Hsc Australian Voices Essay Definition

Modules. They’re confusing, fast paced and a little tricky to get a grasp of until you’ve actually done them – which can make them pretty daunting.

This collection of Understanding HSC Standard English articles aims to make them a little easier to understand and a lot easier to complete as you work through your HSC year. In them we’ll break down exactly what each module looks at, including how each elective within Modules A and C differ, and show you what you need to know to tackles these topics.

You can find the rest of the articles over at our Standard English Modules Megapost, but for now keep reading to learn more about Module A, Elective 1: Distinctive Voices!

Step 1: Understanding modules

You’ve probably come to this article because you’re probably wondering what on earth Distinctive Voices are all about. What are they? What is a ‘distinctive voice’? What makes a voice distinct? How exactly does a distinct voice help me to experience through language? These are all legitimate questions!

In order to understand modules, you need to break down what it is and how you interact with your texts.

When it comes to understanding modules there are four key things to consider, which I like to call the Four T’s.Topic, Time, Texts and Tests.


Modules are essentially mini areas of study (with Discovery being your actual Area of Study). They’re shorter courses focussed on a specific concept or idea related to the study of English and/or English literature and always focus on a specific theme or topic. Their aim is to get you to think about English and texts in different ways and then respond to the ideas presented in essays that you’ll write both for class marks and in Paper 2 of your HSC English Exam.

Modules A and C have two electives each, meaning that your teachers will choose what sub-topic you study within that module. You don’t have to worry too much about electives – just make sure that you know which one you’re studying come exam time so you don’t end up answering the question for a different elective!

Simplified, this means that each module is a new topic, and each of these topics looks at a different idea about English and English texts.


As mentioned before your modules are shorter courses than your Area of Study.

While you spend 45 hours on Discovery, you spend a total of 75 hours on all three modules – meaning 25 hours per module. That’s almost half as much time as what you spend on discovery, making the study a lot more fast-paced and self-driven, so if you don’t keep up you could fall behind! But don’t worry; that’s what we’re here for – try these articles on making effective to-do lists and getting started on study notes to get ahead.


For each module you’ll be given at least one prescribed text that you’ll have to read pretty quickly – check out this article to make the most of reading it. Teachers are given a list of possible prescribed texts for each module/elective and then choose which one they will teach you, so you don’t get a say in what text you study.

Over the course of all three modules you’ll end up studying one of each text type. That means that you could end up being prescribed a film and novel for Module A, a set of speeches for Module B and a play for Module C (that’s what I got!). The aim of this is to make sure you learn how to interpret and analyse a whole bunch of different text types, so you won’t be able to slack off on any specific one! As you work through the modules you’ll have to adapt and learn how to write about and analyse each text type specifically – check out these articles for key techniques for written texts and visual texts.


Your HSC English Exam Paper 2 is made up entirely of modules-based questions and will end up asking you to write three essays – one on each of the modules you studied. The questions are usually pretty broad because they have to apply to all of the possible prescribed texts within the module and elective, so they tend to focus more on themes and ideas about the module than the text itself.

We’ll look more at marking criteria later, but the key thing to remember about the exam is that it wants you to answer the question with your module in mind! Make sure to always link your arguments back to the question and focus on themes that are important to not only the text but the module as well. You also have to remember to use sophisticated language, analyse the specific text type and present complex arguments, but I’m pretty sure that much is obvious by now!

Step 2: Breaking Down Module A

In order to tackle modules, you need to know what module you’re studying, as what you’re studying might actually be different to what your friends are studying. If you’re here, you’re here for the first of the two electives from Module A: Experience Through Language, and that elective is Distinctive Voices. Thus, you need to understand what Experience Through Language is in order for you to understand what it’s all about.

The best way to do this is by checking out the actual module and elective description on the BOSTES Website.

Let’s start by looking at the information we’re given about Module A.

Now let’s break that down into key words.

Awareness of language: You knowing what a composer is doing with their words and the effect it is having.

How our perceptions:  The way in which we regard, understand or interpret something.

Relationships: The way in which two or more things, people or groups regard and behave towards and interact with each other.

Others: Individuals who are not ourselves.

World: Human and social interaction based upon the differing considerations of context, environment, location, individuals, culture, religion, spirituality.

Shaped: How this is created, developed and nourished.

Written: Texts designed to be in the written and read form, such as a poem, short story or essay.

Spoken: Texts designed to be in the spoken form, such as a speech or song.

VisualTexts designed to be in the visual form, such as a painting, stage performance or film.

