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  Year 12 English Language Course  
     
  Units 3 & 4 Course Overview  
     
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Metalanguage for Units 3 and 4

Each of the English Language units requires students to understand linguistic concepts and use metalanguage appropriately to describe and analyse language in an objective and a systematic way. Metalanguage underpins the key knowledge and key skills and provides students with the means to discuss elements of linguistic study. The subsystems of language are the essential organising tools with which students become familiar. Students use metalanguage associated with the following five subsystems in Units 3 and 4:

Phonetics and Phonology

  • prosodic features: pitch, stress, volume, tempo and intonation
  • vocal effects: coughs, laughter, breath
  • sounds in connected speech and connected speech processes: assimilation, vowel reduction, elision, insertion
  • features of Broad, General and Cultivated accents in Australian English
  • phonological patterning in texts: alliteration, assonance, consonance, onomatopoeia, rhythm, rhyme
  • an awareness of the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) and the phonetic transcription of English.

Morphology and Lexicology

  • word classes: nouns, verbs, auxiliary verbs, modal verbs, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, pronouns, conjunctions, determiners, interjections
  • function words and content words
  • affixation: prefix, suffix, infix
  • inflection and derivation
  • root, bound and free morphemes
  • suffixation in Australian English
  • word formation processes: blends, acronyms, initialisms, shortenings, compounding, contractions, collocations, neologisms
  • morphological and lexical patterning in texts.

Syntax

  • phrases, clauses and sentences
  • sentence types and their communicative function in texts: declarative, imperative, interrogative, exclamative
  • the basic functions in clause structure: subject, object, complement, adverbial
  • sentence structures: sentence fragments; simple, compound, complex and compound-complex sentences; ellipsis; nominalisation; and coordination and subordination
  • active and passive voice, including agentless passives
  • syntactic patterning in texts: antithesis, listing, parallelism.

Discourse

  • factors that contribute to a text's coherence: cohesion, inference, logical ordering, formatting, consistency and conventions
  • factors that contribute to a text's cohesion: information flow including clefting, front focus and end focus; anaphoric and cataphoric reference; deictics; repetition; synonymy, antonymy and hyponymy; collocation; ellipses; substitution; conjunctions and adverbials
  • features of spoken discourse: pauses, false starts, repetition, repairs, openings and closings, adjacency pairs, overlapping speech, interrogative tags, and discourse particles
  • strategies in spoken discourse: topic management, turn-taking, holding the floor, minimal responses
  • conventions for the transcription of spoken English.

Semantics

  • semantic fields
  • lexical choice and semantic patterning in texts: irony, metaphor, oxymoron, simile, personification, animation, puns, lexical ambiguity
  • lexical meaning, especially sense relations: synonymy, antonymy, hyponymy, idiom, denotation and connotation
  • euphemism and dysphemism.
UNIT 3: Informal Language

In this area of study students consider the way speakers and writers choose from a vast repertoire of language in order to vary the style of their language to suit a particular social purpose. They consider the features and functions of informal language in written, spoken and electronic interactions, understanding that the situational and cultural context of an exchange determines the language used.

Students examine the features that distinguish informal language from more formal language. They understand that informal language often lacks the carefully planned and elaborate structure of formal texts and is more likely to play an important role in building rapport. They understand that users of informal language may be idiosyncratic in their linguistic choices and structure texts in a non-linear way, and they explore the role of colloquialisms and non-Standard English in establishing informal registers. Students examine texts including conversations, narratives, monologues, interviews and unscripted commentaries, in which speakers use informal language. They also consider informal texts produced by writers, including narratives, advertisements, journals, notes, and electronic or other written interactions involving one or more participants. Students consider features of 'chat' associated with both speaking and writing, such as a reliance on sequencing, cooperation and turn-taking, as well as features that are particular to each mode. Students learn that speakers have at their disposal a support system of prosodic and paralinguistic cues that they can use to organise and present information. They explore how writers may choose to rely on abbreviations, spellings which reflect pronunciation and prosodic patterns, emoticons and context-specific graphemes. Both written and spoken informal texts may contain non-fluency features, ellipses, shortened lexical forms and syntactic complexity.

Students investigate how informal language can be used to meet participants' positive face needs - the need to be liked, respected and treated as a member of a group; how informal language choices can build rapport by encouraging inclusiveness, intimacy, solidarity and equality; and how informal language features such as slang and swearing patterns are particularly important in encouraging linguistic innovation and in-group membership.

Key Knowledge
  • the role of Standard and non-Standard English in creating formal and informal texts

  • differences in the nature and functions of formal and informal texts

  • the relationship between the context and the features of language in informal texts

  • stylistic features in informal speech and writing, including phonological patterning, syntactic patterning, morphological

    patterning, and lexical choice and semantic patterning

  • major discourse strategies used by speakers and the ways in which cooperation is achieved

  • the use of informal language in
    — encouraging intimacy, solidarity and equality
    — maintaining positive face needs
    — promoting linguistic innovation
    — supporting in-group membership

  • conventions for the transcription of spoken English texts

  • metalanguage to discuss informal language in texts.

