In this article, we explain how to navigate and ace Module A: Language, Identity and Culture for English Standard by explaining the rubric, expectations, and key ideas.
In this Guide, we’ll explore English Standard Module A: Language, Identity and Culture and give you a detailed breakdown of what the Module requirements are and what the NESA Syllabus outline really means.
For Module A, students will need to focus on one set text and explore a range of supplementary texts. This Module is concerned with how composers represent cultures and identity in their works to challenge and shape audiences’ perceptions.
What you are being asked to explore is how texts can challenge or reinforce the assumptions and stereotypes about identity and culture that exist in society.
While this Module does have a comparative element to it, where you explore supplementary material. It is assessed on your set text.
To help you better study Module A, we’ll look at the Rubric is important as it will tell you exactly what you need to focus on as you study your prescribed text and supplementary material.
Check back regularly as we add new articles and exemplar essays for Module A texts!
To prepare you for studying this Module and engaging with your set and supplementary texts, we’ll take a detailed look at the Module A rubric.
Let’s see what the rubric says.
Language has the power to both reflect and shape individual and collective identity. In this module, students consider how their responses to written, spoken, audio and visual texts can shape their self-perception. They also consider the impact texts have on shaping a sense of identity for individuals and/or communities. Through their responding and composing students deepen their understanding of how language can be used to affirm, ignore, reveal, challenge or disrupt prevailing assumptions and beliefs about themselves, individuals and cultural groups.
Students study one prescribed text in detail, as well as a range of textual material to explore, analyse and assess the ways in which meaning about individual and community identity, as well as cultural perspectives, is shaped in and through texts. They investigate how textual forms and conventions, as well as language structures and features, are used to communicate information, ideas, values and attitudes which inform and influence perceptions of ourselves and other people and various cultural perspectives.
Through reading, viewing and listening, students analyse, assess and critique the specific language features and form of texts. In their responding and composing students develop increasingly complex arguments and express their ideas clearly and cohesively using appropriate register, structure and modality. Students also experiment with language and form to compose imaginative texts that explore representations of identity and culture, including their own. Students draft, appraise and refine their own texts, applying the conventions of syntax, spelling and grammar appropriately and for particular effects.
Did you struggle to completely understand what this document is asking you? Don’t worry if you didn’t, it’s written with some complex language and terms you may not have encountered.
To ensure that you get to grips with what the Module A Rubric demands of statements, we’ve broken it into 9 Rubric statements.
Let’s have a look at those statements and unpack them into plain English.
“Language has the power to both reflect and shape individual and collective identity. In this module, students consider how their responses to written, spoken, audio and visual texts can shape their self-perception.”
This statement focuses on the different ways in which identity can exist:
The focus, here, is on how language in texts – and in public discourse – has the ability to shape how individuals and community see themselves and are seen by others. This course is concerned with culture and what we think about culture and why.
But what is culture?
Culture, a noun, has a couple of different definitions:
This Module is concerned directly with the 1st and 3rd of the above. We want to explore how culture is depicted and how this differs from the lived experience of culture for individuals and communities. This first statement, in particular, draws our attention to how culture can be depicted by art and language but also shaped by it. How culture is depicted will shape how it reacts. For example, if you shame or stereotype a culture it will become insular and suspicious of outsiders. We are interested in exploring how cultures and individuals from within depict themselves and how they react to depictions of them.
So, what does culture have to do with identity and individuals?
If you think about it, as much as we are all individuals moving through the world. We are also parts of different communities. For example, you are you, but you are also part of:
While each of these individually doesn’t define who you are, they all contribute to your identity. These communities all form part of a culture – perhaps a singular culture or a broader one.
The second sentence is instructing you to reflect on how you experience this process as a reader and viewer.
You need to ask yourself, what emotions do I feel when I engage with a text? How does it shape my sense of identity?
A good habit is to keep a reading diary and make note of what your responses are to chapters, short stories, poems, plays, and films that you read and watch. Then, you’ll be in a position to start understanding how the composer represents identity and culture in a way that compels you to self-reflect.