When you read it as it is, what they’re looking for can be very convoluted, which is why sometimes it is best for you to know it in your everyday language. That’s why I’ve written it below:

This module requires students to explore uses of a particular aspect of language. It develops students’ knowledge of the composer’s intention in what they’re saying and the effect it is having, and helps them to understand the way in which we regard, understand or interpret the way in which two or more things, people or groups interact with each other, individuals around them and their social interaction with different considerations. These things will be shaped by language in texts designed to be read, listened to, or visualised. 

I know – that second sentence is huge! But break it down into bits and pieces and it becomes a lot easier to understand, especially now that it’s not in the lingo with which the Board of Studies loves to confuse us all.

Step 3: Breaking Down Elective 1 (Distinctive Voices)

Now that we have the focus of our study – Experience Through Language – broken down, now we have to understand how we’re supposed to experience through language, and that is through the overarching study of Distinctive Voices. But just like breaking down Modules, what do they mean by Distinctive Voices?

Let’s start off once more with what they say about Distinctive Voices:

And once again, let’s have a look at it with the key words to clarify the important parts:

Now let’s break that one down as well to help you understand it.

Voices: To express in words the specific values and opinions of an individual or group.

Various types: The different voices that can exist (i.e. your voice, the voice of a minority, the voice of a nation)

Function of voices in texts: The role in which voices play in giving a text life and meaning.

The ways language is used: The way in which a particular style of writing is gives meaning.

Create voices: How a values and opinions are developed and portrayed.

Affects interpretation: How does the use of a particular style of writing alter the way in which one regards and understands something.

Shapes meaning: How values and purpose are created and developed.

And in layman’s terms:

In their responding and composing, students consider how the existence of different voices plays a role in giving a text life and meaning. They explore the way in which a particular style of writing gives meaning in the creation of particular sets of values and opinions, and how it is developed and portrayed, and how this particular style of writing alters the way in which one regards and understands values and opinions, and how they are developed in the text. 

In order to achieve this, the syllabus requires you to choose one of the following texts listed below to study this:

Prose fiction

  • Small Island – Andrea Levy


  • Summer of the Seventeenth Doll – Ray Lawler


  • ‘back to melbourne’, ‘hillston welcome’, ‘cobar, july 1993’, ‘eat’, ‘noura from narooma’, ‘thomastown talk’ by Komninos
  • ‘‘Clancy of the Overflow’, ‘In Defence of the Bush’, ‘Old Pardon, the Son of Reprieve’, ‘A Bush Christening’, ‘Mulga Bill’s Bicycle’, ‘Saltbush Bill, J.P.’ by A.B. ‘Banjo’ Patterson


  • Speeches (nf): John F Kennedy – Inaugural Address, 1961
  • Indira Gandhi – ‘The True Liberation of Women’, 1980
  • Severn Cullis-Suzuki – Address to the Plenary Session, Earth Summit, 1992
  • Paul Keating – Funeral Service of the Unknown Australian Soldier, 1993
  • Aung San Suu Kyi – Nobel Lecture, 2012
  • Barack Obama – Inaugural Address, 2013


  • Perkins, Rachel, One Night the Moon (f)

For the best part of the next few months, one of the above selected texts will be your favourite thing (note: sarcasm). The thing is that usually if you get to choose what you’re doing, you’re more inclined to enjoy what you’re studying when you beat it to death with a stick from all the analysis you’ll be doing. Unfortunately, you’re not given that opportunity and it’s likely that if you’re not conscientious with your studies, you might find yourself asking ‘wait, what part of the text is that?’ when they reference a line in class.

However, it’s not all that boring – you do get to choose your own text to study along side the selected text. However, as much as you love Harry Potter or the Hunger Games, they’re probably not suitable for your studies. To know more about how to select these texts, make sure you read these two articles on the do’s and don’t’s of choosing a related text and thus the easy 3 steps on how to find a related text. 

It’s your duty to make sure you actually read the text. It’s you against a few thousand others, and everyone else will have the same copy of SparkNotes as you do, so maybe don’t just rely on SparkNotes, but the brain you know works pretty well when it needs to.

In order to familiarise yourself with your text, these ten questions will help you to better understand how the text came to be and why:

  1. Who was the author, what was their life like?
  2. How has this influenced the text’s content and perspective?
  3. When and where was the text made?
  4. What was society like at the time?
  5. What culture was it made in? (Western culture counts)
  6. How have these influenced the text and its perspective?
  7. What perspectives or points of view does the text present?
  8. What language choices are made to show this?
  9. How does the content and perspective of this text relate to the other prescribed text? (compare/contrast)
  10. How do you think the original audience felt about the text vs. how you feel about it?

