English Language

Holiday Checklist for 2016 - How to Prepare Yourself for Success!

Lisa Tran

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Go ahead and tilt your mobile the right way (portrait). The kool kids don't use landscape...

For those entering VCE English Langauge 3/4 in 2016, I'd like to give you a quick rundown of what to do these holidays in preparation for next year. The holidays present the perfect time to not only give your body a much needed break but to also prepare yourself for the following year.

This time last year actually I had published a similar post to those who finished this year. You can read that here as much of that content is still relevant.

I was inspired to rewrite this post again as a new student of mine had told me that he had no issues studying for all of his other subjects (Methods, Chemistry, Physics etc), yet struggled to study for English Language. He actually had no idea how to approach VCE English Language these holidays. So that's what this post will be about today!


First and foremost, you must complete all of the prescribed homework from your school. There is a reason teachers give this to you to complete over the holidays - it will allow you to form a foundation for next year. Make sure you complete this meticulously and over time - do not rush it as this will not benefit you at all. Once this is done, then move onto the list below.


You can find the complete metalanguage list here on the VCAA site. Go to pages 17-18 to find the complete list.

Your task over the holidays will be to go through this list and define ALL of these terms. This is very important for next year as metalanguage underpins everything you do in VCE English Language including all sections of the exams and all SACs. I have an online course, which conveniently has all the definitions for the metalanguage list (updated for 2016). You can find that here.


Part of being successful in the essay section (Section C) is knowing how to weave in both modern media examples and linguist quotes. What I mean by this is supporting real world examples of language use WITH linguist quotes to prove your claims. Often what you study in English Language will be occurring out in the real world, and assessors LOVE to see this as it shows you're linguistically aware of the world around you!

Take a look at my post on recent media examples for 2015 here. This is what I mean - don't be daunted by it; it's a skill that will take time to develop.

Get your list started early; many students mistakenly leave it until the last minute before exams and this will just cause you stress.


Firstly, I’d advise reading Kirsten Fox’s English Language Exam Guide (otherwise known as ‘The Green Book’), and in doing so I’d recommend you study the sample responses they provide to you for section A, B and C. To refresh if you don’t know, section A is short answer, section B is the analytical commentary and section C is the essay.

When observing and analysing the sample responses in the green book, look at:

  • The key metalinguistic terms used often
  • The structure of the content (note: a structure is always followed every time)
  • Any noticeable examples or quotations (highlight these!)
  • The sentence structures and the lexical choice (i.e. how the sentences flow on from each other)

Remember this: EXPOSURE = SUCCESS

By exposing yourself to A+ responses, you will begin to subconsciously replicate the structuring and expression in your own pieces. You could even ask your teacher for some A+ responses from past students at your school (if they're happy to obviously!).


I guess I should've put this at the start, but it goes without saying that you should familarise yourself with what you're going to be learning. The study design has a wealth of knowledge that will allow you to fundamentally understand they key concepts of this course. When going through it, highlight key terms you may not understand and put this onto a list. Your task then will be to look up and define each of these terms.


Your first assessment will be for Unit 3 AOS 1 at school. Now, the way your school assesses this will vary from school to school. Some assess this AOS (area of study) in the form of an essay, or an analytical commentary, or even short answer. Some even conduct orals (unlikely). Whatever it is, it would be worthwhile (in my opinion) to go through a spoken transcript and written piece (both informal) and analyse all of the linguistic features. You can find sample informal spoken and written pieces in all past English Language exams, which can be found here.

You may struggle with this at first, but just go through any piece that is informal and ask yourself the question - "if I was this author/speaker, why would I write/speak like this?". Be inquisitive as this skill will allow you to excel in English Language. Upon reflection, I was incredibly inquisitive in Year 12 and so I often did a lot of my own outside research and pondered many unanswered questions myself, which propelled me to do a ton of online research.

I hope this helps any student out there! :)

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