Oral presentation topics for 2014

Welcome to 2014! As many of you will already be in your second or third week of schooling, it’s likely that you’re getting plenty of workload from across your subjects. Some of you may very well be preparing for your oral presentation SAC that’s coming up very soon! If that is the case, I’ve collated a list of some popular topics that have cropped up in the Australian media since September last year. The list is intended to help you brainstorm different issues you may wish to debate in your speech, with the contention left for you to decide once you have researched enough on the topic! Check it out below:

  1. Treatment of asylum seekers 
  2. Processing of asylum seekers
  3. ‘One punch law’
  4. Street violence
  5. Should mathematics be compulsory in schools?
  6. Shark culling in South Australia
  7. The end of car manufacturing in Australia
  8. Sex education and homosexuality
  9. Work-for-the-dole scheme
  10. Needle vending machines
  11. East-West tunnel
  12. Cory Bernadi’s book – The Conservative Revolution (Abortion)
  13. Should we smack our children?
  14. The Indigenous employment gap
  15. Tecoma McDonalds
  16. Sexism in the media
  17. Animal cruelty
  18. Treatment of fare evaders
  19. Wearing the hijab in schools
  20. Carbon tax
  21. Childcare wages
  22. Should the government fund private schools?
  23. See Oral Presentation Issues in 2013 for other ongoing issues

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This blog was written by Lisa Tran, the creator and writer for VCE Study Guides. She is currently accepting bookings for permanent VCE Year 12 English tutoring for 2014. If you are interested, please feel free to contact her at lisa.tran@live.com.au !!!

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Why your Language Analysis doesn’t score as well as it should

For many people Language Analysis is their downfall. Here is the main reason why. Many students don't think about how language is used to persuade, instead they rely on lists of language techniques to tell them the answer. These sheets are usually distributed by teachers when you first start language analysis – click the link below to see an example. 

Persuasive Techniques from Insight Outcomes (34498)

Whether or not you've seen that particular document before, you've probably got something similar. You've also probably thought, 'this sheet is absolutely amazing – it has everything I need and it tells me how language persuades!' – I know I did. Unfortunately, this mindset is wrong. Don't fall into the trap like so many other students have over the years.

The following comes from VCAA 2009 English Assessment Report: '…some students presented a simple summary [when analysing]…with little development. These responses did not score well as they did not fulfil the task as required.'

The 'simple summary' refers to students who rely on those technique sheets to paraphrase the explanations regarding how language persuades. There is 'little development' because copying the explanations provided on these sheets doesn't demonstrate enough insight into the article you're analysing. Let's have a look at the VCAA English Practice Exam published in 2009, 'Chickens Range Free' so that we can demonstrate this point. We will look at two students, both analysing the same technique. Compare the two and determine who you believe provides the better analysis.

Student 1: Emotive language such as "abominably cruel" and "dire plight" is intended to stimulate strong emotional reactions that manipulate readers' responses.

Student 2: The use of emotive language such as "abominably cruel" and "dire plight" intends to appeal to people's instinctive compassion for the chickens by describing their dreadful treatment, hence causing readers to agree with Smith that urgent action is required to save these animals.

It should be clear that Student 2's example is best. Let's see why.

Student 1 has determined the correct language technique and found suitable evidence from the article. This is a good start. However, Student 1 goes on to merely reiterate the explanations provided by language technique sheets and as a result, their analysis is too broad and non-specific to the article.

Student 2 conversely, understands that this last step – the analysing part – is the most important and vital component that will distinguish themselves from others. Instead of merely quoting that the article 'manipulates the reader response' like student 1, they provide an in-depth analysis of how and why reader feelings are manipulated because of this technique. Student 2 was able to use the information to illustrate the author's contention that we should feel sorry for these caged chickens – and we do because of our 'instinctive compassion.' They explain that the sympathy expressed from readers encourages them to agree that some action needs to be taken to help the chickens. As you can see, Student 2 has gone beyond identifying that 'strong emotional reactions' will be displayed by readers, to establishing what emotions are involved, and the consequences of those emotions.

This is why it's best to avoid paraphrasing language technique sheets. By all means, don't totally disregard them altogether. They're definitely great for learning new language techniques – just be mindful of the explanations given. The part regarding how the author persuades is the downfall of many students because even though teachers tell you to analyse more, they often don't show you the difference between what you're doing wrong and what you should be doing right.

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Share your ideas in the comment section below! Have you been tricked into relying solely on language technique sheets?

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How to prepare for a SAC – Part 3 – Language Analysis

This is part 3 of the 'How To Prepare For a SAC' trilogy – if you haven't read the others click here. Quick note: I've written part III before part II – context because I know that most schools have language analysis SACs early on in the year, and since i'll be blogging monthly, I figure that this is the most appropriate way to help the maximum amount of people. Here are the tips I have for preparing Language Analysis:

  • Again, write essays. It is the best approach in utlising your knowledge, applying your analytical skills and developing your writing.
  • Know your terminology. Make sure you brush up on the definitions of persuasive techniques. It's not going to be a tick if you used metaphor instead of simile (I will be blogging about this in the near future because it's a confused area for many students) or if you use alliteration instead of assonance. These mistakes do happen! Don't fall trap to them.
  • Practice analysing. This goes without saying. If you don't plan on writing essays, then make sure you at least grab some articles and start analysing. You should have a collection of articles from your teacher and if not, try recent newspapers.
  • Learn tones. It may be easy to identify the writer is 'angry' but is there a better way of expressing that? Perhaps 'irritated' is a better term or 'vexed', 'passionate', 'furious', 'disgruntled', 'outraged, 'irate' and the list goes on….Stuck? Have a look at our 195 Tones for Language Analysis.
  • Be strategic. Analysing can get messy since you will have annotations sprawed across the article. Try using colour-idea coordination to simplify and clarify. For example, if the article discusses injustice – for all techniques you identify dealing with injustice, highlight it yellow. For freedom, highlight green. This will have you annotating and grouping ideas in one go, saving time and confusion. Another approach is to use colour-technique coordination, where you group same or similar techniques in the one colour.

Stay tuned for part II! Subscribe to us in the right sidebar to receive updates of blogs and other VCE Study Guides news.

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Please share how you prepare for a SAC in the comments section and leave your feedback below!

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