The Beginner’s Guide to Year 9 English

Welcome to The Beginner's Guide to year 9 English. In this Guide, we will give you a one-stop shop for the skills you need to ace Year 9.

All about The Beginner’s Guide to Year 9 English

Year 9 is an important year for students of English. It is the first year of Stage 5. In this year, students move beyond the basics of reading skills and basic writing and move onto to analysing complex texts and developing complex, sustained extended essays.

Along with increasingly complex texts, students need to start thinking about and discussing higher order techniques. When responding, students will need to discuss their findings in greater detail with a focus on developing sustained, coherent responses.

We’ve put this Guide together to help students get ahead in Year 9 and cope with these challenges.


What’s the number 1 problem Year 9 students face?

Hitting cruise control.

Year 9 students face many issues, but the root cause for all of them often comes back to the same thing.

The main issue that students face in Years 9 and 10 is a sense of complacency.

Year 9, and Stage 5, should be a time for the consolidation and mastery of existing skills.

Students often feel that Years 9 and 10 don’t count, and they stop pushing. It’s very easy, and common, for students to lose focus during Stage 5 and lose ground by assuming that English is just more of the same.

Instead, Year 9 is where students should developing their existing skill set and preparing for the challenges of senior English.


What’s in the guide?

This Guide is a comprehensive overview of the skills that you will need to develop to ace Year 9.

In it we will cover the following topics:

  • How to take and write notes
  • Textual analysis in Year 9
  • How to analyse prose fiction
  • How to analyse poetry
  • How to analyse Shakespeare
  • How to analyse film
  • How to analyse images and visual information
  • How to analyse prose non-fiction
  • Composing responses in year 9
  • How to write persuasive essays
  • How to write imaginative responses
  • How to write speeches and presentations
  • Year 9 exam skills

As you can see, there are quite a few areas you need to develop in Year 9.


What can I expect in year 9?

In Year 9, you can expect to engage with more complex texts. This will include longer novels, but also short stories that grapple with more complex moral questions or social issues.

The poetry you encounter will be more challenging and the visual texts, such as films, will require you to engage in deeper analysis.

The sorts of assessment tasks that students face during Stage 5 (Stage 5 refers to the way the NSW Education Standards Authority refers to the learning requirements of Years 9 and 10) demand that you take a big step up if you want to get the marks.

Finally, your responses will need to be longer, discuss things in greater depth, and discuss more complex ideas.

Let’s take a look at what this means for you.



What skills do I need to develop in Year 9?

To succeed in tackling these new challenges, you will need to develop and refine your English skills.

Let’s see what skills you need to develop.


Approaching higher order techniques

From Year 9 onwards, you will need to identify, consider, and discuss higher order literary techniques.

You will need to identify when composers utilise things like sarcasm, parody, or symbolism. You will need to understand how these techniques create meaning and what the composers are trying to achieve by utilising them.


Thinking about themes and complete texts

You will need to think about the author’s, and text’s, context and the impact this has on the text’s meaning. You will need to contemplate how your own context shapes the way you view a text.

This means asking yourself, “How has my experience shaped my perspective on this text?”


Developing your grammar and writing skills

As you discuss more complex ideas, you will need to employ more complex grammatical structures to accommodate them.

It is important that you pay careful attention to your grammar in Year 9 so that you develop good habits and don’t entrench poor habits.

In addition, you need to start structuring your paragraphs carefully.

For example, to convey complex ideas and discuss the connections between, say, a text, its use of techniques, and its context, you will need to use transition phrases to yoke your ideas and discussion together.


Writing sustained responses

As your discussion of texts and ideas becomes more complex, so will your responses become longer.

When you compose responses, you will be expected to produce formal informative and persuasive essays rather than short answers and paragraphs.

To do this effectively, you will need to develop skills with signposting – using thesis statements, topic sentences, linking statements, and keywords – to help your readers navigate the ideas you’re discussing.

Learning and developing your essay writing skills in Year 9 is a crucial step towards writing with clarity, insight, and concision in year 12.


Organisation and study habits

If you are going to successfully develop the above skills, then you will need to ensure you have a comprehensive and effective study habit.