Key Skills
  • define key linguistic concepts as they relate to informal language in texts

  • use key concepts and metalanguage appropriately to describe and analyse spoken and written language use in an objective and a systematic way

  • analyse the effects of context on language choices

  • analyse the nature, features and functions of informal written texts and transcripts of informal spoken English.

Outcome 1

On completion of this unit the student should be able to identify and analyse distinctive features of
informal language in written and spoken texts.

Coursework (S or N for Unit 3)
Completion of all coursework tasks is essential to meeting the Outcome achievement.

SAC (50 marks)
A written analysis of distinctive features of informal language in written and spoken texts.

UNIT 3: Formal Language
In this area of study students consider the way speakers and writers choose from a repertoire of language in order to achieve a particular purpose. As with informal language, the situational and cultural context determines whether people use formal language and in which mode they choose to communicate.

Students examine the features and functions of formal language, particularly in literature and the public domain. They understand that formal language, in all modes, tends to be less ambiguous, more cohesive, and is more likely to make explicit aspects of the presumed context. They examine formal texts, exploring how writers and speakers are more likely to consider how their audience might interpret their message, packaging it appropriately with attention to the art of rhetoric. Students learn that formal written texts are more likely to have been edited while formal spoken texts may have been rehearsed. They examine such formal written texts as legal documents, bureaucratic policy and procedures, official documents, informational prose and literature. They also examine formal language in spoken texts such as speeches, lectures, oaths, liturgies, performances and monologues. Formal speech has many of the organisational and stylistic features of written language, but also draws on paralinguistic features such as gesture and eye contact and prosodic cues such as pitch, stress and intonation.

Students investigate the range of ways formal language can be used to perform social functions. They investigate how formal language can be used to meet participants'negative face needs - the need to be autonomous and act without imposition from others. Formal language choices, particularly politeness strategies, can also reinforce social distance and relationship hierarchies, while varieties such as jargon can reinforce the user's authority and expertise as well as promoting in-group solidarity.

Students examine texts in which speakers and writers use formal language to celebrate and commemorate, and they explore how formal language can be used to clarify, manipulate or obfuscate, particularly in public language - the language of politics, media, the law and bureaucracy. Students learn that formal language enables users to carefully negotiate social taboos through the employment of euphemisms, non-discriminatory language, and political correctness. They explore how variations in style reveal much about the intentions and values of speakers or writers, as well as the situational and social contexts in which formal texts are created.

Key Knowledge
  • the nature and functions of formal and informal texts

  • the relationship between the context and the features of language in formal texts

  • the features and functions of formal writing and formal speech as represented in a range of texts from literature and the public domain

  • the role of discourse features and lexical choice in creating textual cohesion and coherence

  • stylistic features in formal speech and writing, including phonological patterning, syntactic patterning, morphological patterning, and lexical choice and semantic patterning

  • the use of formal language in
    — reinforcing social distance and authority
    — establishing expertise
    — promoting social harmony and negotiating social taboos
    — clarifying, manipulating or obfuscating

  • metalanguage to discuss formal language in texts.

Key Skills
  • define key linguistic concepts as they relate to formal language in texts

  • use key concepts and metalanguage appropriately to describe and analyse spoken and written language in an objective and a systematic way

  • analyse the effects of context on language choices

  • analyse the nature, features and functions of formal texts

  • evaluate features of language in the public domain.
Outcome 2

On completion of this unit the student should be able to identify and analyse distinctive features of
formal language in written and spoken texts.

Coursework (S or N for Unit 3)
Completion of all coursework tasks is essential to meeting the Outcome achievement.

SAC (50 marks)
A written analysis of distinctive features of informal language in written and spoken texts.

 

UNIT 4: Language Variation in Australian Society

This area of study enables students to understand the range of language varieties that exist in contemporary Australian society and the contributions these varieties make to a shared national identity. Australian English has much in common with Englishes from other continents, but the language has also developed features across all subsystems of language that distinguish it from other Englishes.

Students explore how the Broad, General and Cultivated Australian accents reflect the society from which they emerged and the forms that achieved social prestige over time. However, Australia is not linguistically uniform, and contemporary texts in both written and spoken modes both challenge and construct notions of what it means to be Australian and what might be meant by 'national identity'. Increasing global contact and other social changes are shaping contemporary Australian English, and attitudes towards Australian language continue to evolve.

Students learn that Standard Australian English, as the variety of Australian English afforded prestige by public institutions, has played a pivotal role in establishing the legitimacy of Australian English in comparison to other national varieties of English. They learn that the non-Standard varieties operating in Australia provide further dimensions to Australian English. They consider variation between regions, a range of migrant ethnolects, and Aboriginal Englishes, in addition to exploring how the language features associated with stereotypes may be adopted subconsciously, or deliberately employed to invoke or challenge identities.