All texts are written with a purpose, and it’s typically something about the author’s life and experience, and events in the world around them which gets them writing. That’s why getting into their head is a good idea, and  by answering these questions, you’ll have a little bit more of an idea about who they were.

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Step 4: Knowing Your Criteria

As much as students love to say that teachers aren’t marking to the criteria, it might come as a shock to some, but they actually do – especially when the HSC is based entirely upon sets of criteria.

If your maths teacher asks you ‘What is 12 + 17?’, you probably wouldn’t say, ‘Actually, I’m #TeamCaptainAmerica. I think Iron Man is overrated’ because it has nothing to do with what the teacher is asking.

A criteria gives you exactly what they are asking for, which is what you’ll need to then give them a relevant answer. This is by far the easiest thing you can do to get your Band 6. You’ll have probably seen these before:

It’s important to know the key words in the criteria, as this is the most fundamental part of understanding what they are looking for in your response:

Compares effectively: Highlighting the similarities and different in a thorough and analytical manner. This means that you need to delve into the thorough details of the text, selecting and discussing central themes and issues to discuss at length.

Variety of perspectives: Not merely looking at one point of view, but how distinctive voices offer multiple points of view about the world in one both your prescribed/selected text and the related text of your choosing.

Effective response: Just because you provide a response, doesn’t mean it’s effective. This essentially means that you need to have made your response based on relevantdetailed textual knowledge. What they are asking you to do is to know your text, the themes, language and components, and discuss it with relevance to the question they will be asking you in the exam. NOTE: This is NOT merely a knowledge dump!

Organised: This means to give a structured response. Imagine writing your conclusion before your thesis statement, or presenting your weakest point first. It’s a trainwreck waiting to happen. This means that your arguments are written in a clear and concise manner which can easily be read and understood.

Develops: This one relates to the question of how you got to that point of view. Places like SparkNotes offer you a position, but it does not often offer you how they got there and what elements were important in creating that conclusion. This means that when you offer your point of view, you can show how you got there.

Expresses… effectively: Are you writing in a way that anyone can understand what you’re trying to express? Are you conveying your message clearly and concisely, or are you repeating yourself and using overcomplicated words that you don’t quite know how to use? Your answers need to be structured and organised, and communicate your ideas relating to the Module and texts clearly.

Language appropriate: This means language relevant to what you have studied. This doesn’t necessarily mean having to use big words or complex language – it means using language appropriate to the topic of Standard English. For example, instead of ‘the time period which the author lived during’,  ‘the author’s historical context’ would more appropriate.

Audience, purpose and form: Who is the intended audience of your response? What is the argument  you are making? What kind of response is it? These are the three questions which will guide how you write your response, as your audience is obviously the HSC Markers, you are writing it to express your position in response to the question, and your response will depend on the HSC verb which has been used in a question. For example, if you were being asked to ‘Compare and contrast’, you wouldn’t give simply list your response.

Each school will have a different essay criteria, but now you know exactly how to break down a criteria, and what some of the key words they frequently use actually mean.

Understanding the criteria is just as important as breaking down the question, and to know how you can effectively break down any English question, you had better head over here to read exactly how to do it so that you know exactly how to answer the questions being asked.

Step 5: Start Writing

It’s easier said than done!

As you go through your text, you will be deconstructing different components and themes which make that text unique in Experience Through Language.

But nobody becomes good at essay writing overnight and no first draft is ever a masterpiece. Essay writers like George Orwell often wrote hundreds of pages which would eventually be reduced to just a few in the composition process. It all comes down to frequent and self-reflective practice. This means that you not only practice writing, but often and with awareness of your strengths and weaknesses.

For this example, I will guide you through a simple paragraph with the following question:

‘Distinctive voices offer a variety of perspectives on the world.’ Compare how this is achieved in your prescribed text and ONE other related text of your own choosing.

For this, I will be using Paul Keating – Funeral Service of the Unknown Australian Soldier, 1993 and the scene ‘Nixon Demoted‘ fromthe episode ‘Why We Fight’ in Steven Spielberg’s Band of Brothers. 


S.T.E.E.L is one of the most effective essay scaffolds as it is easy to prepare, collate and compose a response. Within it, we have two styes; AABB and ABAB:

  • A refers to a paragraph about the first text;
  • B refers to a paragraph about the second text.

Generally ABAB works better, as it has a smoother flow, shows better integration and allows you to compare and contrast the texts as you go, keeping your essay balanced.


Refer back to the central focus of the discussion: ‘Distinctive voices offer a variety of perspectives on the world.’

