Language Analysis for all – get it right

Language Analysis for all – get it
right from Year 8 and understand
what the Assessors want in Year 12
Background – VCE – its intentions
• VCE English is the culmination of a
rounded English course. It is not
an add on and all the skills we
teach students in English that are
essential for living as independent,
responsible global citizens are
essential in VCE English.
• To succeed in VCE English students must be able to:
– Read fluently and be able to draw independent and sophisticated
conclusions from a range of types of text that they read
– Speak confidently and fluently for a range of purposes in a range of
situations, demonstrating evidence of insight and thoughtful
awareness about the issue or topic they are addressing
– Write in a huge range of forms, for different purposes and
audiences in a manner that clearly expresses complex thinking
– Analyse verbally and in writing how texts create their meanings whether these be literary or media texts showing an understanding
of the historical and cultural context of these texts
Language Analysis
Here's some of the things that this section of the course is NOT:
It's not an exercise in picking out techniques and listing them
It's not an exercise in explaining how certain persuasive techniques work
If you want to learn lists of techniques go ahead, knock yourself out, but be warned it could trap you into the
behaviour listed above and ensure you cannot get anything above the equivalent of a D.
This is what this section IS about.
It's about showing that you understand HOW a writer is trying to get you to agree with his or her point of view
(contention) on a particular issue. You may wish to embed into your discussion certain terms such as
generalisation, bias or emotive language to assist with the cogency of your writing, but only to assist in describing
PRECISELY what is happening to this PARTICULAR language as it is used by the writer to sway readers to agree with
this PARTICULAR and PRECISE contention. At all times you MUST be writing about how this particular article works
to persuade the reader. Your discussion is useless if it is too general. Examples below - particularly A Closer Look at
the Homework will help.
Taken from – on which you can find a LOT of resources on language analysis page
See also Year 12 page of
What the Examiners Say about
Language Analysis
• There were few examples of simplistic labelling,
and it was clear that students understood of the
nature of the task.
• Assessors noted a discernible improvement from
previous years, especially in regard to moving
away from describing techniques. However, some
students would still benefit from support to
master the skills of exploring language use and its
intended impact on the audience, rather than
listing and describing.
Example of low scoring student
• Mrs Elliot uses a range of persuasive techniques like
Rhetorical questions. . A rhetorical question implies an
answer however does not give one. The tone of the
question usually positions the reader to accept the
implied answer. It is used when wanting to leave the
reader engaged but hanging.
• she uses the hip pocket nerve when she is talking about
school book updates which will students and parents.
The language for the piece is very inclusive and
imaginative. The inclusive language makes the reader
feel included so they will agree with the writer that
reading is important.
What we don’t want
• Showing B for C confident kid answers question. Music
playing what a wonderful world – slides about agression.
Teacher asks “What point is made here and how is the film
maker achieving this?”
• Student answers “The writer uses experts, evidence and
statistics and that’s very convincing to the reader”– not
analysing, not thinking • We want the student to talk specifically about those
pictures – all these examples showed US trying to
manipulate policy abroad – so if they didn’t like a leader
they could fund the opposition or have them deposed. The
montage culminated with twin towers to justify US attacks
abroad – juxtaposition of music with ugly images
Example of high scoring student
The growing prevalence of e-books in today’s society has been met with both admiration but also
concern. During her presentation at the forum on reading and literacy-related activities (‘Reading:
the future’), Mrs Elliot attempts to sway the audience into making sure the positive elements of
hard copy books are not forgotten and a world where only e-books thrive does not eventuate. In her
speech, Mrs Elliot uses her prior position of expertise (retired librarian) in an incredibly personal and
direct approach to persuade her audience of teachers, librarians and senior school students to
convey to her style of thinking.
The outset is dominated by Mrs Elliot positioning her audience to indeed trust her. Her relation to
the audience; ‘fellow book-lovers’ is used in an attempt to manipulate the audience to engage and
listen to what she has to say. The structure of her speech very much depends on this relation being
made as the rest of the presentation encapsulates Mrs Elliot’s experiences and personal opinions.
The sentiment that Mrs Elliot ‘like[s] change’ is done with the intended purpose of making the
audience feel Mrs Elliot is not stuck in the past. The words ‘I thought’ and ‘had to be a good thing’
enable Mrs Elliot to discuss the positives of e-books (to display a more rounded argument) whilst at
the same time, displaying a hint that there is more to it. Her first slide which accompanied her
speech relates to the positive elements of e-books. The photograph of a young boy smiling at the
usage of his e-book whilst a mountain of books lay stacked behind him echo the image of ‘children
setting off without the terrible burden of their great big textbook’. The small backpack compared
with the mountain of books acts to attempt to persuade the audience about the improvements that
have been made, a weight has been lifted, both metaphorically and literally. After the visual has
displayed the positive elements of e-books, Mrs Elliot again forbodes her underlying intention;
‘some things about them are great’. The quantifier ‘some’ perhaps suggests to the audience that
although elements are positive, there are also elements that are negative.
How to build the skills for Language
Teach students the techniques of persuasive langauge in association with their
persuasive writing (NAPLAN prep 7 and 9; 8 – Newspaper unit) then Ask them to
explain how their writing was persuasive – How did they persuade their audience to
agree with their point of view – orally and in writing depending on skills of students
Look at accessibl and interesting multi modal texts and explore how they are
persuasive e.g. documentaries and reality TV and news websites (Year 10, Year 9,
Year 8). Always stressing the importance of specific and precise analysis of the effects
of precise words and phrases
DO NOT teaching lists of persuasive techniques when students are writing an analysis
DO NOT teach students to structure a language analysis by beginning paragraphs with
a definition of a language technique
Language Analysis should not be structured around techniques – this naturally
encourages students to list.
Teach Skepsi classes Year 12 analysis skills
• Harvard Project Zero – Visible Thinking
• Independent Reading page on
• Past exams and exam reports

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