hsc english standard module a language identity and culture

HSC English Standard Module A has changed to ‘Language, Identity and Culture’.

The HSC syllabus has been overhauled and HSC English is no exception!

Starting from 2019 all Year 12 English Standard students will be studying the new Module A: Language, Identity and Culture, and we’re going to guide you through it!

Let’s jump in and show you how to ace the new HSC English Standard Module A: Language, Identity and Culture!

What is Module A: Language, Identity and Culture all about?
What will I be assessed on?
Prescribed Texts for Module A: Language, Identity and Culture
How do I get a Band 6 in Module A: Language, Identity and Culture?

What is Module A: Language, Identity & Culture all about?

The module is built on the relationship between who people are, what group of people they come from, and how this is reflected through language.

However, you are expected to understand not only these relationships, but how these aspects are perceived, and how these perceptions are supported or challenged by the text you are studying.

Let’s take a look at the module rubric and break it down to better understand what this module is all about:

hsc english standard module a language identity and culture

Now, that’s a little bit complicated, so let’s break down exactly what you need to be able to do to succeed in Module A into focus questions to guide your study:

In this module, you will learn about the power of language to reflect and change an individual’s and a collective identity (or a culture).

In particular, you will focus on cultural perspectives, that is, how particular groups of people connected by cultural distinguishers such as class, ethnicity, nationhood, or particular experiences, such as immigration, might view the world.

For instance, if you are studying The Castle, you will likely focus on how the film represents a particularly Australian working-class experience, while you analyse how the film reflects and conveys perspectives on home ownership or gender.

While the examination will only be on one text, you will also study a range of other short texts that are relevant to the unit, and explore similar issues to your prescribed text.

For instance, you may read a poem on an immigrant experience, like Peter Skrzynecki’s ‘Migrant Hostel,’ if you are studying Alice Pung’s ‘Unpolished Gem.’

You’ll be looking at how form (type of text, like novel or play) and conventions are used to convey these concepts. A ‘convention’ in this sense is an expectation placed on a particular kind of text: for instance, a climax towards the end of a text is a convention.

There is a focus on ‘values and attitudes’ in the unit, and it’s useful to think about what these are.

A value is the way people think about particular issues: for instance, the cultural value placed on romantic relationships may be high in one culture, and low in another.

Similarly, attitude is about a reaction: the question is not what a cultural thinks about, but what they think about a particular issue.

Your focus will be on looking at how the text itself interacts with prevailing assumptions and beliefs about the people being presented.

For example, Shafana and Aunt Sarrinah is a text about a young Muslim woman and her atheist aunt, and plays with stereotypes of young Muslim woman as submissive and docile, because Shafana is forthright and argues with Aunt Sarrinah because of her fierce conviction in her beliefs.

If you’re studying this text, you’ll want to discuss how this stereotype is addressed and challenged through language.

As with other modules, you will be assessed on how clear, precise, and effective your language is.

‘Register, structure, and modality’ are words used to describe your writing, and essentially mean that your work shows an understanding of the formality of writing for English.

For example, “The start of The Castle might show what Australians think of the differences between boys and girls” would make for a terrible opening to an essay, because it shows little understanding of register through the lack of formality, a poor grasp of structure (it discusses a specific scene at the very beginning), and a low modality (‘might’) when a higher one would work best.

“Within Rob Sitch’s comedy-drama film The Castle (1917), the director both affirms and challenges beliefs about working-class Australians’ views on gender through the use of language” would work as a stronger opening sentence, because it uses the right kind of register and modality, while also being structurally sound.

The more you show your understanding of cultural perceptions and identity, and how they are shown through language, the higher your grades will be.

You will also be expected to write ‘imaginatively,’ meaning you will be producing writing of your own which shows your understanding of how particular cultural groups are represented.

What will I be assessed on?

You can have one internal (that is, in-school) assessment specifically on this Module.

As there is a cap of 4 internal assessments for Year 12 including the Trial HSC exam only 3 modules will have assessments attached to them. This means that you may not have a formal essay assessment for Module A before the HSC Trial Exam.

In addition to this limit, there is a cap of one formal written assessment for Year 12.

Potential forms for a Mod A assessment are :

  •  Essay
  • A multimodal presentation (you must do one throughout the year )
  • An imaginative recreation
  • A combination of the above tasks
In your Trial HSC exam, you will be set an essay question in Paper 2 of the HSC English Exam.

