend 1000+ for all three (preferably 1200+ for Context and Text Response if you want the perfect 10s), but 800+ will probably suffice if you want to comfortably get an 8.  Something like a 9 or even a 10 is also doable (although 10s in particular are almost always of a considerable length) with such a number, but realistically, the longer an essay is, the more depth and content it can potentially have.  With that said, don't just write a lot for the sake of writing a lot - if you simply can't do it to time, or get 1000+ by padding out with pointless sentences, then you'd probably score better with less words. 

Second point, read the examiner's report, but remember that their samples are usually of the 8/10 level.  They might say that they're high scoring responses, but to get a 9 or a 10, you'll need to top what they provide you with.  Look at the work directory sticky to find essays written by people who have gotten in the mid-high 40s range - they are generally superior to what you will find on the VCAA website.

Thirdly, the issue of time may often be significant.  If you really feel concerned, start earlier than I have indicated.  Nevertheless, I stand by what I say in arguing that the best way to improve time is to write a lot of essays after having "perfected" what you are going to write.  Memorise if absolutely necessary.  Also, as an extra tip, I'd recommend not giving the same amount of time to your three essays - language analysis is generally accepted to be shorter, so ideally you'll spend only 50 or 55 minutes on it to allow for extra time with the other two.

Fourthly, this isn't really a query or even common, but I feel the need to vent.  Whilst you should take advantage of what is available on this forum, don't abuse it.  Exercise some independence in your studies - don't become clingy and annoying and entirely reliant on VCENotes.  I say this because I've had a few pms asking me specifically to mark work: whilst this is fine and dandy, don't abuse the kindness of others (ie. don't spam inboxes with requests...), but more importantly, be polite.  Personally, I for one am much more inclined to mark work from somebody who asks nicely, over somebody who is all "OMG MARK ME ESSAY PL0X". 

Finally, in regards to study guides and tutors, go for them by all means.  I would also highly recommend lynt.br, Shinny, costargh and Nick's guides, which are also stickied - all tfour are well written and contain pretty much everything you need to grapple with the course. 

Conclusion: 2000 Words Later

Remember, the VCE English Exam is not a monster.  It will not bite your head off.  You can conquer it through hard work, determination, and perhaps a bit of luck.  But also remember that it isn't really an indication of "real" English ability (well, I guess it sort of is), and that it's not the end of the world if you don't get an amazing score in it. 

Good luck.

"When we are born, we cry that we are come to this great stage of fools." - King Lear, Act IV, Scene vi


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Re: English Guides, Tips and Resources
« Reply #42 on: December 19, 2010, 12:33:51 am »
Original thread here


The 5 C’s of text responses

•   Have you precisely shown the key concept or value, which is the heart of the topic, and clarified how it applies within the text?
•   Is this concept continuously explored?

•   Is your contention outlined and fully explained initially, so that the full dimensions of the topic will be resolved?
•   Does your contention incorporate the central concept or value?

•   Can you fully justify your contention on the basis of your textual analysis, through specific references and succinct quotations?
•   Can you step back sufficiently from the minute details of the text o explore is wider significance in light of he central values, characters, concepts, notions and plot details?

•   Is your argument developed logically?
•   Are your points sequenced in a clear and connected manner so that your argument is consistently building and reinforcing?

•   Is your expression sharply focused, formal, controlled, adult and appropriate?
•   Is your sentence structure, paraphrasing and ideas accurate and controlled?

Regardless of whether you are sitting the November examination or an English SAC task, the criteria for text responses will always revolve around the following criteria.
Relevance to the topic
Close and specific knowledge of text
Appropriateness of expression

Below is a list of tips which refer specifically to each element of the criteria. Following this criterion is imperative if you are planning to rise to the standard of a 40+ student.

Relevance to the topic
•   Your teachers and assessors need to be convinced that you have responded directly to the chosen topic and have not simply decided to present a memorised essay or simply write around the topic.
•   Even if you write an essay in a SAC or exam which shows a strong level of textual knowledge but ignores the topic, it will be given a low score.
•   Remember that you are required to write in an argumentative manner in response to the topic. When examining the topic view it as a line of argument about the text, which you need to challenge based on your knowledge of the text.
•   You need to present your own views about a set topic or perception of the text, in a way which qualifies the topic statement.
•   You need to challenge the topic in your mind, asking yourself to what extent you agree or disagree with this stance about the text.
•   Then, explore and examine the situations for which this topic is, in your view, an accurate one for the text, and when it ought to be qualified (that is, limited or reframed)
•   The best answers will perceive individual and distinctive implications to the topic, thereby revealing a depth and sophistication in the understanding of the ideas presented.
•   Never regurgitate the plot of the text. You must be selective in the details of the text that you present to your audience and show that you possess an in-depth knowledge of the chosen text.
•   Resist the temptation to “tell everything about the text that you know”.
•   There is no excuse for forgetting the names of characters or the key details in the text. You need to therefore re-read your texts before SACs and before the November examination.
•   Aim to memorise about 10-15 brief quotations for each of your texts for SACs and the exam. Integrate them within the body of the sentence, preferably using succinct quoted phrases.