When I review both Keating’s eulogy and the Band of Brothers scene, the first immediate position I assume is that a great loss is experienced as a result of of war. From here, I would develop my overarching thesis statement – the position I am going to take for this paragraph. As it is a compare question, I am going to frame my argument with the similarities of this position.

The Funeral Service of the Unknown Australian Soldier and the scene Nixon demoted are united in the exploration of loss during the war, but present these from the different perspectives of communal and individual loss.

The focus of my statements are how both texts explore the theme of loss during war, but present them according to a communal or individual consideration.

To give some background, the Funeral Service of the Unknown Australian Soldier took place on Remembrance Day (Armistice Day) on 11th of November 1993, the 75th anniversary of the conclusion of World War I. With this in mind, Keating now lives in an Australia which has been built upon the ramifications of the conflict, but did not directly participate in the event itself. Keating’s purpose is to commemorate the sacrifices made by our soldiers of the past and present, and remind Australians that war is not to be glorified.

HBO’s television series Band of Brothers was developed by Steven Spielberg and based primarily off  Stephen E. Ambrose’s 1993 non-fiction book, Band of Brothers which explored the participation of Easy Company, a Company within the 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, assigned to the United States Army’s 101st Airborne Division. Band of Brothers utilised many autobiographical accounts and memoirs to capture multiple views of the participants who reflected upon their experiences soon after the conclusion of World War II. Band of Brothers serves as a reflection of the moral, mental, and physical hurdles of the men, and the changing perspective of the war as discoveries, such as concentration camps, are made.

Technique + Example

This is the part where you have to bring in your literary analysis of your texts. You won’t be simply listing these; instead, you’ll be introducing the ways in which the composer uses techniques in the texts and what it does to give meaning. You’ll also be integrating your quotes and examples at the same time in order to give a nice, polished answer.

In the Funeral Service of the Unknown Australian Soldier, Keating utilises statistics to explore the losses made in conflict, ‘One of the 416,000 Australians who volunteered for service… 60,000 Australians who died on foreign soil’. By utilising statistics, Keating imposes a poignant reflection as he then places a perspective upon this number, ‘100,000 Australians who have died in wars this century’. By contrast, the conversation between Lewis Nixon and Richard Winters in the scene Nixon Demoted in Band of Brothers inspects the minutiae of war; a mere plane of men as opposed to a vast number. Upon enquiring about a parachute jump of Nixon’s own company, Spielberg emphasises the emotional impact of the loss of men by Nixon’s matter-of-factly and almost insensitive reply to Winters’ enquiry: ‘It was great. Fantastic. Took a direct hit over the drop zone. I got out. Two others got out… Oh yeah, they blew up over Germany somewhere. Boom.’


This part then answers, ‘What exactly did these things do to give the text meaning?’, and in this particular case, how do they show the exploration of loss during war? Essentially, you are to answer why you included them.

Keating did not meet the Unknown Soldier, and does not provide a personal reflection of the loss of an Australian soldier but that of a communal loss as then-Prime Minister of Australia. Keating’s very specific knowledge of statistical data invokes an emotional reaction in providing a scale of the impact and reach of war. However, this can also be perceived as sanitary, as it does not explore an individual loss, but a communal one as he has truncated the experiences of the Unknown Soldier into a mere statistic. This is drastically different in the way in which Spielberg inspects individual loss. Nixon, as an officer, was personally invested in men, and suffered the personal ramifications of loss during war. Nixon’s use of a dry, sarcastic tone to communicate the deaths of his men initially presents indifference to the issue, but in the absence of emotional grieving, instead has the viewed witness what is a highly emotional scene. To provide an additional tier, Spielberg presents this impact upon Nixon visually as he anxiously searches for Vat 69 to fuel his known alcoholism as a result of post-traumatic stress disorder.


In this section, you will need to link the two texts together in relation to your overarching statement. This is what seals the deal and brings them all back together.

Keating’s scaled eulogy presents a scale of loss, and imposes a duty to reflect upon the necessity of war at the cost of human life as the leader of a nation, whilst Nixon’s private grief which manifests in alcoholism displays the toll and impact of war upon an individual at war who experiences loss as it occurs. The contrast between both texts provides an exploration into how loss and grief can be experienced both communally and personally.

Voici et voilà! There’s 1/4 of an essay, without an introduction, 2-3 more paragraphs and a conclusion.

If we put all the sections together, you’ll see that it is a very large and chunky paragraph, but in fact, even as I write it, I had to write and rewrite sections in order to ensure that it is clear and cohesive. What you’ll notice is that I constantly refer back to the focus of the discussion: the difference between communal and personal loss, and thus, remain centred on the overarching essay focus: Distinctive voices offer a variety of perspectives on the world. 

