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Advice for Getting Started in English Language

Advice for Getting Started in English Language

I hope that you have all had a good festive season and that you are enjoying your school holidays (whilst also ensuring to have a rest and get your holiday work done). This article will cover a couple of topics, being a bit of generic organisation advice, and then discussing the difference between function and social purpose (although they overlap, a lot).

Organisation advice:

The most successful year 12 students will all give a myriad of differing advice as to how to go about achieving your goals. All of their advice is equally valid, because the best study methods and strategies are the ones that work for you, which is inherently personal. However, you will always hear something along the lines of, “be organised and stay organised.” Organisation is really important for year 12, be that through a rigid study timetable, or other methods such as listing your tasks (school and external) and when they need to be done on a whiteboard, it is crucial that you have a plan to be organised that you can (and will) stick to.

My personal advice is to make a few small purchases from a shop like Officeworks before you start school, to get yourself set up. The first thing I would recommend is a set of desktop draws. These are really good for storing things such as finished exercise books and old SACs, which you do not have an immediate use for, but you will need when it comes to exam revision (example: J.Burrows Desktop File Storage Organiser 5 Drawer Clear | Officeworks). Relatedly, I would also recommend having some kind of hard plastic folder for each of your subjects, which contains the materials you use for that subject (textbook, exercise book, any printed articles you want to discuss, etc.). These are also super useful for organising yourself as it keeps everything you need in one place, you always have all your materials for class, and when you have homework, you know that all your materials are there. These also have the advantage of spending less time at your locker searching for materials (example: J.Burrows Document Box with Handle Clear | Officeworks). Finally, some kind of whiteboard and whiteboard markers. This was probably the most useful thing for me in year 12, and I divided it into 3 sections (not with a saw, I just drew up three sections). One section has a list of what I had occurring on each day that week (work due, footy training, etc), the next was small and just listed my next SAC date for each subject, and the other had what I had going on in each subject (work I’d been given, upcoming assessments, etc), as well as what else I had coming up beyond that week.

Anyway, I hope that helps to give you something to think about, but this is an English Language article, so I should probably give a little bit of advice on that.

Function or social purpose:

You will discus this more in class, so I will be terse, but it is important to be aware of the distinction between the pair. Put simply, function is a fairly surface level analysis of what the writer or speaker is trying to do. For example, functions include to persuade, inform, instruct, or to inquire (gain information), and tends to be the first thing you think of. Sentence types and the context in which the piece arises (usually given in the background information) are often your best guide for these. Conversely, the social purpose analysis is deeper. Social purposes, which are helpfully listed on the study design in both areas of study for unit 3, as they are slightly different for formal and informal language, go beyond the very basic rationale of a text and focus on things like building rapport, addressing face needs, or to encourage innovation and creativity. For example, an advertisement may have the function of persuading you to do or buy something, but it may also have the social purpose of building a sense of solidarity with people dissatisfied with the quality or cost competitor.

To explain this further, I will give a brief example of a little play on words from the Australian Unions, who coined the idiom, “going for a Scomo,” to describe going for a break at work when there is a crisis, and you are needed most (to paraphrase their definition). The function of this pun and idiom is to persuade people not to re-elect Scott Morrison and his government, by highlighting what they perceive to be a deficiency in his leadership. However, the social purpose of this is to both promote linguistic innovation (this generated discussion on Twitter and saw several people use the idiom (I found it because it was briefly trending)), and to promote a sense of solidarity and rapport among those frustrated with Morrison’s leadership, and those who find that characteristic to deficient, which would then make them more receptive to the persuasion of the Australian Unions (that’s the aim at least). Anyway, I hope that you have a good break, and that this article has helped you out.

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