Key Knowledge
  • the role of Standard and non-Standard English in Australian society

  • ways in which a variety of Australian identities can be reflected in a range of historical and contemporary texts

  • characteristics of Australian English in contrast to Englishes from other continents, in phonological, lexical, prosodic, and/or grammatical patterns

  • features of Broad, General and Cultivated Australian English accents

  • how Australian English varies according to geography, including national and regional variation

  • how and why Australian English varies according to culture, including Aboriginal English and ethnolects

  • attitudes within society to different varieties of English, including prescriptivism and descriptivism

  • the role of language in constructing national identity

  • metalanguage to discuss varieties of Australian English.

Key Skills
  • use key linguistic concepts and metalanguage appropriately to discuss language variation and identity in Australia in an objective and a systematic way

  • use key concepts and metalanguage appropriately to analyse attitudes to varieties of Australian English in an objective and a systematic way

  • investigate and analyse how Australian identity is constructed and reflected in a range of written and spoken texts.


Outcome 1

On completion of this unit the student should be able to investigate and analyse varieties of Australian English and attitudes towards them.

Coursework (S or N for Unit 3)
Completion of all coursework tasks is essential to meeting the Outcome achievement.

SAC (50 marks)
A written analysis of varieties of Australian English and attitudes towards them.

UNIT 4:Individual and Group Identities
In this area of study students focus on the role of language in reflecting and constructing individual and group identities. They learn that language users are able to play different roles within speech communities and to construct their identities through subconscious and conscious language variation according to age, gender, occupation, interests, aspiration and education. While individual identity can be derived from the character traits that make us unique, our social identities are drawn from membership of particular groups. Students investigate how, as individuals, we make language choices that draw on our understanding of social expectations and community attitudes.

Students develop understanding of overt and covert norms in speech communities. They consider how knowing and being able to exploit overt norms - which are typically associated with Standard English - allows users to construct a prestigious identity associated with their class, education, occupation, social status and aspiration. They also consider how covert norms - those that are given prestige by local groups and are typically associated with non-Standard English - can be just as powerful in constructing identities, establishing those who use them as members of the 'in' group, while those who are unable to conform are cast as outsiders. The language features associated with jargon and slang also provide a powerful basis for inclusion and exclusion.

Students learn how language can function as a social disadvantage for people in different language communities, and how social attitudes, personal associations and prejudices of individual speakers can lead to discrimination against use of non-standard dialects and accents.

Key Knowledge
  • social and personal variation in language according to factors such as age, gender, occupation, interests, aspiration and education

  • features of language that contribute to a sense of individual identity and group membership

  • representations of individual and group identities in a range of historical and contemporary texts

  • the ways in which the language of individuals and the language of groups is shaped by social expectations and community attitudes

  • the ways in which people draw on their linguistic repertoire to gain power and prestige, including exploiting overt and covert norms

  • the relationship between social attitudes and language choices

  • metalanguage to discuss representations of identity in texts.

Key Skills
  • use key linguistic concepts and metalanguage appropriately to discuss the relationship between language variation and identity for both individuals and groups in an objective and a systematic way

  • use key concepts and metalanguage appropriately to analyse attitudes to varieties of English in contemporary Australian society in an objective and a systematic way

  • explain and analyse how group and individual identities are constructed and reflected in a range of written and spoken texts.



Outcome 2

On completion of this unit the student should be able to analyse how people's choice of language reflects and constructs their identities.

Coursework (S or N for Unit 4)
Completion of all coursework tasks is essential to meeting the Outcome achievement.

SAC (50 marks)
A written analysis of how people's choice of language reflects and constructs their identities.

 

Examination
All outcomes in Units 3 and 4 will be examined in an extwernal exam in November. All of the key knowledge and skills that underpin the outcomes in Units 3 and 4 are examinable.

All students will be examined against the following criteria in the external examination:

1. Understanding of the range of distinctive characteristics of different varieties of English used in Australia.
2. Identification of differing attitudes within the community to varieties of Australian English.
3. Analysis of the role of language variation in the development of a sense of identity.
4. Analysis of how situational factors influence linguistic variation.
5. Identification of the range, nature and functions of different kinds of written and spoken English.
6. Analysis of key stylistic features and differences in the nature of written and spoken English.
7. Use of appropriate metalanguage to describe and analyse linguistic usage.
8. Ability to write responses that are clearly organised, using effective, accurate and fluent language.

The examination paper may include questions which refer to stimulus material such as newspaper articles, extracts from reports or case study material.

All questions are compulsory.

Students will complete the examination using a question and answer booklet.

The end-of-year examination will contribute 50 per cent to the Study Score.

Duration: Two hours.

Past Exam Papers
Past English exam papers can be viewed and downloaded from the VCAA VCE website

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Last up-dated 12 November, 2012
Website originally designed and constructed by V. Karvelas, 2004
Up-dated and constructed and maintained by G. Marotous, 2007
© George Marotous. Melbourne High School English Faculty
 
     
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