English & EAL

New VCE English Syllabus 2016-2020

Lisa Tran

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

The new VCE English syllabus has kicked off its first year in 2016 with current Year 11s as the first cohort. The current (and older) VCE English study design is being phased out with 2016 Year 12 students being its last group. Now, I know a lot of us are still grappling to understand the changes, and who knows? You might look like this:


...an array of bewilderedness, surprise, and perhaps even...excitement? Don't worry, we're all in the same boat. The new English syllabus IS exciting, especially once we're familiar with all the changes. So, have a peek at the infographic below to get a good overview of what we're saying 'hello' and 'farewell' to (you can download the infographic below)!

The following breakdown focuses on Units 3 and 4 of the new English syllabus.

Area of study 1:
Reading and Creating

Students study: 2 selected texts from Text List 1 (see the 2017 VCE English Text List here).

Purpose: To write an expository essay on one text, and then a creative response on the second selected text for Area of Study 1. What this means is that you will study both books in detail, looking at themes, characters, literary devices, author's intention and more. Know that the study of these two texts do not overlap at any point - you study them separately for two separate SACs (see below!).

Meanwhile in the creative response, you are expected to recreate the text with your own imagination. From re-writing an epilogue to creating a new scene with a minor character, the purpose of this section is to show off your unique insight of the text. When writing, you will need to think about the structure and language you have used, and why how these choices were important in adding meaning to your creation.

Side note: The 'Writing in Context' component from the old syllabus has been semi-integrated into 'Reading and Creating'. This is the only part of the new course where you have the opportunity to experiment with your creative writing skills. Keep in mind that there will not be a creative component in your VCE English 3/4 exam!

SAC 1: Write an analytical essay for Text 1 (~800-1000 words).

SAC 2: Write a creative response + a written explanation (~800-1000 words or, if in the form of an oral presentation ~4-6 minutes).

Reading and Comparing

Students study: 1 pair of texts from Text List 2 (see the 2017 VCE English Text List here).

Purpose: To compare and contrast the ideas, issues and themes of two selected texts. The aim of this section is to get students to start thinking outside of the box (or, just one text), and look at bigger picture. Teachers and examiners are after discussions that involve the human condition - relationships, experiences and challenges in particular contexts (for example, social, political, or historical context). It is important to avoid simplistic comparisons between two texts. For example, in 1984 and Stasiland, it's not enough to just discuss the fact that these people live in a totalitarian regime. We start delving into the psychological impacts on people who live in an oppressive state, what it means to suffer at the hands of constant surveillance, and what the authors' endorse or condone in such tyrannical societies.

SAC: A detailed comparative response to set texts, focusing on ideas, issues and themes (~900-1200 words).

Area of study 2:

Analysing argument

Purpose: The ultimate goal is to demonstrate your understanding of how the author attempts to persuade the reader to agree with his or her contention. Here you analyse a variety of different forms of publication, from opinion articles, editorials, speeches to cartoons and diagrams. See 'How the author intends to persuade their readers' here.

SAC: An analysis and comparison, in written form, of argument and the use of persuasive language in two to three texts (written or visual) that present a point of view on an issue (~800-1000 words).

Presenting argument

Purpose: In the last part of Area of Study 2, students must prepare an oral presentation based on a topic debated in the media. It has to have appeared recently, which means it can only be a topic that has appeared in the media since September the previous year. This section pushes you to research and form a stance on the issue, where you will then write your own persuasive speech using the skills you have gained from studying 'Analysing Argument'. On top of that, you will need to focus on your delivery of the speech, which includes things like tone, pace, eye-contact, and much more! If you're curious to learn more, have a look through some of our posts on Oral Presentation ideas for inspiration!

SAC: A sustained oral piece (~4-6 minutes) that presents a point of view relating to an issue currently in the media + a written explanation (~300-500 words) explaining your decisions made in the planning process, and how these demonstrate understanding of argument and persuasive language.

via GIPHY Hopefully now, you're less confused and feeling a little more upbeat, just like the bear. This is the first in a series of blog posts dedicated to the new syllabus (future topics will cover each of the Area of Studies in more detail). 

By the way, our Essentials Study Guide due for Jan 2017 is available for Pre-order now! Click here to download our FREE sample chapter on Reading and Comparing! 

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