VCE English and EAL 2023: Exploring Argument

This is the fifth in a series of posts on the upcoming 2023 VCE English and EAL Study Design. For the first four posts, see the links at the end.

In the current Study Design, Analysing and Presenting Argument (APA) dominates 50% of the outcomes for Units 1 and 2. In Unit 1 “students focus on the analysis and construction of texts that attempt to influence an audience. Students read a range of texts that attempt to position audiences in a variety of ways. They explore the use of language for persuasive effect and the structure and presentation of argument. They consider different types of persuasive language, including written, spoken, and visual, and combinations of these, and how language is used to position the reader”

https://www.vcaa.vic.edu.au/Documents/vce/english/2016EnglishEALSD.pdf

By the end of the Area of Study, students should “be able to analyse how argument and persuasive language can be used to position audiences, and create their own texts intended to position audiences.” Similarly, in Unit 2 Area of Study 2 in order to meet the outcome students should “be able to identify and analyse how argument and persuasive language are used in text/s that attempt to influence an audience, and create a text which presents a point of view.”

The differences between U1 and U2 in the current Study Design are slight. Currently there is a requirement that “no more than one” assessment task in Unit 1 is in oral form (for English students) and that typically means a persuasive oral presentation, mirroring the later School Assessed Coursework in Unit 4. In the updated SD, the oral moves to an outcome in Unit 2.

From APA to Exploring Argument

So what’s the difference in the new SD?

Firstly, “argument” has been removed from Unit 1 altogether, making room for the Personal Response for AoS1 Reading and Exploring Texts and the new AoS2 Crafting Texts.

In Unit 2, replacing APA, is the new Exploring Texts Area of Study. Here’s a comparison of the Key Knowledge and Skills between the two:

Current Study Design2023-2027 Study Design
Key knowledge
• an understanding of the arguments presented in texts
• the ways authors construct arguments to position audiences, including through reason and logic, and the
persuasive use of language
• the features of texts used by authors to position audiences
• the conventions of discussion and debate such as active listening, checking for understanding and questioning
• the features for analysis and creation of texts that present an argument: structure, conventions and language,
including relevant metalanguage
• the conventions of referencing for the acknowledgement of sources
• the conventions of spelling, punctuation and syntax of Standard Australian English.

Key skills
• identify and analyse
– the intent and logical development of an argument
– bias in the presentation of information and ideas
– features used by the writers and creators of texts to position or persuade an audience to share a point of view
– the impact of texts on audiences by considering the similarities and differences between texts
– the way in which persuasive language use and argument complement one another and interact to position
the reader
• apply the conventions of discussion and debate
• use textual evidence appropriately to support analytical responses
• develop sound arguments using logic and reasoning, and detect bias and faulty reasoning in the arguments
of others
• conduct research to support the development of arguments on particular issues and acknowledge sources
accurately and appropriately where relevant
• select evidence to support particular positions
• plan analytical responses and texts that present an argument, taking account of the purpose, context and audience
in determining the selected content and approach
• develop, clarify and critique ideas presented in their own and others’ arguments using discussion and writing
• draft, review, edit and refine analytical responses and texts that present an argument, crafting for persuasion
and using feedback gained from individual reflection, and peer and teacher comments
• apply the conventions of spelling, punctuation and syntax of Standard Australian English accurately and appropriately.
Key knowledge
• an understanding of contention and supporting arguments, including:
– sequence and structure
– use of supporting evidence
– language
– techniques and strategies
• the role of visuals in supporting argument
• the ways authors employ arguments to position intended audiences
• the elements of audio and audio visual texts that contribute to a persuasive effect including intonation, volume, pace, pausing and stress
• the impact of context on the presentation of arguments
• the conventions of discussion and debate such as active listening and questioning
• the features of an analytical response to texts that present an argument
• the features of a point of view text for oral presentation
• the conventions of syntax, punctuation and spelling of Standard Australian English.

Key skills
• summarise the key points in arguments using skills such as note-taking and annotation
• identify, explore and apply:
– the intent and logical development of contention and supporting arguments
– the evidence used by authors to support arguments
– the strategies used by authors to position an intended audience
– the language used by authors to position an intended audience
– the visuals used to position an audience
– the ways an audience is positioned
– the elements of spoken language that can contribute to persuasion including intonation, volume, pace, pausing and stress
• apply the conventions of discussion and debate
• use appropriate evidence to support analytical writing
• extend individual capacity to use language confidently
• acquire and apply relevant metalanguage
• develop an analysis of persuasive texts
• draft, review, edit and refine analytical writing using feedback gained from individual reflection, and peer and teacher feedback
• develop sound and sequential argument, including appropriate use of evidence and language
• plan, draft and refine a point of view text for oral presentation
• apply the conventions of syntax, punctuation and spelling of Standard Australian English.
Comparison of the Key Knowledge and Skills in the current and upcoming SD

Notable differences

Starting with the Key Knowledge, there is a shift from the broad “argument” to the specifics of contention, an elaboration on supporting arguments, and more detail on audio and visual texts. All of this reflects a continued effort to shift this Area of Study away from the “shopping list” of persuasive techniques – a process that began with the previous update of the Study Design.

The Key Skills are also more specific and reflect the updated assessment options:

  • a set of annotated persuasive texts (including visual texts) that identify arguments, vocabulary, text structures and language features
  • an analysis of the use of argument and persuasive language and techniques in text(s)
  • an oral presentation of a point of view text.

Previously, Unit 2 Area of Study 2 was the same analytical essay found in Year 12 and the examination. Now, the options have broadened to allow for both an oral presentation of a point of view, or a folio of annotated texts. This change again reflects the emphasis on process that we’ve seen in the other Areas of Study: spending more time on the technical aspects of language analysis before jumping right into the essay response.

As you can see the changes to this Area of Study aren’t as dramatic as some of the others: There’s a reduction of time spent analysing argument across Units 1 and 2, a continued refinement of what VCAA is looking for from the outcome, and the inclusion of an extra assessment option in the annotated folio.

I’ll be sending a PDF of mentor texts on the idea of ‘Futures’ to my mailing list on the run up to the 2023 Study Design. This will include suggestions for texts, annotated examples, and ideas about how to approach the idea in the classroom. Sign up to the mailing list to stay up to date:

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One response to “VCE English and EAL 2023: Exploring Argument”

  1. […] VCE English and EAL 2023: Exploring Argument (Unit 2 AoS2) […]

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