Beginner’s Guide to Year 7 & 8 English

Welcome to our Beginner's Guide to Year 7 & 8 English. We've written this Guide to help all students ace Junior English

An overview of The Beginner’s Guide to Year 7 & 8 English

Welcome to the Beginner’s Guide to Year 7 & 8 English. In this Guide, we’re going to discuss the skills and knowledge you need to ace your first years of high school!

High school can be a profound change for children as they move from primary school to high school. Students are given more autonomy, but also have more responsibility for their own learning.

While some students take to this new responsibility and freedom well, others tend to take longer to acclimatise and struggle without the close guidance they received in primary school.

In English, the change can be very challenging as students move from grammar and basic discussions about texts to writing analytical responses in complex paragraphs or essays.

The texts students study become more challenging and the analysis students produce is much deeper. Similarly, creative responses become more complex and require more techniques, deeper characterisation, and the dreaded dialogue.


What is in this Guide?

The Beginner’s Guide to Year 7 & 8 English explains and presents step-by-step processes and dos and don’ts for all the key skills required by the syllabus outcomes.

Let’s look at the different articles that we’ve included.


Table of Contents

  • Part 1: What Year 7 & 8 Students Need to Know
  • Part 2: Reading skills
  • Part 3: Comprehension skills
  • Part 4: Textual analysis
  • Part 5: How to plan written responses
  • Part 6: Common problems students have with non-fiction writing
  • Part 7: How to write persuasive and informative responses
  • Part 8: How to write creative responses


What is English in Years 7 & 8 (Stage 4)

In high school, students study stages 4, 5, and 6 of English. Each of these stages is designed to help students develop their English skills and broaden their knowledge of the subject and gain an appreciation for literature, poetry, film, and drama.


What is Stage 4?

Stage 4 is the first Stage of High School English. The aim is to transition students from primary school and prepare them for the challenges that senior English will throw at them.

Stage 4 is where students increase their proficiency with English skills and begin to understand the depth and breadth of information that texts can contain.

Students will hone their skills in reading and analysing more complex English literary texts such as novels and poems. Students will develop their skills for analysing films and other text types such as plays, poetry, and non-fiction writing.

Stage 4 is focused on developing students writing and analysis skills. Years 7 and 8 are where students begin writing increasingly complex responses and developing their ability to apply their knowledge of texts in their writing.

In addition, students need to begin assessing how playwrights, novelists, poets, essayists, and speechwriters employ figurative devices (things like metaphors, imagery, or rhetorical questions, to develop meaning.)


What to expect in English Years 7 and 8

Years 7 and 8 will bring students a host of new experiences but also new challenges.

Let’s see what you have ahead!


How is high school English different from primary school?

High school English requires more independent learning from students. Students will be expected to learn and analyse texts on their own.

Students will need to be confident in their responding. From Year 7, students will need to begin producing increasingly sophisticated written responses that demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of texts.

In addition, students will need to communicate their individual perspectives on ideas and texts in their writing – in both critical and creative responses.


What will English in Years 7 and 8 involve

To give you a better sense of what you’ll face in Years 7 and 8, let’s take a look at the specifics of Stage 4



For Stage 4, students will need to acquire knowledge from a variety of related areas:

  • Vocabulary: Correct spelling and usage of words
  • Grammar and syntax: How to form and describe sentences and parts of speech
  • Mediums of production: The types of texts. Ie. Novels, films, plays, etc
  • Textual form: The specific form of a textual medium. For example, a first-person novel
  • The genre of a text. For example, a science fiction film or horror novel
  • Literary, rhetorical, filmic, and dramatic techniques and devices: The figurative techniques composers use to convey meaning
  • Context: The circumstances surrounding the context of a text. Eg historical, economic, personal, etc

This knowledge is essential for developing critical thinking skills, analysing the variety of texts that students will study, and producing responses.


Read in a quiet place where people can’t interrupt you!


Students will read and view increasingly challenging texts. Students will need to be proficient and confident readers.

If students aren’t reading regularly for pleasure by the time they are in Year 7, it is a habit they must develop. Students who read regularly and for pleasure consistently outdo those that do not.


Critical Thinking

Students will continue to develop critical thinking skills throughout Years 7 and 8.

What is critical thinking?

Critical thinking is when you evaluate and actively question and review your thinking.

Critical thinking entails drawing from multiple subject areas to formulate and refine areas.

For example, in English, students need draw on their knowledge of a text, its context and the author’s context, their knowledge of literary devices, and their understanding of writing to produce a written response to a question.

