Often, beginning a Language Analysis essay can be tough. How do you start? Do you even need to write an introduction? There are many answers to these questions- some say that because an introduction is not explicitly worth any marks, you don’t need to bother. However, an introduction can be a great way to organise your thoughts and make sure you set up your analysis properly…as long as you don’t waste a lot of time writing unnecessary sentences. For a detailed guide on Language Analysis, including how to prepare for your SAC and exam, check out our Ultimate Guide to VCE Language Analysis.
You can use a simple, easy to remember formula that will help you to identify the key aspects of the piece very early on, and this will show your examiner that you know exactly what you’re talking about- all you have to do is to remember the acronym "CDFASTCAT”.
Here is a breakdown of each aspect and its importance:
This gives the audience some background information on the issue, and “sets the scene” for the article or text. In ANY language analysis article/piece you come across (whether it be in the exam or in practice), there is always a box with the context of the article explained. ALWAYS read it and let it influence your analysis. If you exemplify consideration of the information provided to you in your analysis, you will show a deeper understanding of the issue, and your analysis will be more accurate and detailed. Aim to demonstrate that you understand why the article was written, and its surrounding circumstances.
This gives the article a wider context, and helps the audience understand why the author may have a certain viewpoint. It is also good practice to properly reference the article in your analysis, which includes the date, author, source and title.
The form of a Language Analysis text can vary, from newspaper articles, blogs, comics or even speeches. Each form has its own set of conventions which can help you identify language techniques, and can change the way the message is communicated to the audience. For example, in a speech, the speaker is more likely to directly address their audience than the editor of a newspaper may in an editorial.
When writing a Language Analysis essay (or any essay for that matter), always refer to the author by either their full name, their surname only, or a title and a surname - NEVER by their first name alone. For example: 'Lyle Shelton', 'Mr. Lyle Shelton', 'Mr. Shelton' and 'Shelton' are all okay to use in your essay. However, you would never use 'Lyle' on its own.
The source of a text can influence your understanding of the audience. For example, an article written on a blog about gardening is likely to have a different audience to a financial journal. Including the source is also an important so that the article is properly referenced.
Including the title in the introduction is critical to properly introducing the article. Remember to analyse major techniques in the title if there are any during the body of your essay!
Identifying the author’s contention can be the most difficult aspect of Language Analysis for many students. The trick is to ask yourself the question 'What is the author’s argument?' If you want to break it down even further, try asking 'What does the author want to change/why/what is it like now/what do they want it to be?'
Depending on the audience, different techniques and appeals may work in different ways. For example, an appeal to the hip-pocket nerve is more likely to have an effect on single parents who are struggling financially than it is on young children or very wealthy people.
You should not include a tone word in your introduction as the author’s tone will shift throughout the text. However, identifying the tone early on is important so that you can later acknowledge any tonal shifts.
Often, articles will include some sort of graphic; it is important that you acknowledge this in your introduction and give a brief description of the image - enough so your analysis can be read and understood on its own. The description of the image is the equivalent of an embedded quote from an article; both are used to provide evidence to support your analysis.
10 Things to Look for in Cartoons is a great resource to help you learn what to look for in graphics. Don't be put-off by the name; you don't need to be studying cartoons specifically in order to learn heaps from this blog post.
If you follow the CDFASTCAT approach, your Language Analysis introductions will become easy to write, straight to the point and full of all the most important information - good luck! ☺