Tips on Preparing for Your Informal Language SAC

December 13, 2020Klein E

The first SAC you'll be completed in 2017 will be informal language. The type of SAC that you will complete will vary by school, with some doing short answer questions, some completing analytical commentaries, and some essays. You will need to ask your teacher what the SAC format will be for your very first EL assessment! If the teacher is unable to tell you (they really should though), then you should ask a past student what their first SAC was a last resort.

Know your metalanguage!

This is a given, not just for SAC 1, but SAC 2, 3, 4 and so forth - and the exam! You must go into your assessment knowing the metalanguage that could be assessed and also how to apply it. Knowing is one part, conceptually understanding is another. This comes through practice, so in the holidays make sure create a list with definitions. Sadly some students leave it to the last minute and this will cause unnecessary stress!

Know what informal actually means!

Always remember that informal language encourages intimacy, solidarity and a social connection with the audience/speakers. Informal language is also generally more efficient in terms of saving time, however, at times informal language can be more ambiguous. To help you with this process, I have listed some informal language features below.

Main Features of Informal Texts (Spoken and Written):

  • Slang terms
  • Colloquialisms
  • Phrasal verbs (verb + preposition)
  • Contractions
  • Abbreviations/Acronyms/Initialisms
  • Ellipsis
  • Swearing/colourful language
  • Discourse particles (like, you know)
  • Interrogative tags
  • Diminutives
  • Simple and compound sentence structure – lack of complex/compound-complex sentences
  • Inference
  • Interrogative sentence types
  • Non-standard orthography
  • Capitalisation/Bolding/Italics
  • Exclamation marks
  • Features of spoken discourse
  • The use of deictic expressions
  • The use of personal pronouns (e.g. ‘I’, ‘We’)
  • The use of active sentence structure as opposed to passive
  • Beginning a sentence with a conjunction
  • Emoticons
  • Neologisms
  • Idioms
  • Assimilation
  • Elision
  • Reduction
  • Shortenings

Before your first informal language SAC, I would recommend you create a list of these on your computer with definition and examples. Always remember that state WHY this informal feature has been used in a given context! For example, a speaker in a friendship group may use swearing to build social rapport with his/her interlocutors and to create social solidarity.

Practice, practice, practice!

Once you know the SAC format, you must then practice, practice and then practice some more! Get your work checked by your teacher and read sample A+ responses to ensure you're on the right track.

Be linguistically aware! And ask why.

  • Read newspapers. Don't just absorb the content, try and look for subtleties in text and ask yourself why the author would write in the way he/she does. Take photos on your phone of interesting articles that stand out to you.
  • Listen to your friends talk. No, this doesn't mean be a stalker. This means just listen and in your mind consciously make notes as to why he/she would be speaking like that. For example, is your friend making use of those frequently used discourse particles? Is your friend saying 'like, 'well', 'you know', 'sorted' and 'kinda' a lot? If so, ask yourself WHY?
  • Seeing new terms being used on Facebook by your friends? You may be witnessing the creation of new slang!
  • Seen an advertisement on TV or a billboard? Ask why language play has been used there
  • If you're doing an essay SAC, make sure you compile some useful quotes - again found in the media, through linguistics or just through your own observations in the world.

So, simply put, next time you come across any form of language - be it in the media, with friends, on notices etc - ask you, "WHY"? Then think.

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Klein E

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