English Language 3 and 4


In English Language we explore the ways in which language is used by individuals and groups and how it reflects our thinking, values and identity. Students learn to use metalinguistic tools to understand and analyse language use, variation and change. We use the subsystems of language (phonology, lexicology and morphology, syntax, semantics and discourse) as a framework for discussion and analysis.

A summary of the Outcomes that students need to achieve gives an overview of what is involved:

  • students should be able to identify and analyse distinctive features of formal and informal language in spoken and written texts;
  • students should be able to investigate and analyse varieties of Australian English and attitudes towards them and to analyse how people’s choice of language reflects and constructs their identities.

Who is it for?

English Language is not an “easy” option for your Year 12 English subject. It is a linguistics-based course that requires the learning and application of metalinguistic tools to a range of texts.

If you are interested in how people use language in the widest possible range of texts, if you enjoy observing language in use, if you like discussing the different purposes to which language is put, then this subject could be for you.

Watch Stephen Fry’s Planet Word series. It is made for a general audience and has a British perspective but gives an idea of some of the areas covered in the course.

What do you do?

Activities you will engage in include:

  • studying transcripts of conversations and discussing the language features
  • learning the phonetic alphabet in order to better describe different accents and other phonetic features of spoken English
  • keeping a cuttings journal of current examples relevant to the course themes (for use in essay writing).

What skills do you need?

A capacity to express your ideas clearly and concisely in written form is an advantage. A willingness to develop this capacity during the year is required.

What skills do you develop?

You will develop skills including:

  • analysing formal and informal written and spoken texts
  • essay writing related to the overarching themes of the course.




You must have access to the internet in order to access this course. All weekly work will be completed and submitted online.

The purchase of the following textbooks will also be required: Insight Exam Guide, third edition (2015) Kirsten Fox and Get Ahead in Grammar (2007) Anne Quill & Anne Townsend

Recording equipment for recording spoken conversations and interviews.

Headphones and microphone for online lessons.

You need 6 to 8 hours a week for your English Language study.

Things to think about

English Language Units 1 and 2 provide an introduction to the subsystems, metalanguage and features of spoken and written texts. In recognition of the fact that many of our students have not done Units 1 and 2, we offer a “crash course”’ in some of the basics in weeks 1 and 2. More is covered throughout the year, especially in Unit 3. While some students may relish this new challenge, others may find it a steep learning curve.

Assessment is by a combination of short answer tasks, extended analyses or commentaries and essay writing. Students need to be prepared to develop their skills in all these areas.

Participation in online lessons and attendance at seminars or excursions is highly recommended to fully develop your potential as a “language scientist”.

Things you can do now

Check out the VCAA Study Design (or summary of Study Design).

Read past exams and examination reports especially for the current Study Design (2016-2020).

See the Insight Exam Guide 3rd edition (on booklist). Develop familiarity with the overarching themes and start to keep a cuttings journal/scrapbook of resources.

Go to the VCAA website for more information about this subject.





Things to have a look at

Australian accents explained