This week, Insight writer and EAL teacher Michael Daniel outlines how to prepare for the EAL Year 12 course.
Welcome to Year 12 English as an Additional Language (EAL)! You’re probably excited, and maybe a bit nervous, about beginning your final year of secondary study. But don’t worry, you’re not alone – many other students are thinking about how they can make an effective start to the year.
Below are a few tips on how to prepare for the exciting challenges ahead.
Building a study routine
Now is the time to develop consistent daily study habits, which will help you when assessment time approaches. Aim to do approximately three hours of study each day (for all subjects – not just EAL) from Monday through to Friday, and approximately eight to ten hours on the weekend. You may choose to do some of this study before school.
Drawing up a weekly study plan for each subject will help you to keep track of what you need to revise. Make sure you write down times when you are not available, and set aside free time so that you are refreshed and relaxed.
It is also a good idea to revise what you have learned after each day’s study. Many students find it useful to spend 15 to 20 minutes at the start of their study session writing out (from memory) the main points they have learned in each subject. Afterwards, they read over their notes, make corrections and add in any details they may have forgotten. Writing out notes like this helps you to remember important points.
You should also aim to read material for the following day’s lessons. As you do this, write down a list of questions or things you are uncertain about. Make sure you follow up on these with your teacher if you need to.
Reading your set texts
If you have not already done so, read (or watch) your first text immediately. When reading a text for the first time, aim to familiarise yourself with the plot or storyline. You should also think about the main characters and themes. While you read, take notes and underline any important quotes or passages.
You should aim to do a second read-through of the text as soon as possible (maybe while you are studying the text in class). Once you know the story, you should make detailed notes about the text, including significant quotes and passages. You may find it useful to organise your notes according to characters and themes.
If you have not already done so, start reading your second and third texts, so that you are familiar with their plots, characters and themes, too.
Organise your reading into manageable sections: for example, one chapter per night. When reading your texts, do not look up every unfamiliar word. Instead, try to guess or work out the meaning of a word from its context. If you cannot do this, check the meaning in a dictionary. Using a print dictionary (either English or bilingual) will help you to practise for when you sit SACs and the end-of-year examination, as online dictionaries are not permitted in these settings.
Developing your analytical skills
In Year 12, you will also work on your analytical skills. In addition to completing the work set by your teacher for this Area of Study, you should develop your skills by regularly reading argumentative and persuasive texts, such as letters to the editor, opinion pieces and feature articles. You should aim to read one persuasive text (even if it is only a short letter to the editor) at least every second day, and practise making notes about a persuasive text at least once a week.
Do not be a passive reader; after reading a persuasive text, write a dot-point summary of the issue, the writer’s contention/point of view and the supporting arguments. You should also try to identify how the author attempts to validate their argument, and the persuasive language they use to do this. Think about how the writer wants the intended readers to feel and think.
Improving your listening skills
The third Area of Study is designed to develop your listening skills. Every time you have a conversation with someone in English, you are practising and developing your listening comprehension. Therefore, it is important that you engage in as many conversations in English as you can, even if you struggle to sometimes to speak or understand the language.
You should also aim to watch television and listen to the radio in English every day. When watching television, you may use subtitles to help you understand the spoken English. One useful strategy to familiarise yourself with radio broadcasts is to listen to the news every day. The news is usually broadcast during the first five minutes of each hour on stations such as ABC Radio National (AM 621 in Melbourne). Try to write dot-point summaries of what you hear.
As Term 1 progresses, aim to listen to an extended radio program to practise your listening skills. The ABC Radio National website (https://www.abc.net.au/radionational/) contains many interesting programs on subjects such as science, music, current affairs, books and philosophy. You may also find programs about subjects you are currently studying.
Lastly, don’t forget to have fun. This year is the result of all of the hard work you’ve done throughout your schooling career, and following the tips above will help you to finish on a strong note.
Need a comprehensive overview of the Year 12 EAL course? Purchase Insight’s EAL Year 12 2nd edition by Melanie Napthine and Michael E Daniel. This 2nd edition of the market-leading EAL Year 12 provides comprehensive coverage of the VCE English as an Additional Language course. The book includes tools, tips, models, word banks and cloze exercises to assist in progressively developing your writing skills, as well as your listening and comprehension abilities.
EAL Year 12 2nd edition is produced by Insight Publications, an independent, Australian educational publisher.
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