If I were you… tackling the social, historical and cultural context. [VCE English]

Ah, the old “understanding of the social, historical and cultural context” criterion. Everyone’s favourite. I think I’ve received more questions about this point and how to include it in essays than questions about anything else in my teaching career.

And that’s because it is tricky. It’s a fine line to walk between showing you know the social, historical and cultural context of a text and accidentally changing your wonderful English essay into a historical or sociological exposition. Despite being a history teacher, I also never really enjoyed teaching this bit because I often found that I wasn’t able to go into enough depth and students would rarely do their own extra research to come to a thorough understanding of the time of place that the text was both set and produced in.

Thankfully, VCAA seems to agree and have since REMOVED this pesky requirement from the VCE English and EAL curriculum.

*cue celebration*

HOWEVER…!

Even though it’s no longer explicit part of the criteria it’s still 100% necessary to think about the time and place the text is set and produced in because of a new part of the KEY KNOWLEDGE and SKILLS for the Reading and Creating AOS and the Reading and Comparing AOS.

In these two AOS’s you are required to show an understanding of the audience, purpose and context of different texts and how these three things influence an author.

To address these aspects of the criteria and show an understanding of how they are affected by each other, and how they affect other components of the text, you still need to know those historical, social and cultural components of the text itself and when it was released.

Why?

For the following reasons:

  • To address how the audience comprehends and understands the purpose of a text, you must first know the context of that audience.
  • If a film was written/released during the Cold War, it will have very different influences to a remake of the same film filmed today. This results in different themes coming through to the audience and also, the different author/director will have a different purpose, in part, because their audience is different.

It may have similar ideas or themes, it may have similar character, quotes, shots etc but it WILL be responding to a different audience and have a different purpose. Consider the horrific remake Guess Who with Ashton Kutcher in comparison with the original Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner. Same basic story, vastly different purposes, vastly different audiences, vastly different worlds.

BUT, the fact remains that you need to know how to include this stuff in your essays and the KEY word in this whole messy equation is

PURPOSE.

As I’ve said many times before, you need to be aware of the authorial intent and this needs to shape your piece of work. Authorial intent should be an element of your contention and THIS is where your understanding of the audience, purpose and context can come into play.

So, if we’re wanting to be able to develop contentions with true authorial intent in mind, we need to know the context they’re writing in and for and why they’ve chosen the context they’ve set their work in to achieve their purpose.

It’s also important to know this so we can develop alternate perspectives. To a 1950s housewife, All About Eve is probably extremely feminist and counter cultural. To our eyes now, while it has feminist points and some extremely strong female leads, the final outcome for Margo suggests that the intent of Mankiewicz is not as “girl power” as we may originally think.

BUT AMY, HOW DO I ACTUALLY INCLUDE THIS STUFF IN MY ESSAYS?

Well, lovely student, you will pleased to know that if you go with the idea of the context informing the authorial intent which you are already including in your content, you’re already doing it.

Every time you infer that Perkins is presenting Mabo as a flawed by powerful leader who needs the support of those around him, in order not to glorify the man but instead, the movement you are acknowledging that in her context of 2012, Rachel Perkins is encouraging her audience to step up and be a part of said movement. You’re recognising that this film could be as much about her own father as it is about Eddie Mabo. You’re acknowledging that while Mabo is an Indigenous hero, this film is for a mainly white, middle class, reasonably well educated audience who has the power to change.

And you could include this contextual information explicitly in your introduction as the starting point (instead of starting with something that makes me want to die like “In Rachel Perkins’ 2012 biopic Mabo…”) or as a way to enter into that deeper interpretation. You should also be able to incorporate into your conclusion as you finalise your answer and broaden it out to wider significance.

Throughout your body paragraphs consider using language which leads to contextual inclusion. “Despite audience expectations of women…” “Although the film is set in the 18th century, the authorial context of Cold War paranoia…” “The original audience of the film…” “The contrast between the ancient setting and the modern audience…” “The text, while unfamiliar to a modern audience, explores universal themes- a fact made more obvious through the directors use of modern music and shooting techniques.” This technique will also help you tick the metalanguage box. Two in one! Yessss.

Remember that your essay is ultimately an answer to a question and to truly answer that question, you need to know what has shaped your evidence and answer. If you don’t, it would be like using a scientific study to prove your point about hair removal creams being ineffective without knowing that this scientific study was performed using gorillas as test subjects.

Remember, those who forget their history are doomed to repeat VCE!

Or something like that.

Happy writing!

Amy xx

If I were you… | Easter Holidays!

