This week, Insight writer and EAL teacher Niki Cook gives tips on what you can do to keep in touch with Unit 3 EAL.
It’s July. You’re halfway through Year 12, Unit 3 is over, and you’ve started studying Unit 4. But, as an EAL student, it’s vital that you keep your Unit 3 skills and knowledge fresh in your mind throughout Term 3. Why? Because, at the end of the year, nearly all the content of the exam will come from Unit 3!
So, the challenge for you now is how to keep practising these skills when the classroom focus has moved on. This is especially difficult when you are studying two texts for the comparative task, plus preparing for your oral; therefore, it is crucial that you make good use of the limited revision time that you have.
Below are some strategies to help you maintain your Unit 3 knowledge, while also using your Unit 4 studies to consolidate your skills.
- Identify your strengths and areas for improvement
By now, you have already done assessment tasks similar to each of those you will face in the end-of-year exam. When these tasks were returned to you, it is likely that the first thing you looked at was the mark. Now, however, it is time to look closely at the feedback you were given. For each of the Areas of Study, identify what you do consistently well, and the things that you are less confident with. Then target your revision, so that you focus on the areas for improvement. If you are unsure what you need to work on, ask your teacher now – don’t wait until the end of Unit 4, or you’ll have given up two months of preparation time.
- Familiarise yourself with the exam criteria
The criteria used to mark the writing tasks in the end-of-year exam are different from the ones used for the SACs. Make sure that you are familiar with the exam criteria and what you need to do to move from one level to the next. Ask your teacher to use these criteria to mark any practice pieces that you write.
- Prepare for Section A – Listening to texts
- Complete a listening task each week between now and the exam. Aim for a mixture of exam-style tasks and other spoken texts. You can use TED talks, news programs such as BTN, podcasts, or audio texts included in Insight’s EAL resources – basically, anything that is available in English. Practise listening to English delivered in varying accents, tones and speeds, as well as male and female voices.
- When practising exam-style tasks, identify frequently used question words and phrases so that you are confident with what information you need to provide for the different types of questions. Learn a range of words to describe different types of tone and interactions.
- Prepare for Section B – Analytical interpretation of a text
- This is one area where the content in Unit 4 can help with the exam, as one of the two texts you are comparing in Unit 4 will be an option for Section B. Focus on building detailed notes on that particular text, and develop your understanding of the key themes and ideas. Write practice paragraphs – or essays if you have time – on key themes and ideas specifically within this text, so that you maintain your skills in writing single-text responses.
- Brainstorm and plan essays. Writing an essay a week is often presented as the ideal preparation, but it may not be realistic when you’ve got your Unit 4 studies to focus on; instead, plan an essay each week. Spend 15 minutes interrogating a topic, identifying and defining key words, brainstorming ideas, then planning your contention, topic sentences and key evidence for each argument. When you reach revision time, as long as you’ve brainstormed a range of topics, you’ll find that you’ve already developed arguments around most of the key ideas in the text.
- Prepare for Section C – Argument and persuasive language
- Practise your analytical skills while researching for your oral task. Analyse the articles that you’re using for your own research – identify the contention, main arguments and language devices used.
- Complete exam-style practice tasks. As with Section A, it is important that you develop familiarity with key question words and phrases for the short-answer questions. When writing practice sentences or complete responses, ensure that you not only identify arguments and language devices, but also explain the intended impact of these features on readers.
- Complete all practice tasks under exam conditions
It can be tempting, especially as an EAL student, to do as much work as possible on a computer; it helps you to identify spelling mistakes, you can use the thesaurus, and you can move ideas around easily – all very helpful tools. But it’s important to remember that the end-of-year exam will be completed with pen and paper, so you need to take every opportunity to practise writing by hand. In the exam, Section A will take approximately 35 minutes, which leaves you roughly 140 minutes to complete Sections B and C, or 70 minutes for each section, and five minutes to check your work. Therefore, you need to practise completing the Section B and C tasks in this 70-minute timeframe.
- Start early
Don’t leave your revision to the last minute. Think of Year 12 as being a marathon rather than a sprint – you need to keep a steady pace all the way through, rather than trying to rush everything at the end. Remember the five Ps – Prior Preparation Prevents Poor Performance. The earlier you begin your revision, the more confident you’ll feel when the exam eventually arrives.
Want to start getting ready for the EAL exam? Make sure you purchase our VCE EAL SAC & Exam Guide by Melanie Napthine and Robert Beardwood. Our VCE EAL SAC & Exam Guide provides students with revision strategies and activities to prepare them for the VCE EAL exam. From time management during the exam to proofreading responses, Insight’s VCE EAL SAC & Exam Guide covers all knowledge and skills required for success in the EAL exam.
The VCE EAL Sac & Exam Guide is produced by Insight Publications, an independent Australian educational publisher.