•   You must show a close and detailed knowledge of the text in question. This means that you will have studied all of the elements that make up the text before attempting to write your text response. In other words, when you revise the text and your class notes, identify the key textual elements within them: plot development, characterization, relationships, major crisis points, catalysts for change, distinctive structural elements, stylistic elements, symbols, themes and issues.
•   You cannot rely alone upon commercial guides to texts. It is your own understanding that must be shown to achieve an A+ grade on a SAC or examination.

•   Since this subject obviously is English, the calibre and appropriateness of your expression is a matter of importance. English teachers and assessors do realize that you are writing under pressure, and in a finite amount of time.  Nevertheless, they are obliged to take into account the quality and clarity of the written language you employ.
•   Allow time to proof read- English teachers and assessors would much rather see crossing out which shows that you have checked the accuracy of your writing than be confronted with a host of silly, avoidable syntax (word order) or spelling errors.

If you are able to follow this criterion in an effective and efficient manner, your writing will possess all the required characteristics of a high scoring response.

For those who have forgotten or are still unsure on the structure of a text response, here is a basic rundown of the key considerations.

Your opening paragraph should be purposeful and direct. You should aim to use sophisticated language and expression, but ensure that you are not overly verbose in the way that you convey your ideas. Express your ideas directly and succinctly, but don’t hesitate to throw in some linguistic flair to show off your abilities.
Ensure that you:
o   Immediately tackle the topic
o   Demonstrate that you understand the proposition or question
o   Respond to all parts of the topic
o   Relate the topic closely to the text in your introduction
o   Provide your own contention in an articulate and well-reasoned fashion
o   Set up a line of argument so that the reader can see where the essay is heading. Ensure that this element of the introduction is clear and logical.
o   Provide a link to the next paragraph

Use several paragraphs to develop your line of argument, with careful selection of textual evidence. Use TEEL for each paragraph to keep your answer relevant and ensure the logical development of your ideas. 3-4 abundantly developed paragraphs are more than sufficient.

Ensure that each paragraph is heavily constituted by direct textual evidence, and ideas which are logical, clear and articulately expressed. Be constantly making mature and well reasoned analytical statements to back up your evidence. If you can’t justify what you are contending with direct textual evidence, don’t bother including it in your response.

T= Topic sentence- the next point in your argument, around which the rest of the paragraph is built
E= Explanation of the way in which your points address the topic
E= Evidence from the text to support your views, including pertinent quotes
L= Links between what you are contending in this paragraph and your overall argument, and between this paragraph and the next.

When writing the conclusion to your essay ensure that you:
o   Restate the contention and your line of argument
o   Briefly refer to the key pieces of evidence from the text that you have used t support your argument
o   Neatly tie the various lines of argument and evidence together, showing that they resolve your contention.
o   Provide a sense of closure to your argument


Outlines the nature of the issue/controversy
Identifies the central stakeholders (who has a direct interest in the issue)
The stance taken in the pieces for analysis
How the reader/listener is being positioned (this can be included later but it is good to include it in the intro)
Broad identification of the tonality

BODY (how the language intentionally operates on the reader)
Either analyse each article separately or conjointly, there is no preferable way to approach this, provided that you clearly structure your analysis. I prefer to analyse each piece separately (2 paragraphs for each piece or one large paragraph for each)
Acknowledge how the form of the piece operates
Identify specific elements of language use upon which to comment: specific appeals made; argumentative manipulation such as rhetorical questions and generalizations; the language used and its tonality, including any humour or cynicism.
Analyse the intended effect on the reader
Ensure that there is a neat link between analyses, if undertaken separately 

Recap the key forms of influential language
You may wish to briefly compare the relative impact of each piece on the intended audience.

When approaching “Analysis of Language use” (Part C of the exam) or the issues section of Unit 3, it would be advisable to keep in mind “TAPE”

Hear the article for analysis in your head
What tonality is most readily apparent?
Which words/phrases most embody this aspect?
How significant is this in potentially persuading us?

To whom is the text directed?
What position would these people tend to hold? Are they stakeholders with vested interest?
How is the author seeking to connect with them?
How inclusive is this approach?

Is this seeking to change, challenge or reinforce existing views and opinions?

How do we react to the language and emotive effects being utilized?
What persuades us most and how?

Suggests               Reflects                             
Indicates               Shows
Implies                 Provokes
Inspires                Asserts
Reveals                Aims

Creates a sense of
Is intended to
Makes the reader feel
Is designed to
Leads the reader to believe
Impugns the motives
Alerts the reader
Inclusively addresses us
Engages us emotively
Appeals to our self interest
Positions the reader to feel

















open minded




straight forward

matter of fact






These words are grouped according to similarity of meaning.

A majority of these tone words came from "The English Book 2007" which is worth purchasing from the bookshops.

Good luck everyone. I hope this advice thread has been of valuable assistance.  :) Happy writing in 2008.


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Re: English Guides, Tips and Resources
« Reply #43 on: December 19, 2010, 12:37:44 am »
Original thread here

Hey guys, I thought it would be a good idea to start compiling resources for various current media issues in one thread, for 2011.

To kickstart:

Asylum Seekers/Refugees


Gay rights

Climate Change & Environmental Issues

« Last Edit: December 19, 2010, 01:59:53 am by lynt.br »


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Re: English Guides, Tips and Resources
« Reply #44 on: December 19, 2010, 12:38:00 am »
Reserved for future guides.