HSC English Standard Module A is changing to ‘Contemporary Possibilities’
The HSC curriculum is being overhauled and English is no exception! Year 11 students in 2018 will be learning a brand new English syllabus, and we want to guide you through the changes and help you get a Band 6 in Year 11 English Standard Module A: Contemporary Possibilities!
The NSW Education Standards Authority is replacing the ‘Experiences Through Language’ module with the new Module A: “Contemporary Possibilities”. The syllabus containing the new Year 11 English modules are located here. Students will be studying Contemporary Possibilities for Year 11 English Module A from 2018 onwards.
What exactly is changing for English Standard Module A?
Communication technologies and texts.
While at first glance at the NESA website, Contemporary Possibilities may not seem too different from previous modules, there are a number of important changes.
First is the use of ‘communication technologies’ within the text. This word choice is important because it signals the diversity of texts within the module – there will be less engagement with literary texts in this module compared to other.
As with previous years, there are no set texts for Year Eleven, including Contemporary Possibilities. It will be up to your school to set the texts you will study.
Changes to number and values of assessment tasks.
Secondly, NESA has set firmer rules about how schools can assess you in HSC English:
- There should be THREE assessment tasks set in Year 11
- Each task can only weigh between 20-40%
- Schools can only set ONE formal exam during the year
This is good news, because it means the number and type of assessments that students across NSW are given are relatively similar. In other words, this means there will be less variation in assessments between schools.
For assessment in Contemporary Possibilities, students will likely be creating a piece of multimodal media in order to analyse a text they have studied in class, alongside a chosen related multimodal text. In particular, they will be focusing on how the form’s features allows it convey meanings beyond what was possible before.
For instance, you might have to do a vlog on how BBC’s Sherlock used social media in order to continue the story, and compare the implications of its modern context compared to the original short stories by Arthur Conan Doyle.
So, what is Module A: ‘Contemporary Possibilities’ all about?
‘Contemporary’ means the time we’re living in right now and ‘possibilities’ refers to the new options for creators generated by new technologies, such as the Internet. ‘Contemporary Possibilities’ also works both ways, meaning that not only will the module look at how these new technologies allow new ways of creating texts, but also new ways to respond to them, too.
Rather than looking at the ways that experiences are represented through distinctive voices or the distinctively visual, the new Module A focuses particularly on the process of engaging with meaning.
There’s a lot of information in the Module description, so let’s break down what you need to be able to do:
1. Respond to Multimedia, Multimodal and Nonlinear Texts
students extend knowledge, understanding and appreciation of the ways that different communication technologies shape the ways that we read, navigate, understand and respond to multimedia, multimodal and nonlinear texts
This is a long-winded way of saying you’ll be exploring a diverse array of texts to examine how they convey meaning and impact readers.
What exactly is a diverse array of texts?
Good question! In this module, ‘texts’ means a lot more than books and films. This could include websites, apps, poems, or videos. The ‘contemporary possibilities’ are endless (haha).
For example, ‘nonlinear’ texts means texts that aren’t straightforward. This could mean a text that allows you to engage with its parts in any order you want. ‘Multimodal’ refers to any text that engages with an audience in more than one ways.
For instance, film is an example of a multimodal textual medium, because it conveys information not only through the visual, but through sound.
Another example would be a phone application, which uses visual communication, audio communication, and linguistic communication, this is also an example of a nonlinear text.
In this new module, there is also a focus on how new technologies allow for the texts to convey meaning in other mediums than their original medium. Meaning that new text forms and technologies allow for a text to be communicated in more than one medium.
For example, a composer of a film not only uses the film to convey meaning, but can use the medium of social media such as Facebook and Youtube to make accounts from the characters’ perspectives.
This is how a composer might use more than one medium to convey the meaning of a text. Using more than one medium will also change the response of an audience to a text.
Step 1: Ask your teachers what texts you’ll be looking at and find them!
Ideally you will have read, watched or at least looked at your texts before you start Module A. If not, make sure you take a look as soon as possible! You should be at least familiar with the basics of your texts before you visit them in class.
It would be a good idea to start looking at different examples of multimodal texts, and familiarise yourself with how their form determines their meaning.
Step 2: Get searching for related texts and familiarise yourself with the relevant technologies.
Firstly, read our amazing article on finding the perfect related text. Then… read your related text/s!
If you’re unsure or need help, you can ask your teacher for advice on which texts would work well. In particular, look for texts which use features that would not be possible without modern technologies. A good example of this is SBS’s ‘The Boat’ online adaptation.
In addition, it would be good to find out what technologies your assessment will require early, to ensure you can get access it, and know how to use it.
2. Conduct a Close Study of Selected Texts
students develop a deeper appreciation and understanding of the power of communication technologies to reach a broad audience for a range of purposes and the significance of this mode of communication in a global world
Through this module you’ll be exploring how a composer controls and shapes the way the audience responds to a text.
How does a composer control and shape the way an audience responds to a text?
Composers do this by using aural, language and visual devices to communicate their meaning to the responder.
However, context will play a large part in doing well in this module. The context of both the composer and the responder changes the way meaning of a text is interpreted.
Context is also important because changes in context involve changes in technology. If there is a change in technology, there are new opportunities for composers to produce and convey meaning and therefore different ways of creating texts and to examine such texts.
Step 1: Get acquainted with literary, aural and visual techniques
To conduct a close study of a text and to understand how and why a composer composes in a certain way, you need to understand your devices and techniques!
Step 2: Get started on your TEE Tables
Once you’ve brushed up on your techniques, it’s time to apply that knowledge to your texts!
Creating a TEE Table is the best way to develop a ‘bank’ of examples of ways composers create meaning in their texts. This will serve as part of your study notes for English AND make it easier for you to find examples in your texts to back up your arguments in essays and analysis.
If you need some help getting started on your TEE Table for Module A, we’ve got an awesome article to help you out – click here!
3. Compose your own Multimodal and Digital Texts
through their responding and composing students gain increasing confidence in experimenting with a range of language and visual forms and features to individually or collaboratively design and create their own multimodal or digital texts
Using the knowledge you’ve gained from closely studying texts, the next step is to compose your own texts! In this module however, composing your own texts might mean more than simply writing a short creative story.
Because the focus of the module is on a diverse range of text types, you can theoretically be asked to compose any text type as an assessment.
Step 1: Practice, practice, practice!
The key to good writing in Contemporary Possibilities is practice. But not only practicing your creative writing and short stories, but writing in a variety of nonlinear, multimodal text types.
If you need some help getting started, check out our ultimate guide to Band 6 Creative Writing here! Now, this series was focused on writing for the HSC Area of Study ‘Discovery’, but the nuts and bolts of creative writing is all there!
If you want to check out a Band 6 grade Creative Writing story, written by the teacher who literally wrote the textbook, check out our free creative sample for some tips and inspiration!
The new ‘Contemporary Possibilities’ module replaces the ‘Experiences Through Language’ module.
Rather than purely literary texts, the Contemporary Possibilities extends the study of texts to multimodal texts that engage in a number of ways.
Assessment will concentrate on student’s skills to both interpret how new options are available to creators due to new technologies, as well as how new ways of responding are possible in our current era.
Are you looking for a tutor to help you ace Contemporary Possibilities?
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Cameron Croese completed his HSC in 2013, earning first place in his cohort in Advanced English, Extension English 1, and Extension English 2. Privately tutoring throughout his university career as an English and Education student, he enjoys helping his students at Art of Smart understand, write well on, and enjoy their texts, as well as assisting with other aspects of school life. He is a contributing editor to his student magazine, in which he has had reviews, feature articles, and short stories published.