It’s been building… slowly but surely, you’ve seen it. Hot Cross Buns are becoming more and more prominent, the ads on TV have started to feature terrifying, man size rabbits, and suddenly, eggs are no longer the health foods they were two months ago.

It’s Easter.

And with Easter, comes school holidays!! GLORIOUS. 2 weeks of freedom from the school yard and 2 weeks of being the independent young adults you are soon to become.

You may notice that I have not said that these holidays bring 2 weeks of freedom from school full stop. There should be elements of school in your life for these two weeks. You’re in year 12- there are no total breaks until November. Sorry. But I hardly think I’m the first to say that, so you should be used to it by now.

THAT BEING SAID, I do not expect you to be working like you do at school for the next two weeks. It would be unhealthy, unwise, unproductive and could seriously impact your chances of doing well throughout the year. You need to have a balance. Which is what this blog post is all about. So without further ado, this is what I would be doing if I were you.

5 Things To Do in the Easter Break

  1. Revisit every text on you syllabus (minus the creative text, unless you’re expected to be able to write on it for the exam- many schools are focusing on one text and one text only for the Reading and Creating section of the exam- in my opinion, a wise choice.)
    This means rereading novels, plays, short stories etc and rewatching your film texts. Also, don’t just reread them- reread them with purpose. Go through and highlight the aspects you think will be important. Look for commonalities in the text. Look for language features which are unique or different. Annotate in the margins regarding the authorial intent and how certain passages fit in with the text as a whole. Make quote lists, create character bios, create author bios, create time period bios…
    Or at least just reread each text.
    And for the love of all that is good, if you haven’t read the texts, read them now. Stop reading this and read the texts.
  2. Meet up with friends and discuss the next text you’re studying/last text you studied. Go out for brunch- Melbourne does this well- and discuss quality literature- Melbourne does this better. You don’t have to talk about your text the whole time, but at least engage in what each of you think the text is about and how you came to that opinion. Ask each other what you liked or didn’t about the book and what bits were your favourites and which ones forced you to read page 85 ten times before you understood. By discussing your texts, you’re reinforcing your knowledge and you can enrich each other’s understandings of the text as a whole. Plus, brunch! What can be better?
  3. Write the first draft of your oral presentation AND perform it to a friend. Get them to perform theirs in return and see what you learn from one another and how you can improve. Bonus points if your friend disagrees with your contention. For EXTRA bonus points, write an analysis of the language your friend uses in their oral- sneaky LA practice. See my blog series on the oral here
  4. Maintain a good sleeping pattern. I’m not suggesting you wake up when you would for school- calm down. I am suggesting that you don’t go crazy. Don’t start sleeping at 3am and waking up at 2pm. It will wreak havoc on your body clock and frankly, you don’t have time to adjust to that when school goes back. Wake up before 9-10 each day and don’t go to sleep too late.
  5. Have a day each week where you don’t do anything related to school at all. Consider it a detox day. Go see a movie and have dinner with friends, go up to the mountains and do a bush walk. Go to Bounce and injure yourself so badly you can’t finish your schooling. Go to a museum in the city and learn for the fun of it.

AND ONE MORE THING:

I didn’t count this because you should be doing it every damn day, but

  • WATCH and READ the NEWS. (proper news.)
  • Choose one article to analyse every day.
  • Analyse it. Even if you don’t write an analysis on it, still analyse it.

I hope that was helpful! Have a wonderful break and don’t make yourself sick on all the Easter chocolate you buy on Easter Monday when everything is half price!

 

If I were you… | What to do if you hate Language Analysis

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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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!

Happy studying!

Amy xx

 

If I were you- Navigating the new Year 12 English Exam

The day has finally arrived! Kill the fattened calf- VCAA have released a sample English exam!

This is what English teachers around the world* have been waiting for. At last, something which will tell us what this new study design will look like in examination format.

For sometime, the school I used to teach at has been developing their unit plans with a focus on what we want students to learn by the end- that is, what we would like them to produce. Annoyingly, at least a component of that is based on the assessment they will be completing. While we have had an idea of what will be on the exam in that it will be similar to the SACs, it still wasn’t 100% set in stone.

Now, we have a sample paper. Now we can finally have some certainty in what we tell our students about the exam. That isn’t to say the exam will look identical to the sample paper, but at least we now have more of a guide.

So, this post is to highlight any changes and to let you, as students, know what you need to be keeping in mind as you speed toward October (It’s MARCH, WHAT?!)