Give it a try, and let us know how you go!

Thinking of Buying Some HSC Notes?

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With these notes you can spend less time rewriting your textbook and worrying about whether your notes answer the syllabus dot points correctly and spend more time learning and practicing your skills knowing your notes are accurate and concise.

Head on over to HSC-Notes to get your HSC subject notes now

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Flick us a message on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/artofsmart/), give us a call on 1300 267 888, or email us on info@artofsmart.com.au.

Elizabeth Goh isn’t a fan of writing about herself in third person, even if she loves writing. Elizabeth decided she didn’t get enough English, History or Legal Studies at Abbotsleigh School for her own HSC in 2010 so she came back to help others survive it with Art of Smart Education. She’s since done a mish-mash of things with her life which includes studying a Bachelor of Arts (Politics and International Relations) with a Bachelor of Laws at Macquarie University, working for NSW Parliament, and collecting bronze busts of famous world leaders to use as book ends on her shelf.

Elizabeth is on academic exchange at the University of Vienna, Austria until March 2016.




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  5. 2011 HSC Notes from the Marking Centre — English ESL

2011 HSC Notes from the Marking Centre – English (ESL)



This document has been produced for the teachers and candidates of the Stage 6 course in English (ESL). It contains comments on candidate responses to the 2011 Higher School Certificate examination, indicating the quality of the responses and highlighting their relative strengths and weaknesses.

This document should be read along with the relevant syllabus, the 2011 Higher School Certificate examination, the marking guidelines and other support documents developed by the Board of Studies to assist in the teaching and learning of English (ESL).

General comments

Teachers and candidates should be aware that examiners may ask questions that address the syllabus outcomes in a manner that requires candidates to respond by integrating their knowledge, understanding and skills developed through studying the course.

Candidates need to be aware that the marks allocated to the question and the answer space (where this is provided on the examination paper) are guides to the length of the required response. A longer response will not in itself lead to higher marks. Writing far beyond the indicated space may reduce the time available for answering other questions.

Candidates need to be familiar with the Board’s Glossary of Key Words, which contains some terms commonly used in examination questions. However, candidates should also be aware that not all questions will start with or contain one of the key words from the glossary. Questions such as ‘how?’, ‘why?’ or ‘to what extent?’ may be asked or verbs may be used that are not included in the glossary, such as ‘design’, ‘translate’ or ‘list’.

Paper 1 – Language Study within an Area of Study

Section I

General comments

Better responses drew clear connections between the concept of belonging and the language and visual features used to present ideas and information in the texts. Weaker responses, however, made limited connections between belonging and the features of the texts.

Most candidates contained their responses to the allocated spaces. In better responses, candidates interpreted the requirements of the questions accurately and responded both appropriately and concisely, taking into account the marks awarded for each question. A small number of candidates included unnecessary details or copied parts of the texts in their responses.

Specific comments

Question 1

  1. Most candidates correctly identified two ideas about belonging. In weaker responses, candidates simply copied parts of the text.
  2. In better responses, candidates explained the benefit of belonging and gave an appropriate example. Weaker responses contained an example without explaining the benefit of belonging.
  3. In better responses, candidates correctly explained the attitude of the composer using detailed textual references to support their response. Weaker responses identified the composer’s attitude using limited examples from the text.
  4. Better responses explained ideas about belonging using visual techniques to effectively explain their ideas. Weaker responses identified an idea about belonging or gave a visual technique without explaining its effectiveness.
    1. Most candidates correctly explained one or both parts of the metaphor.
    2. Better responses gave an example of language and explained how it sustained the metaphor. Weaker responses identified an example of language without providing further explanation.
  5. In better responses, candidates effectively compared ideas about belonging using detailed textual responses. Weaker responses compared aspects of the texts without explaining the ideas about belonging.
  6. In better responses, candidates used ideas from at least one of the texts and produced an effective radio announcement that communicated the benefits of community participation. These responses sustained the register of a radio announcement by encouraging the listeners to participate in a community event.

    Weaker responses relied heavily on information from the texts and did not clearly communicate the benefits of participating in a community event. Many of these responses provided an analysis of the texts or large parts from the texts were copied.

Section II

Question 2

Most candidates demonstrated a good understanding of the concept of belonging and the link between people and places as well as an individual’s sense of belonging as represented in the texts. Overall, most candidates also showed good skills in interpreting texts and synthesising ideas. Most responses adopted the appropriate form and structure of an extended response essay.