“They also consider the impact texts have on shaping a sense of identity for individuals and/or communities. Through their responding and composing students deepen their understanding of how language can be used to affirm, ignore, reveal, challenge or disrupt prevailing assumptions and beliefs about themselves, individuals and cultural groups.”
Texts aren’t benign objects. Humanity has a history of producing texts that are controversial because they impact on how a group or community perceives itself.
Texts like Darwin’s The Origin of Species, Joyce’s Ulysses, Plath’s The Bell Jar, Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses, or Michael Ahmad’s The Lebs have all courted controversy because of how they frame identity and culture. These are texts that compel society to reflect on its views and actions. This is often an a challenging experience.
Texts can also be profoundly offensive to particular communities and cultures. The Origin of Species forced Christian culture to reevaluate its place in the universe Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses was profoundly offensive to Muslim communities because of its depiction of the Prophet Mohammed and saw several fatwas issued on him. What one person sees as art can be something another sees as profoundly offensive because of how it depicts and makes assumptions about culture and the individuals that identify with those cultures.
A text that is offensive to a community can have negative reactions. For example, Rob Sitch’s The Castle is a celebration of Australian diversity and egalitarianism. But it also relies on some stereotypes that some might find troubling, such as Farouk a Balkan who is happy to threaten others with bombs. Similarly, the Kerrigan’s are characterised as uncultured working-class whites. Clearly, texts and their depictions are complex. This is what you need to unpack. You need to unpack whether a text that is contentious should be disavowed because of its contents or used as a point of discussion to explore the wider issues that face society.
You need to think about “how language can be used to affirm, ignore, reveal, challenge or disrupt prevailing assumptions and beliefs about themselves, individuals and cultural groups.“ This means you need to consider how groups a perceived or misrepresented in society and how texts can affirm – that is, continue (either positively or negatively) – or challenge the stereotypes that exist about them. Then, in your responses, you need to describe what these “prevailing assumptions” or stereotypes are but also how to challenge them.
In addition, NESA wants you to consider your own changing perspectives and reflect upon these in your responses. How have your perceptions of yourself and others been shaped or challenged by the texts you’ve watched.
“Students study one prescribed text in detail, as well as a range of textual material to explore, analyse and assess the ways in which meaning about individual and community identity, as well as cultural perspectives, is shaped in and through texts.”
As we’ve seen, you’ll look at one core set text (you can see the list below) and other supplementary material. What you want to unpack are the processes of representation at work in the depiction of identity and cultural perspectives. A cultural perspective refers to the way in which the beliefs and customs of various cultures shape the way that that community and its members see the world around them.
“They investigate how textual forms and conventions, as well as language structures and features, are used to communicate information, ideas, values and attitudes which inform and influence perceptions of ourselves and other people and various cultural perspectives.”
This statement describes how you will go about analysing the texts. You’re asked to look at,
These are the means that composers use to convey their meaning. You are required to use these to explore how composers have used these to convey information, ideas, values, and attitudes. Information and ideas are straightforward concepts, but students struggle with values and attitudes, so let’s unpack those in some detail.
As you read and respond to texts you need to tease out these details and describe them. These tensions can inform us about the relationships between communities, and also individuals from within those communities.
“Through reading, viewing and listening, students analyse, assess and critique the specific language features and form of texts. “
This follows on from the previous syllabus point. This statement describes how you will do this (the modes of engagement):
And what you are meant to do:
In short, what you need to do is read/view your texts and engage with them to make a judgement about the text’s meaning and construction. You then have to critically evaluate it in relation to culture and identity in your responses.
“In their responding and composing students develop increasingly complex arguments and express their ideas clearly and cohesively using appropriate register, structure and modality.”
This statement refers to the construction and depth of your responses. As Year 12 students, you need to be able to express you ideas clearly, precisely, and concisely.
A complex argument does not mean complex language or convoluted sentences. Instead, the complexity is meant to be displayed in the richness of your ideas. For example, a complex argument might be:
While Alice Pung describes the difficulty and challenges of growing up Asian in Melbourne, she also projects an identity as a proud Australian in a multicultural society.