Click HERE to see the sample exam

Section A: Text Response/ Analytical Interpretation of a Text

This section is basically a safety blanket. It wasn’t broke, so they didn’t fix it and everyone can breathe a sigh of relief. The questions are the same types that we’re used to (propositional [ie. posing a statement and asking you to discuss this idea], quotation and direct) and the texts are familiar. The only difference between the 2016/2017 exams are that in the 2016 exam students are invited to write in either an analytical or expository fashion whereas in the 2017, you must write analytically. This indicates a stronger focus on the metalanguage and the mechanics of how directors, writers, poets etc develop their intention throughout the text. There should be more how and significantly more why. 

Also important to note- if you choose a collection of short stories or poetry, it is stated that you can no longer base your text on one story or poem- at least 2 pieces from the collection must be discussed. Personally, if you were ever going to just discuss one poem/short story your essay would have been severely below average and frankly, if you only discuss two (ie do the barest of minimums), I wouldn’t be holding out much hope.

Section B: Section B – Writing in Context/Comparative analysis of texts

The new bit! How excitement! This is the bit we were all chomping at the bit for and wow- it’s a biggie.

Let’s start with the instructions:

“Section B requires students to write a comparative analysis of a selected pair of texts in response to one topic (either i. or ii.) on one pair of texts.Your response should analyse how the two texts present ideas and/or issues, and should be supported by close reference to both texts in the pair.

If you choose to write on a multimodal text in Section A, you must not write on a text pair that includes a multimodal text in Section B.

In the answer book, indicate which text pair you have chosen to write on and whether you have chosen to answer i. or ii.

Your response will be assessed according to the assessment criteria set out on page 14 of this book.

Section B is worth one-third of the total marks for the examination.”

Nothing too shocking but again, the focus is on analysis and developing an interpretation regarding the views being presented in the texts. You MUST engage with both texts. You MUST use high quality evidence- quotes, language, visual techniques, structural evidence- throughout. It is not an essay about one text with a paragraph thrown in on the other text at the end. It is balanced and it examines how the texts, when compared, offer the audience a richer perspective on the issues and ideas within.

Notice how they don’t even mention themes- themes are at the bottom of the triangle; too broad, too general. The issues and ideas which stem from those themes are what you need to be focusing on as that is where you will find your authorial intent hiding.

The questions themselves is what we were really interested in! What would they look like? Would they be quote based? Propositional? Direct questions? Discussion based? Explicitly structure focused?

The answer, of course, is all of the above. There are some really familiar types of questions but there are some which at first, seem particularly nasty. Sorry to any WCC kids, but the Black Diggers/Longest Memory ones seem like the examiners were having a wordy day when they wrote them. Once you scratch the surface they’re not so bad… but at first- wow.

Here are some examples:

‘It is individual courage and determination that help bring about change in society.’ Explore points of comparison in the way this issue is dealt with in the two texts.

This question is for The Crucible and Year of Wonders . It’s pretty familiar to most students. A propositional question at its most propositional, it provides an issue and asks you to analyse how the text(s) engage with the text. It’s important that you provide an interpretation- that is, what the author intends the reader to understand about this issue.

This question also specifies that it’s engaging with points of comparison rather than those of contrast- this invites discussion of similarities between the text but you can also engage with differences, certainly. They should just be less of a focus.

 “… I also know how important it is in life, not necessarily to be strong but to feel strong.” (Into the Wild)
“… you are as powerful and strong as you allow yourself to be.” (Tracks)
Compare how the importance of personal strength is explored in these texts.

This question is more unique though at its core are still the fundamentals of a quotation based question- quotes provided as the launch pad, with a guiding issue to engage with. You must discuss and analyse the quotes listed. If they do not feature heavily; if you do not develop your contention and interpretation without significant inclusion of these quotes then it’s going to be challenging to get anything above a 7. The assessors have chosen these quotes for a reason. Don’t ignore them. Place them in context and ENGAGE with them.

“Compare what the two texts suggest about gaining wisdom”

This direct question regarding Bombshells and The Penelopiad is as comforting in its familiarity as it is in its brevity. It is broad without being needlessly general but specific enough to direct your focus without stifling your interpretative skill. You will need to ensure that your contention for this is precise and your essay, well planned. Otherwise you could fall into listing all the parts of the texts where one gains wisdom without coming to a conclusion regarding the purpose of these sections and how they point to the author’s/playwright’s views on wisdom and how one comes to develop it.

“Memory is pain trying to resurrect itself.” (The Longest Memory)
“That’s the thing, the bits left behind, they’ll come out, they must.” (Black Diggers)
Using these quotations as a starting point for a comparison between Black Diggers and The Longest Memory, analyse how, in the texts, memory is simultaneously inescapable and unbearable.

