As a student, I hated language analysis.
It was my absolute LEAST favourite part of English and I just didn’t enjoy it at all. I found the process of reading long articles which I often vehemently disagreed with boring and dull. I hated not being able to engage with the opinions being put forward in the piece. I didn’t like how formulaic it was- there was no room to move. You either got the contention right, or you didn’t. There wasn’t much room for interpretation- which was my favourite part of English. I loved coming up with what I thought the author was saying, looking at the text, decoding the symbols, noticing recurring motifs, identifying the real purpose that the author had in writing. I never thought anything was too much of a stretch- I once developed an entire queer theory regarding two characters based on the colour of an umbrella (which I still think is 100% legit although I never included it in any of my pieces because, restraint).
Anyway, as I was a good student (obvs), I knew I needed to find a way to make myself like this beast as it would determine 1/3 of my exam and a fair percentage of my Study Score. I had many methods and while it didn’t make me like language analysis (that came later- in my second year of teaching), it certainly helped me through the necessary study which I had to do in order to succeed in the task. Below are 5 things I did which:
A) Made me better at language analysis
B) Made me enjoy it a bit more
- Make like a dentist and drill.
This is a stupid title but deal with it. One thing I found really helpful was to practice timed “drills” of language analysis pieces. One of the things I didn’t like was the process of reading one really long article, opinion piece, editorial or whatever, annotating the crap out of it and then condense my hours (I’m prone to hyperbole) of work to one essay. So, to practice my skills of annotating, and identifying contentions in concise (NOT my strength) sentences I used the Letters to the Editor page of the paper. The Herald Sun is always a good place to start because they’re rarely subtle but The Age is generally more of a mental workout. I would set the timer and try to annotate and identify the contention of each letter on the page before it went off. It depended on how much time I had as to how long I set the timer for but it always provided the competitive aspect of me with something to work towards. It also forced me to be decisive, concise and precise.
- Annoy your family and annotate the ads.
Every ad you see on TV is aiming to persuade you. While watching TV at night with the fam, I would choose at least one ad every break and explain to my family how it was trying to persuade them- or whoever the chosen audience was. This also provided me with practice in visual annotation and also allowed my vocabulary to expand as I could “talk it out” and didn’t have the constriction of writing. It also made me feel like watching TV was totes studying.
- Write sample sentences
I don’t like advising people to write and memorise pieces. In text response it is the EXACT opposite of what you’re meant to do and it RARELY works. However, in Language Analysis, developing templates and sample sentences can really help. I stuck a list of sentence starters which I developed over the year to my shower wall (along with quotes from the various texts I was studying, formulas from maths and definitions from Psychology) meaning that no time was wasted. It wasn’t even really an issue of memorising the exact sentence- it was knowing the right vocabulary and when to use it. This is particularly useful when writing comparatively.
- Cartoon analysis
I actually loved analysing cartoons. I found it so mentally stimulating so therefore, I did it as much as possible. It improved my vocab and my writing as well as mental health and attitude surrounding LA. I would highly recommend, as a starting point for comparative analysis, compare and contrast the way two cartoonists deal with a particular issue. Consider audience, style, technique etc.
- Deload and Detach.
I found it so hard to remove myself from the issue we studied in Year 12. It was about the refugee crisis- one of my major passions and I often struggled not to criticise the arguments of the people who I was analysing. So, I came up with a solution. Have 1,3, 5 minutes to vent- aloud or on paper (NOT IN YOUR SAC)- and then detach from the issue at hand. You’ve had your say. It’s time to get analytical. To not do it at all was just too hard. Luckily, your exam is unlikely to be on anything you actually care about (A Big Watermelon, for instance) so this won’t affect you at all.
I hope you find these as helpful as I did!