This demonstrates complexity as it shows that while Alice Pung had negative experiences, she still identifies as Australian.
In your responses, you need to write in an appropriate manner. This means using the correct:
” Students also experiment with language and form to compose imaginative texts that explore representations of identity and culture, including their own. “
Not only do you have to compose critical responses, but you also need to compose imaginative responses. Part of this Module requires you to compose creative responses about the ideas and issues in the Module. These should be used as an opportunity for you to experiment with language and writing styles so you become a better writer. Some schools may choose to incorporate Module C: The Craft of Writing to assist you to develop your writing skills.
You can learn more about editing and proofing work in this article from our Beginner’s Guide to Acing the HSC for English.
“Students draft, appraise and refine their own texts, applying the conventions of syntax, spelling and grammar appropriately and for particular effects.”
This is an important step in the writing process that most students overlook. The drafting process will help you become a better writer. What this statement is asking you to do is develop a process for composing texts and responses.
Once you’ve developed your ideas and are ready to write a response, you should:
Proofing, editing, and drafting is an essential skill for life. Developing these skills now, before you begin university or trade will ensure that they become habitual and you become a clearer and more effective communicator.
Studying shouldn’t stop because you’re at home! We provide you with clear and structured online lesson videos, quality resources, and forums to ask your Matrix teachers questions and feedback! Learn more about our Matrix+ Online English course now.
You won’t fully understand the meaning of the text on the first reading. Matrix students learn to read and analyse texts following a process that will help them understand a text with depth and insight while developing their ideas.
An important rule is to use the first reading or viewing of the text as an opportunity to familiarise with the text.
Then, use the second and third readings will allow you to develop your ideas and better come to grips with the complexity fo the text and its ideas.
If you want to read learn more about analysing texts and textual analysis, you should read this article from our HSC English Skills Guide.
As you work through your Module A study, you need to ask yourself questions such as:
As an independent and thinking human being, you need to start developing confidence in developing your own ideas about the texts that you’re studying as well as confidence in expressing these perspectives to others!
A good practice to develop is to take notes about the texts as you study them. If you want to learn how to write the best study notes, take a read of our Ultimate Guide to Writing Study Notes.
Consider the questions above, and then write down your interpretations as they develop.
You will then be in a position to reflect upon how your interpretation of the texts developed or how your perspective on the earlier text has been reshaped by the latter one.
There are seven texts that can be studied for Module A. They are:
Poetry (p) or Drama (d)
Nonfiction (nf), film (f) or media (m)
|Texts set for study. (Source: NESA)|
|Text||Key Ideas for Language, Identity and Culture|
|Lawson, Henry, The Penguin Henry Lawson Short Stories (2009)|
|Levy, Andrea, Small Island (2004)|
|Aitken, Adam, Boey, Kim Cheng and Cahill, Michelle (eds), Contemporary Asian Australian Poets (2013) (p)|
|Cobby Eckermann, Ali, Inside my Mother (2015) (p)|
|Lawler, Ray, Summer of the Seventeenth Doll (2012) (d)|
|Shaw, Bernard, Pygmalion (2003), (d)|
|Valentine, Alana, Shafana and Aunt Sarrinah, (2010) (d)|
|Pung, Alice, Unpolished Gem (2006) (nf)|
|Perkins, Rachel, One Night the Moon (2001) (f)|
|Sitch, Rob, The Castle (1997) (f)|
|Janet Merewether, Reindeer in my Saami Heart (2016) (f)|
You can have one internal (that is, in-school) assessment specifically on this Module.
As there is a cap of 4 internal assessments for Year 12 including the Trial HSC Exam, only 3 Modules will have assessments attached to them. This means that you may not have a formal essay assessment for Module A before the HSC Trial exam.
In addition to this limit, there is a cap of one formal written assessment for Year 12.
The potential forms for a Module A: Textual Conversation assessment are:
In your Trial HSC Exam, you will be set an essay question.
During Paper 2 of the HSC, you will have an essay question.
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