Prescribed Texts for Year 12 Module A: Language Identity and Culture

Here is the list of prescribed text for the module. Each of them focus on aspects of cultural perspectives:

Prescribed TextThemes for Language, Identity and Culture
The Penguin Henry Lawson Short Stories, Henry Lawson

‘The Drover’s Wife’, ‘The Union Buries Its Dead’,
‘Shooting the Moon’, ‘Our Pipes’, ‘The Loaded Dog’
- Class issues
- Home and belonging
- Work and identity
Adam Aitken, Kim Cheng Boey and Michelle Cahill (eds), Contemporary Asian Australian Poets

Merlinda Bobis, ‘This is where it begins’; Miriam Wei Wei Lo, ‘Home’;
Ouyang Yu, ‘New Accents’; Vuong Pham, ‘Mother’; Jaya Savige, ‘Circular Breathing’;
Maureen Ten (Ten Ch’in Ü), ‘Translucent Jade’
- Home and belonging
- Immigration
- Ethnicity and identity
Cobby Eckermann, 'Ali', 'Inside my Mother', ‘Trance’, ‘Unearth’, ‘Oombulgarri’, ‘Eyes’, ‘Leaves’, ‘Key’- Home and belonging
- Ethnicity and identity
- Racism
Ray Lawler, Summer of the Seventeenth Doll- Home and belonging
- Work and identity
- Class issues
Bernard Shaw, Pygmalion- Class issues
- Gender and identity
- Work and identity
Alana Valentine, Shafana and Aunt Sarrinah- Religious identity
- Gender and identity
- Ethnicity and cultural background
Alice Pung, Unpolished Gem- Home and belonging
- Immigration
- Ethnicity and identity
Rachel Perkins, One Night the Moon- Racism
- Ethnicity and cultural background
- Home and belonging
Rob Sitch, The Castle- Working class issues
- Home and belonging
- Immigration
Janet Merewether, Reindeer in my Saami Heart- Home and belonging
- Ethnicity and identity
- Racism

So, how do I get a Band 6 in Year 12 Standard Module A: Language, Identity, and Culture?

Step 1: Develop your Textual Knowledge

Having a solid grasp of the terms used often in English will assist you in how you handle the text, and ensure your composition on the text demonstrates an understanding that goes further than a surface reading.

Step 1: Familiarise yourself with textual elements

[Students] investigate how textual forms and conventions, as language structures and features, are used to communicate information, ideas, values, and attitudes which inform and influence perceptions of ourselves and other people and various cultural perspectives.”

To best unpack how cultural perspectives are presented in a text, you need to understand how textual features and conventions are used. As with other modules, you will analyse textual features (techniques) to analyse your text.

It is likely you will want to focus more on techniques you do not generally discuss, such as slang or languages which are not English.

For a list of textual features, have a read of our list, here!

Step 2: Learn about the form.

This means discussing elements of a form which differentiate it from other kinds of forms — for example, the verse structure of a poem or particular camera angles in a film. Think hard about what your text does that would not be possible to translate into other mediums.

Step 3: Start practising writing analyses of your text

While the way you write analysis will be different depending on the form of your text, it’s important you keep proactive about recording thoughts and ideas — whether it’s by annotating your book of poetry, or recording rough notes as you watch your film, you will want to get into the habit of developing these notes into analyses.

As for how you do that, TEE tables are a great start!

What’s useful about TEE tables is that they by creating them, you’re making yourself think analytically about the text at the same time you’re creating a pool of notes for you to later draw evidence for your arguments from.

This could be done in a number of ways: for instance, you could group them by themes.

If you need some help getting started on your TEE Table for Module B, we’ve got an awesome article to help you out – click here!

Step 2: Show your understanding of your text in writing!

Of course, in order for any of this learning to be useful, you need to learn to be able to write well in order to complete your compositions to satisfaction.

This means you need to develop the ability to write clearly, with specificity, and with a strong understanding of structure.

Step 1: Get a handle on structure.

“[Students] develop increasingly complex arguments and express their ideas clearly and cohesively using appropriate register, structure, and modality.”

There are many ways you can structure your essay and its paragraph, but they are not made equal. While your analysis may be strong, it means nothing if it can’t be read in a clear and cohesive structure.

We recommend the STEEL structure for English essays: Statement, Technique, Example, Effect, and Link.

For more advice on STEEL and writing in general, click here!

Step 2: Practise!

“Students also experiment with language and form to compose imaginative texts that explore representations of identity and culture, including their own.”

This is going to be hard to do, as you’re dealing with new ideas and concepts.

The best way to improve your understanding is to put it into words: the more practise you get in at showing your understanding of language, identity, and culture, the more refined your work will be once it’s time for examination.

Find a bunch of Year 12 Module A: Language, Identity and Culture practice questions in this article!

Step 3: Have your work read by others.

Once you’ve got some writing at length done, and checked over it yourself, have your teachers or peers read over it critically.

Having other people read it is important, as when we read our own work, we tend to overlook our own mistakes and fail to notice our bad writing habits.

However, you can also try reading your work aloud to yourself, which is another way to make sure you’re making sense.

Looking for a tutor to support you in HSC English?

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Anna Dvorak graduated from High School last year and is now studying a Bachelor of Communications, majoring in media, arts & production and journalism, at UTS. Alongside studying, Anna works as an Academic Coach & Mentor at Art of Smart while also doing freelance work. She is very passionate about the art of storytelling and helping people fulfil their potential. In her free time, you’ll find Anna working on her craft, reading, watching Netflix, somewhere outside or catching up on sleep.

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.