Critical thinking is an essential skill for reading and deriving meaning from texts. When you engage in textual analysis, you are applying critical thinking.


Textual Analysis

Textual analysis is the process of reading a text and analysing how a composer has developed meaning. When students analyse the texts they consider the meaning they find in the text and try to understand how the composer of the text has represented this meaning.

Students need to have a thorough understanding of different figurative devices that are used in different mediums of production to produce effective analysis.


Take the time to think about what you’ve read.

Writing / Responding

Students need to be able to communicate their ideas and understandings to wide audiences in a variety of modes. In Years 7 & 8, students will need to produce responses in a variety of modes:

  • Paragraphs
  • Extended responses and essays
  • Feature articles
  • Speeches and Presentations
  • Creative writing
  • Poetry


FInally, it is important that students begin developing self-reflection skills.

Self-reflection is when you look back on the work that you’ve done and reflect on:

  • What you found easy
  • What you found difficult
  • What you think you did well
  • What you think you did poorly
  • How your assessment of your work compares to your marks

Self-reflection is a process that should help you improve your work in future. So, self-reflection tasks shouldn’t be taken as a task where you beat yourself up. Instead, you should use it as an objective opportunity to improve.


A list of Stage 4 English skills

While Students will need to have confidence in the following skills before they can comfortably develop further.


What skills will students need?

Comping into Year 7, students will need to have confidence and competence:

  • Reading
  • Spelling difficult words
  • Grammatical rules
  • Writing complex sentences
  • Composing Paragraphs
  • Constructing narratives
  • Giving short speeches and presentations

Students will build on these basics as they learn new skills and acquire new knowledge.


What skills will students develop?

Over the course of Years 7 and 8, students will develop the following skills:

  • Critical thinking
  • Textual analysis
  • Essay writing
  • Presentation and public speaking
  • Creative writing
  • Argumentation


What do the Stage 4 Outcomes require from students?

Each Stage in the curriculum has a syllabus attached to it.



Flowchart: The Relationship Between High School Year and Stage

Students studying English will need to meet a set range of outcomes to succeed in Years 7 and 8.

You can find the full NESA Stage 4 statement, here.


What are Stage 4 Outcomes?

A stage syllabus breaks down the different learning areas involved in each subject. It explains what teachers have to ensure students are capable of doing by the end of the Stage.

Each learning area has a list of outcomes. These are the things we will discuss in this guide. You can find the NESA Stage Outcomes here on the NESA website.

Okay. So, let’s see what is involved in the Stage 4 Outcomes.


Stage 4 Outcomes

For Stage 4 English, NESA expects that “through responding to and composing a wide range of texts and through the close study of texts, students will develop knowledge, understanding and skills in order to:

A. communicate through speaking, listening, reading, writing, viewing and representing

  • EN4-1A: responds to and composes texts for understanding, interpretation, critical analysis, imaginative expression and pleasure
  • EN4-2A: effectively uses a widening range of processes, skills, strategies and knowledge for responding to and composing texts in different media and technologies

B. use language to shape and make meaning according to purpose, audience and context

  • EN4-3B: uses and describes language forms, features and structures of texts appropriate to a range of purposes, audiences and contexts
  • EN4-4B: makes effective language choices to creatively shape meaning with accuracy, clarity and coherence

C. think in ways that are imaginative, creative, interpretive and critical

  • EN4-5C: thinks imaginatively, creatively, interpretively and critically about information, ideas and arguments to respond to and compose texts
  • EN4-6C: identifies and explains connections between and among texts

D. express themselves and their relationships with others and their world

  • EN4-7D: demonstrates understanding of how texts can express aspects of their broadening world and their relationships within it
  • EN4-8D: identifies, considers and appreciates cultural expression in texts

E. learn and reflect on their learning through their study of English

  • EN4-9E: uses, reflects on and assesses their individual and collaborative skills for learning

 What do I do with these Outcomes?

We’ve written this Guide around the different skills that reflect each Outcome. We’ve put a key at the start of each article, so you can see which outcomes are addressed in each section.

How much of this Guide should I read?

Whether you are a student or a parent, this Guide will have important information for you in every article.

This guide is meant to be practical. To that end, it covers the skills you will need in Years 7 and 8 for academic success and provides you with step-by-step guides and practical tips to help you learn and develop.

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Throughout this guide, we have provided detailed examples and step-by-step guides that utilise the experience that we have developed over the past 18 years in helping thousands of students realise their academic goals.


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