In better responses, candidates introduced a thesis to answer the question that they maintained and supported throughout the essay, including the idea of comparison. They explained succinctly that composers of different texts conveyed how connections with people and places clearly shape an individual’s sense of belonging, demonstrating comprehensive knowledge of the texts and an insightful understanding of the concept. Examples were analysed and/or quotes were included to support discussion of the insights gained. Better responses also demonstrated a high degree of intertextual linking, fluency and sustained control of expression.

A number of candidates discussed belonging in general terms rather than specifically discussing how belonging or not belonging was conveyed in or through the texts studied. Others narrowed their discussion to address the question partially, describing and analysing people and/or places represented in the texts without linking these commentaries to how connections with these people and places contributed to a sense of belonging. A number of prepared responses addressed elements of questions from previous years’ examinations.

Not all responses examined the prescribed texts in detail, hence the discussion of people and places was at times narrow. Some candidates appeared to select a few key extracts from the texts rather than providing an in-depth discussion. Most candidates looked at the ideas of people and places in terms of the characters in the text, while others focused on their own sense of belonging gained through connections with people and places. Not all responses addressed the idea of ‘connection with people and places’ but used terms like ‘families’, ‘relationships’, ‘communities’ or ‘culture’ instead. Some examined the notion in a superficial way by including the phrase ‘people and places’ in the introduction, at the end of the discussion of each text and in the conclusion. In many cases, brief attention was given to comparing the extent to which the texts supported the idea that connections with people and places are necessary for a sense of belonging. At times this comparative component of the responses was implied rather than explained; often the evidence to substantiate claims was lacking.

Most candidates interpreted the texts well, demonstrating understanding of the concept and the causal relationship between characters’ development and connections made with people and places. Some had difficulty explaining how an individual’s sense of belonging was communicated in the texts. Most identified some of the techniques evident in the texts but many did not use these selectively to support the argument they were presenting in their response. In weaker responses, candidates retold or described the content of the texts rather than interpreting and analysing the techniques used by the composers to convey ideas.

Candidates are reminded to address all the terms of the question, select examples and integrate them into the discussion to support their thesis.

Candidates should not write about their own personal experience of a sense of belonging as a related text of their own choosing.

Where poetry is a prescribed text, it is advisable that candidates refer to more than one of the set poems in the response and to be certain that the poems used in their discussion are actually on the list of prescribed texts for that composer.

Candidates should also consider the relevance and appropriateness of related texts in linking them to the other texts and their thesis.

Paper 2 – Modules

Section I – Module A: Experience Through Language

General comments

In better responses, candidates integrated their analysis and discussion of ideas about Australia into the overall response to the question. Weaker responses often provided a general description of techniques and did not relate this back to the question.

Candidates are reminded to read and respond to the question set. Candidates who relied heavily on prepared responses did not address the specific requirements and focus of the task. More effective responses displayed evidence of the time taken to plan and tailor knowledge and information to suit the question. These responses established an immediate and relevant response to the topic and outlined a clear thesis in their introduction.

Most candidates recognised the need to write in an explanatory style and sustained a formal register throughout their responses. Candidates are reminded to make a careful choice of related texts and to synthesise their response with reference to the prescribed text. Weaker responses sometimes used wording from previous examination questions relating to the module and/or elective.

Specific comments

Question 1 – Elective 1: Australian Voices

Better responses demonstrated a thorough knowledge of the elective and the prescribed text. These responses developed a clear thesis and provided detailed discussion of how texts use Australian voices to explore ideas about Australia. They made insightful distinctions between textual forms and language features, and referred to specific examples to illustrate how a range of voices had been created in the texts to reflect the beliefs, attitudes and perceptions of individuals and groups within Australian society. These responses demonstrated a careful choice of related text and synthesised the analysis of both texts.

In many responses, candidates discussed how the composer or editor presented a range of voices and only superficially addressed how these voices reflected the beliefs, attitudes and perceptions of individuals and groups within Australian society. Some candidates relied heavily on examples of the use of slang, idioms and accent in the text to illustrate their conception of an Australian voice. More limited responses merely provided a recount of the text, either in full or in part, or provided character profiles or catalogues of techniques with little or no reference to the question. These responses did not make links between the prescribed and related text or did not refer to a related text.

