The VCE English course can be surprisingly tough, but students can get ahead by knowing what to look for and how to approach the topic. One area that many students struggle with is language analysis – but it doesn’t have to be hard! Many students use our skilled VCE English Tutors for help!
In this guide, we explore what it takes to score a top mark in VCE Language Analysis so you can ace the exam.
What is Language Analysis?
Language Analysis (also known as Analysing Argument, Argument Analysis, and an array of other names) is the most distinctive of the three VCE English Course sections. Unlike the Text Response and Comparative sections, the Language Analysis element of the course focuses on unseen texts (or ‘cold material’). This is perhaps the most daunting part of these exams, since students often worry about dealing with texts that they’ve never seen before.
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In simple terms, students sitting VCE Language Analysis are tasked with analysing the persuasive techniques deployed by the author of a piece of writing. This will generally be an opinion piece, a political campaign ad, or something similar that expresses an opinion rather than giving a more balanced view of a topic.
What do examiners look for in Language Analysis answers?
Regardless of the text that you’re analysing, the VCE examiners are looking for broadly the same things from your Language Analysis answer.
Firstly, you’ll be expected to understand the arguments and points of view expressed by the author. This is important because your entire analysis will be based around your understanding of the point they’re trying to make, and so getting this wrong could lead the rest of your essay in the wrong direction. The answer, of course, is to read the text very carefully and to think about its context. If it’s a political advert, try to put yourself in the shoes of a voter who the writer is trying to persuade. Conversely, for an opinion piece, think about the issues surrounding the topic to gain a better understanding of what the writer is trying to communicate. You don’t need to be an expert on the topic, you just need to get a basic grasp of what’s being said!
Secondly, you’ll need to be able to effectively analyse the ways in which language and visual features are used to persuade readers and to make the argument. Identifying and critically analysing the techniques a writer uses to get their point across is the primary focus of the Language Analysis section of VCE, and so you need to be ready to pick apart what’s happening in the text. From the use of rhetorical language through to questions and statistics, try to pick out what the writer is saying, explain how the technique has been deployed to convince readers, and look at whether their approach is convincing or effective given the context of the topic.
Finally, as with all VCE English exams, you need to communicate clearly and effectively. Examiners spend all day reading and grading essays, so the last thing you want is for them to be distracted from your great ideas by spelling errors and spurious punctuation points. By making sure that your writing is clear and unambiguous, you’ll stand a much better chance of getting a top grade.
Key persuasive techniques to look out for
There are lots of ways for writers to convince readers that their point of view is the right one. This is what Language Analysis is all about, and the more persuasive language techniques you know about, the better you’ll be at answering these questions. To give you an idea of the kinds of techniques we’re talking about, here’s a summary of how writers try to compel their readers.
Repetition, Repetition, Repetition. This one is fairly self-explanatory, and it’s something that you can easily look out for in a text. When a writer is trying to bring you around to their way of thinking, they may repeat the most important points several times. Where it gets a little more tricky, however, is when the same idea is expressed in a number of different ways. You should be looking not only for repeated words, but repeated ideas that may have been rephrased. Repetition is a great way to embed your ideas into readers’ heads, and it also serves as a way of bringing the argument back around to the key issue being discussed.
Because. It may seem simple, but explaining the reasons why something is right or wrong can be very powerful indeed. People don’t generally like to be told what to think, but if a writer explains the reasons why their perspective is the correct one, readers are far more likely to agree – even if they don’t completely understand the logic. Look out for explanatory passages and because sections – since these are the backbone of any decent argument.
Rhetorical Questions. By asking a rhetorical question, writers can prompt readers to think more deeply about their own views on a topic. It’s a way to subtly emphasize a point – particularly when the reader already knows the answer. Simply put, rhetorical questions provide a way for writers to engage with readers – bringing them around to the idea of an argument in the process.
There are lots of other techniques writers use, too. From inclusive language and expert opinion, through to the use of repetition, alliteration, exaggeration, and generalisation, you need to keep your eyes peeled when reading Language Analysis texts.
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Armed with the information we’ve set out in this guide, you’ll be ready to start performing better in VCE English Language Analysis questions. But if you’re still unsure, or feel like you could benefit from extra guidance, why not get some help from our grade-busting tutors?
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