Knowledge and skills don’t just materialise, they are the result of consistent learning, application, and practice!

As you may be aware, English isn’t the only subject that increases in difficulty in Year 9. Most of your other subjects will, too.

However, the nature of English, reading and viewing long texts multiple times, requires a greater allocation of time. It is important that you schedule adequate study time and stick to it to develop good habits. English is only going to become more time intensive as you progress through school.

An important skill to develop and refine in year 9 is your note-taking. You need to be highly competent at identifying important information, recording it for later recall in study notes, and then using these notes to produce your responses or study for exams.

The Matrix MethodTM for acing English guides students through the skills they need to develop:

Matrix Method For English Overview

What will you put in your study notes? Your analysis of the texts you have set for study.

Let’s see how the demands of textual analysis will change in year 9.


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Textual analysis in Year 9

The NESA Stage 5 Syllabus Outcomes point towards students needing to identify more complex techniques in their analysis as well as considering things that are external to the text like context and audience.

This will prepare them for year 10 English.

Let’s take a look at what this means for you.


Identifying advanced techniques

In Year 9 English, you may need to identify higher order literary techniques like symbolism, extended metaphor, satire, and parody.

You will need to be confident spotting:

  • Irony
  • Sarcasm
  • Ridicule
  • Abstraction
  • Icons and symbols
  • Tone and voice
  • Juxtaposition
  • Exaggeration
  • Humour
  • Syntax


Deepening your readings

In Year 9 English, you will need to take into account a text’s perspective and structure, as well as considering things like context and audience.

You will need to be confident identifying:

  • Textual Structure
  • Perspective and narrative viewpoint
  • Icons
  • Myths
  • Aesthetics
  • Purpose
  • Voice
  • Literary style
  • Intertextuality, adaptation, and allusion
  • Cultural values and assumptions
  • Values, value systems, and attitudes
  • How ideas can be represented and engaged with differently in different contexts


You will also need to think about how texts can lead to audiences to feel:

  • Empathy
  • Sympathy
  • Antipathy
  • Aesthetic appreciation


What kinds of assessments can you expect?

To give you an idea of what is in store, let’s take a quick look at the sorts of assessment tasks that you can face in Year 9:

  • Short answer comprehension questions: Similar to previous years, but the texts will be harder, and the length of your responses will increase with the depth of your analysis
  • Informative essays: Essays that aim to inform the reader of a subject or idea
  • Persuasive essays: Essays that aim to convince the reader of the validity of a particular perspective
  • Speeches: oral tasks that require you to persuade or inform the audience
  • Presentations: Similar to speeches, but presented with visual aids such as props or images
  • Multimodal presentations: Presentations utilising powerpoint slides or other digital visual aids
  • Podcasts: A topical audio presentation taking the form of an episode of a serialised podcast show
  • Vlogs: A video blog post. These are normally a personal response to an issue or theme in a text
  • Video essays: Similar to a vlog, but more formal in tone. Video essays incorporate clips and images to support the argument being made
  • Reflections: A type of writing task where you discuss how you approached a task and weigh up what you did well and poorly. reflection tasks ask you to discuss how you will improve in the future.
  • Short stories: Short narratives. In Year 9, you will be expected to produce narratives that have a clear structure and well-developed characterisation.
  • Creative reimaginings: Fan fiction! A form of creative writing where you retell an aspect or scene from a text from the perspective of a different character or with a different outcome
  • Justifications: A type of reflective writing where you explain what you have attempted to achieve with a particular piece. For example, justifications offer you an opportunity to explain how you’ve used a technique in your creative writing.

As you can see, there is a wide variety of challenging tasks that you can be set. This will provide challenges, but also set you up for Years 11 and 12.


A note about Stage 5 English

While we have tried to make this Guide as comprehensive as possible, the nature of Stage 5 English means that some skills will be taught in Year 9 and others in year 10.

To ensure that you’ve not missed any Stage 5 content, you should take the time to read through The Beginner’s Guide to Year 10 English once you’ve finished reading this one.


First, you need to know how to make notes

Now you know what is in store for you, we’ll start guiding you through the skills you need to ace year 9.

Because you can’t write insightful responses without insightful study notes, we’re going to show you how to make excellent notes!


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