Structure of Essential English

Structure of Essential English


Unit 1 focuses on students comprehending and responding to the ideas and information presented in texts drawn from a range of contexts. Students are taught a variety of strategies to assist comprehension. They read, view and listen to texts to connect, interpret, and visualise ideas. They learn how to respond personally and logically to texts, by questioning, using inferential reasoning and determining the importance of content and structure. The unit considers how organisational features of texts help the audience to understand the text. It emphasises the relationships between context, purpose and audience in different language modes and types of texts, and their impact on meaning. Students learn to interact with others in everyday and other contexts. Emphasis is placed on the communication of ideas and information both accurately and imaginatively through a range of modes. Students apply their understanding of language through the creation of texts for different purposes in real or imagined contexts.

Unit 2 focuses on interpreting ideas and arguments in a range of texts and contexts. By analysing text structures and language features and identifying the ideas, arguments and values expressed, students make inferences about the purposes and the intended audiences of texts. Students examine the connections between purpose and structure and how a text’s meaning is influenced by the context in which it is created and received. Students integrate relevant information and ideas from texts to develop their own interpretations. They learn to interact appropriately and persuasively with others in a range of contexts. Analytical and creative skills are developed by focusing on how language selection, imagery, type of text and mode can achieve specific effects. Knowledge and understanding of language and literacy skills are consolidated and demonstrated through the analysis and creation of a range of texts for different purposes, selected from real or imagined contexts.

Unit 3 focuses on exploring different points of view presented in a range of texts and contexts. Students analyse attitudes, text structures and language features to understand a text’s meaning and purpose. They consider how perspectives and values are represented in texts to influence specific audiences. When responding to texts, students reflect on a range of interpretations as they develop their own interpretations. Students learn to articulate reasoned and persuasive arguments and to develop an understanding of purpose and context. When interacting with others, the emphasis is on identifying and understanding differing perspectives. Students learn how to communicate logically, persuasively and imaginatively in a range of different contexts, for different purposes, using a variety of types of texts.

Unit 4 focuses on community, local or global issues and ideas presented in texts and on developing students’ reasoned responses to them. Students develop independent points of view by synthesising information from a range of sources, and analysing how ideas, attitudes and values are represented. The way in which authors use evidence, persuasive techniques and language choices to influence and position audiences is analysed. This unit provides the opportunity for students to discuss and listen to differing perspectives, draw conclusions, negotiate, problem-solve, persuade, as well as engage audiences for a range of purposes and in different contexts. Emphasis is placed on articulating and constructing coherent, logical and sustained arguments and demonstrating an understanding of purpose, audience and context. When creating their own imaginative, analytical and interpretive texts, students are encouraged to consider their intended purpose, their representation of ideas and issues, and audience response.

Organisation of content

Content descriptions in each unit in Essential English are grouped under an organising framework that presents key aspects of learning that underpin each subject. Organisers vary between courses according to the distinctive focus of each subject. The organising framework in Essential English is:

  • Comprehension strategies
  • Language and textual analysis
  • Using information
  • Creating texts.

Organisation of achievement standards

The achievement standards have been organised under two dimensions that underpin key aspects of responding to or creating texts. This structure applies to all subjects in senior secondary English.

Dimension 1 Responding to oral, written and multimodal texts
Dimension 2 Creating oral, written and multimodal texts

Senior secondary achievement standards have been written for each Australian Curriculum senior secondary subject. The achievement standards provide an indication of typical performance at five different levels (corresponding to grades A to E) following the completion of study of senior secondary Australian Curriculum content for a pair of units. They are broad statements of understanding and skills that are best read and understood in conjunction with the relevant unit content. They are structured to reflect key dimensions of the content of the relevant learning area. They will be eventually accompanied by illustrative and annotated samples of student work/ performance/ responses.

The achievement standards will be refined empirically through an analysis of samples of student work and responses to assessment tasks: they cannot be maintained a priori without reference to actual student performance. Inferences can be drawn about the quality of student learning on the basis of observable differences in the extent, complexity, sophistication and generality of the understanding and skills typically demonstrated by students in response to well-designed assessment activities and tasks.

In the short term, achievement standards will inform assessment processes used by curriculum, assessment and certifying authorities for course offerings based on senior secondary Australian Curriculum content.

ACARA has made reference to a common syntax (as a guide, not a rule) in constructing the achievement standards across the learning areas. The common syntax that has guided development is as follows:

  1. Given a specified context (as described in the curriculum content)
  2. With a defined level of consistency/accuracy (the assumption that each level describes what the student does well, competently, independently, consistently)
  3. Students perform a specified action (described through a verb)
  4. In relation to what is valued in the curriculum (specified as the object or subject)
  5. With a defined degree of sophistication, difficulty, complexity (described as an indication of quality)

Terms such as ‘analyse’ and ‘describe’ have been used to specify particular action but these can have everyday meanings that are quite general. ACARA has therefore associated these terms with specific meanings that are defined in the senior secondary achievement standards glossary and used precisely and consistently across subject areas.

The language modes

The processes of listening, speaking, reading, viewing and writing, also known as language modes, are interrelated. Classroom contexts that address particular content descriptions will necessarily draw from more than one of these modes in order to support students’ effective learning. To acknowledge these interrelationships, content descriptions incorporate the processes of listening, speaking, reading, viewing and writing in an integrated and interdependent way.