I just wanted to highlight the importance of brevity and being concise. This question could be so much more accessible and interesting. Instead, it’s dense and just annoying to read. Break it down, look for those key words and my point about engaging with the quote is amplified 10 fold here as they specifically direct you to use them as a starting point.

Section C: Analysis of language use/Argument and persuasive language

Generally speaking this is pretty similar and if you’ve had good teachers, then you will have been doing it the way they want you to for years.

While in previous years VCAA have left the instructions at:

Section C requires students to analyse the use of written and visual language

The new exam specifically states:

Section C requires students to write an analysis of the ways in which argument and language are used to persuade others to share a point(s) of view

Notice the difference? You must engage not just with language (which you never should have been doing in the first place) but engage with language and how it works in conjunction with argument to persuade the reader. You must, therefore, engage with structure, style, language, audience, purpose, and progression. If you fail to engage with the way one argument follows another and the reason it does so then you’re not fulfilling the brief. Language refers to verbal, written, visual language- so images and graphs are fair game too.

In the grand scheme of things, not that much has changed, however it’s good to be aware of what has so you know what you’re being assessed on.

Also check out the marking guide:

Criteria Section A will be assessed against the following criteria:

  • knowledge and understanding of the text, and the ideas and issues it explores
  • development of a coherent analysis in response to the topic
  • use of textual evidence to support the interpretation
  • control and effectiveness of language use, as appropriate to the task

Section B will be assessed against the following criteria:

  • knowledge and understanding of both texts, and the ideas and issues they present
  • discussion of meaningful connections, similarities or differences between the texts, in response to the topic
  • use of textual evidence to support the comparative analysis
  • control and effectiveness of language use, as appropriate to the task

Section C will be assessed against the following criteria:

  • understanding of the argument(s) presented and point(s) of view expressed
  • analysis of ways in which language and visual features are used to present an argument and to persuade
  • control and effectiveness of language use, as appropriate to the task

Like I said, nothing majorly surprising or new- but enough of a shift to warrant a re-read.

I hope this has been helpful!

Let me know if there’s anything you want me to go over specifically!

Happy studying!

Amy xx

*Victoria

If I were you… How to structure your oral presentation. [Year 12 English]

Last week, we discussed how one chooses the issue they are intending to develop their persuasive oral around. Today, it’s all about putting it together. This is generalised advice, so please take it with a grain of salt. Consider your own skills and utilise these to your best ability. Some people are naturally hilarious and can deliver a humorous speech effortlessly, shifting between that jovial tone to a more serious persuasive appeal in a way that compels and unsettles an audience effectively. But not everyone can.

In the same way, not everyone is able to deliver a highly specialised and technical speech with lots of stats and figures in a way that is actually engaging. The key to writing a good speech is to find out what works for you and exploit that in your writing. This isn’t the time to test out if you are in fact destined to be a stand up comedian. This is the time to put to use all the skills you’ve been honing over years of oral presentations.

That being said, there are a couple of major no nos when it comes to delivering an oral- at any level.

Do not, under any circumstance, start with

“Hi, my name is Amy and I’m going to be talking about whaling.”

Firstly, your audience (remember how these guys are your focus point- you’re trying to persuade this specific audience) knows your name. You don’t need to introduce yourself. Obviously, this may be different if you’re doing your orals in front of an audience of parents and friends- but even then, this is not the way to introduce yourself. We’ll cover that later.
Secondly, “whaling” is not an issue. There are many issues covered under the broad umbrella term of whaling but whaling in and of itself is not an issue. Nor is gay marriage. Or euthanasia. Or Donald Trump (I mean, he has issues but he’s not an issue). If you must label your issue in the first sentence of your speech (and I do not recommend you do), at least be specific— your issue might be “how Australia should respond to the claims from Sea Shepherd that a Japanese whaling fleet entered Australian waters”. But that sentence is still dull. Don’t start your speech that way.

Do not finish with “and… yeah!”

I don’t think I need to go into why not. It’s not effective. It makes you sound like a 13 year old girl talking about which 1D member is her fave. Which is fine if that’s what you’re talking about but it’s not and it’s not fine in your year 12 oral.

The way you start and finish your speech is vitally important because that is what people remember. They may not remember all the statistics and facts you’ve laid out but if you bore them, they’ll remember that.

So, if that’s what NOT to do, what then should you do??

Well, there are a few guide lines which I like to use. These can be summed up in the form of a very simple acronym that anyone can remember!

HICCUP.

The key to a good speech is HICCUP.

That is:

Hook
This is where you grab your audience’s attention. Where you stand up and reveal something to your audience that they don’t know or haven’t heard before. Where you make them care about what you’re talking about and want to know more.