  1. Prose Fiction – J C Burke, The Story of Tom Brennan
    Many candidates focused on the characters’ voices and how these voices changed throughout the narrative instead of analysing narrative structure and features of language. Better responses analysed how the composer has presented a distinctly Australian voice and how this voice reflects the values, attitudes and perceptions of individuals and groups within Australian society, with particular reference to life in rural Australia. Weaker responses relied heavily on retelling the plot with limited analysis of language features and little or no reference to the elective focus.
  2. Drama – Katherine Thomson, Diving for Pearls
    Better responses effectively addressed the use of dramatic forms and features to create a range of voices that reflect the different modes of expression and changing values and attitudes of both the characters and Australian society itself. Weaker responses tended to be superficial, lacking in specific examples and analysis and often giving a simple recount of plot details.
  3. Poetry – Komninos, Komninos by the Kupful
    In better responses, candidates analysed and discussed the use of poetic forms and features and the persona’s voice in the poems. They explored the articulation of Australian attitudes and lifestyles in the poems and contrasted a range of attitudes and values presented. Weaker responses were often limited to an analysis of register and accent.
  4. Nonfiction – Carmel Bird (ed), The Stolen Children – Their Stories
    Most candidates considered the text as a whole, focusing specifically on the political and editorial responses to the stories and the voices of the Indigenous stolen children. Better responses developed a thesis, discussing in detail how the text explored different ideas about Australia. These responses compared and contrasted the different types of Australian voices presented by the editor, focusing on the issues of assimilation and egalitarianism. Weaker responses focused on a recount of the stories of the stolen children.
  5. Film – Rob Sitch, The Castle
    Better responses demonstrated a thorough understanding of the film as a whole and candidates developed a thesis, focusing on how the characters’ voices and relationships with one another reflect the values, attitudes and perceptions of a multicultural Australian society. Weaker responses relied heavily on plot recount, simple discussion of characters and relationships, and examples of dialogue, with little or no analysis of features of film.

Question 2 – Elective 2: Australian Visions

Better responses demonstrated a thorough knowledge of the elective and the prescribed text. These responses developed a clear thesis and provided detailed discussion of how the texts explore ideas about Australia. They made insightful distinctions between textual forms and language features, and referred to specific and relevant examples to illustrate how a range of visions had been created in the text to reflect the beliefs, attitudes and perceptions of individuals and groups within Australian society. These responses demonstrated a careful choice of related text and synthesised the analysis of both texts.

Many candidates discussed how the composer created a range of visions but only superficially addressed the relationship between images and descriptions in the text as well as attitudes, values and perceptions. Some candidates discussed examples of images in the text without referring to how they can communicate a vision. Weaker responses referred to only a small portion of the prescribed text, relied on retelling the story or describing characters and settings, with little or no discussion of textual forms and language features. These responses did not make links between the prescribed and related text nor did they refer to a related text.
  1. Prose Fiction – Peter Goldsworthy, Maestro
    Candidates who attempted this question tended to focus on different perceptions of life in Darwin and different attitudes to music. Better responses developed an analysis of how narrative structure and techniques were used to create Australian visions and linked these visions to ideas about Australia. Weaker responses focused on the relationship between Paul and Keller or provided simple plot recounts and incidental descriptions of characters and settings.
  2. Drama – John Misto, The Shoe-Horn Sonata
    Better responses integrated analysis of the use of dramatic techniques, such as audio-visuals, songs and music, and voice-overs into a discussion of the Australian vision of mateship and restitution of past injustices. Most responses provided an overview of the relationship between Bridie and Sheila and recounted the characters’ experiences as prisoners-of-war, incorporating an analysis of the features of drama used in the play. Weaker responses often relied on simple plot recount.
  3. Poetry – Douglas Stewart, Selected Poems
    Better responses demonstrated an insightful understanding of how, through his poetic visions of Australia, Stewart also communicates Australian visions of egalitarianism, an appreciation of Australian flora and fauna, and respect for Indigenous rights. These responses showed an awareness of the poet’s social and historical context and often projected the visions revealed in the poems onto contemporary Australian society. Most candidates demonstrated a sound understanding of poetic techniques through their analysis of at least two poems. Weaker responses relied on a recount of the poem’s subject matter or a listing of techniques.
  4. Film – Baz Luhrmann, Strictly Ballroom
    Better responses integrated an insightful and detailed analysis of film techniques, including music, setting and costuming, into a discussion that focused on Luhrmann’s visions of individuality, conformity, competitiveness, persistence and multiculturalism. Many candidates focused on camera angles and camera shots and made generalised comments on their effect in communicating visual representations of Australian characters, places and situations. Weaker candidates recalled isolated scenes and relied on superficial analysis of character and dialogue.
  5. Media – Deb Cox, Seachange
    Better responses demonstrated an awareness of the features of the text as a television series. These responses demonstrated an understanding of the development of Australian visions throughout the episodes chosen and made specific reference to at least two episodes. They contrasted the differing visions presented in the text by different characters. Weaker responses relied on a generalised recount of the series as a whole with little or no analysis of film techniques.