One way I recommend starting your speech is with an anecdote. A story about someone directly affected by the issue you’ll be highlighting. This could be a true story. It could be funny. It could be devastating. It could be personal or it could be global. You might ask the audience to place themselves in that person’s shoes— although, this has been done a lot and can be done poorly.

NB: I wouldn’t recommend using the “imagine you’re…” format if you’re talking about animals. It’s not particularly effective as it’s not very relatable to human experience and especially if you’re talking about something like animal testing, you don’t want people thinking about one of the alternatives to animal testing- testing on humans- in a negative light. It will not help your persuasive cause.

Another way of “hooking” your audience may be by shocking them with stats and facts. Another is by appealing to them on a personal level. All of these things point towards one main goal:

                CREATING A NEED.

If you create a need which your audience wants fulfilled, they will be invested in the rest of your speech. They will therefore listen to your speech in order to find out how they can     meet that need.

Introduction

The introduction is where you explain what your issue is. You need to show that you have a deep understanding of the topic and also an assured sense that what you’re persuading your audience of is right beyond doubt. This is the time to explain any background information behind your issue which your audience needs to be aware of. It’s the time to explain what a plebiscite is. It’s the time to explain that euthanasia has nothing to do with Singaporean teens. But please don’t just read out the Wikipedia article related to your topic- it’s boring. Keep it relevant and tight. You have a time limit.

The second part of the introduction is you establishing your argument. It relates to how you wrote your hook and how you intend to progress through the evidence and sub arguments. Are you going to focus on establishing your issue as a crisis of compassion or as pure logic? Are you going to be aggressive or gentle? What are you going to target in your specific audience- what will they care about and how will you use that to your advantage?

Content

At this point, all your work in setting up the need and your argument comes to the fore. This is where you outline your arguments and explain the reasons why you are correct and the only acceptable response from your audience is the one you are offering.

I would recommend having no more than 3 main points in your oral. Any more and it will be too long. Any less and it will seem like your argument is unsupported and will therefore be unconvincing. There are studies which I could go into about why the number 3 works but just trust me. It’s the best amount of arguments.

For each argument you must have evidence to support it. This can be concrete evidence like facts and stats, or it can be anecdotal evidence. Just remember who your audience is and which pieces of evidence will be the most effective for them. Ensure your evidence is supporting your argument, not the other way around. There’s nothing duller than a list of statistics and it will seem like you don’t really understand the issue, you’ve just read some information about it. By starting with an argument and backing it up with evidence, it ensures that you’re considering both aspects.

The key thing to consider here is have I met the need which I set up in the hook? If you told me a story about how sad it is that our young people can’t find jobs, have you told me what should be done to make sure “Sally” can now get meaningful work? If not, my need is left unmet and I am therefore unpersuaded by your speech.

Conclusion

Finally, it’s time to conclude. This is where you bring it back to your audience and what you want their response to be. Are you looking for personal active or passive agreeance? Do you want them to sign a petition? Change their own behaviour? OR, do you just want them to nod along? Agree with you? Shake their heads at the same things you do? Potentially change their vote at the next election? Either is fine but if it is the former, you need to tell them what to do and BRIEFLY, revisit why. Remind them of the consequences if they don’t. Similarly, remind them of the consequences if they don’t believe the way you want them to. Finish STRONG. Finish with a statement of fact that cannot be refuted. Finish the way you want your speech to remembered. Finish with something that will leave the audience thinking.

NB: Finishing by questioning the audience is sometimes effective but can be overdone and a bit predictable. Be careful and see how it sounds when you’re practising. 

Understanding

This is key. Know your issue back to front. I shouldn’t be able to learn more about your issue from an hour of casual googling. I should be able to ask you questions about stakeholders, key points, the historical background and the various opinions on it and you should be able to generally address these. Obviously, no one is expecting you to know everything but I certainly need you to be well versed in the issue you choose.

Presentation/Passion

Make sure you’re passionate about your issue, or at least make sure you can pretend that you’re passionate about it. Practice makes perfect and your use of voice, body language and eye contact is key to convincing me to care as much as you do about negative gearing. Good luck.

Hopefully this HICCUP structure will help your speech go off without one. It’s just a rough guide but I think it’s a good one. Just remember the cardinal rules of public speaking:

  • Fake it til you make it
  • Practise makes perfect
  • That audience in their underwear trick doesn’t work and it’s super weird if your audience are your teachers. Just… done.

Next week, we’ll look at the Statement of Intention and what you should include in it to make sure you get the maximum marks possible.

Happy Speaking!