Section II – Module B: Texts and Society

General comments

All students were able to incorporate the stimulus material in their responses to varying degrees. Candidates are reminded to read the question carefully, ensuring they address all aspects of it in their development of and communication of information and ideas.

Specific comments

Question 3 – Elective 1: Living and Working in the Community

Many responses demonstrated a clear understanding of the question, displayed a well-developed sense of audience and purpose, and effectively incorporated the stimulus material into the language forms and features of a feature article. These candidates imaginatively adopted the voice and perspective of a persona and provided arguments for and against the advertising of junk food on children’s television. Responses were persuasive, selective in their use of the stimulus and expressed knowledge and insightful understanding of the broader role of junk food and advertising in the community.

Better responses presented their ideas in a persuasive style which was suited to the audience and specifically addressed the arguments for and against junk-food advertising targeting children. In these responses, candidates provided meaningful, relevant and detailed support of their perspective. They also showed creative flair in the presentation of their ideas and suggestions through the use of relevant examples and explanations. Sophisticated expression and an awareness of the conventions of a feature article were evident in the presentation of ideas. There was a highly developed sense of context, purpose and audience which was sustained in the language register and form.

Responses in the mid-range were usually more general in their presentation and lacked detail, interpretation and creativity. They gave more generalised opinions which were tied closely to the stimulus and while these responses attempted to justify their arguments, they did not recognise the significance of the information they were using.

Weaker responses restated the stimulus and/or did not respond to the question. They did not present an opinion and were unable to manipulate the stimulus for an audience. These responses incorporated minimal supporting details, although many attempted to list points in a general way. They also displayed a lack of control of expression.

Question 4 – Elective 2: Academic English

Most responses displayed an ability to organise, analyse and interpret the stimulus material to write a discussion essay to meet the requirements of the task. The responses generally reflected an awareness of the specified form, but varied in terms of addressing the specific purpose and audience of the task, and in their control of language register.

Most candidates composed a discussion essay which presented arguments for and against the statement. However, the more superficial responses showed little development in the analysis of the stimulus and/or did not fully address the discussion component of the task. These responses often lacked synthesis.

Better responses presented their discussion in an objective and insightful manner and specifically addressed the statement that junk-food advertising should be banned from children’s television. In these responses, candidates provided meaningful, relevant and detailed support of their perspective. They also showed creative flair in the presentation of their ideas and suggestions through the use of relevant examples and explanations. Sophisticated expression and an awareness of the conventions of a discussion essay were evident in the presentation of ideas. There was a highly developed sense of context, purpose and audience which was sustained in the language register and form.

Responses in the mid-range were usually more general in their presentation and lacked detail, interpretation and creativity. They gave more generalised opinions which were tied closely to the stimulus. Although these responses attempted to justify their arguments, they did not recognise the significance of the information they were using.

Weaker responses restated the stimulus and/or did not respond to the question. They did not present an opinion and were unable to manipulate the stimulus for an audience. They tended to list information from the stimulus, rather than attempting to incorporate it into a discussion for and against the statement. They also displayed a lack of control of expression.

Listening Paper

General comments

Candidates who performed well in the listening paper this year demonstrated an awareness that language is chosen and structured to achieve a specific purpose and appeal to a specific audience. Better responses were supported by specific reference to the stimulus.

Specific comments

Question 1

Most candidates identified two features used to engage the audience at the beginning of the program. Responses did not need an explanation of the effect on the responder.

Question 2

Most candidates identified how the Australian musicians knew that Yousif Aziz was popular in Iraq.

Question 3

In better responses, candidates provided a detailed description of different aspects of the process involved in recording The Key of Sea CD. Mid-range responses adequately described different aspect of the process. However, sequential steps were not as clearly defined or detailed as in the better responses. In weaker responses, candidates identified one aspect of the process.

Question 4

Most candidates clearly explained why the music ‘just worked’.

Question 5

In better responses, candidates provided a detailed explanation of the messages that The Key of Sea project aimed to communicate to Australian people. Mid-range responses attempted to explain those messages. In weaker responses, candidates identified one message without explanation.

Question 6

In better responses, candidates provided a detailed and effective analysis of how aspects and elements of the program conveyed enthusiasm for The Key of Sea project. In mid-range responses, candidates identified relevant aspects and/or elements of the program and either provided some analysis of how enthusiasm for The Key of Sea project was conveyed or attempted to explain how enthusiasm was conveyed. In weaker responses, candidates identified aspects and/or elements of the program which conveyed enthusiasm for The Key of Sea project without explaining how those elements conveyed enthusiasm. Many candidates referred to the enthusiasm, interest or engagement of the audience.


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