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What level of English should I do? ESL, Standard, Advanced, Extension? (1 Viewer)

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hawkrider

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Hi guys,

So I don't know if this has been done before, but I wanted to post something for the incoming Year 11's, in particular choosing what English course you want to do. Hopefully this will give you an idea on what level of English suits you. Note that this is based on my personal experience, the research conducted and also looking into depth at the syllabus.

Introduction

There are essentially 5 levels of English:

1. English as a Second Language (ESL)
2. Standard English
3. Advanced English
4. English Extension 1
5. English Extension 2

English as a Second Language (ESL)

Syllabus

This course is for any student who has (a)been in an overseas school OR (b) been in an Australian school (where English was the teaching language) for 5 years or less.

What it involves?

You do the same Area of Study as everyone else, but the exam is different to the Standard/Advanced English AOS. Namely, you only have unseen texts for analysis and an essay response (i.e. no creative writing section). You also study TWO prescribed texts (not one) for the AOS.

You then do TWO Modules (A and B) which are specific to the ESL syllabus:

  • Module A: you study Australian voices/visions in texts
  • Module B: you study texts in real-life situations, such as reports, letters, applications

Why do it?

Most ESL students don’t really have a 'choice' to do ESL – in that, their English level is not high enough for them to consider Standard/Advanced English. However, for some students, their English is actually better than most Standard and some Advanced English students! I assisted a student like this and wondered why they didn’t just do Advanced English. However, they excelled in ESL and attained a high ATAR. So, really, there is no incentive to join Advanced English (particularly as they were ranking 1st in their school for ESL).

ESL also suits students, who are not interested in the 'literature'-style studies of English. In particular, Module B is an example of the practicality of the ESL syllabus which focuses more on English as used in life rather than in prose and poems.

Standard English

Syllabus

This course is for “students to become proficient in English to enhance their personal, social and vocational lives. These courses provide students with the opportunity to become confident and effective communicators and to enjoy the breadth and variety of English texts.”

What it involves?

You do the Area of Study, which is the same exam for Advanced English. Then you do THREE Modules (A, B and C) which are specific to the Standard English syllabus.

  • Mod A: you study how composers create unique voices or visions in their texts
  • Mod B: you study one text in detail, focusing on its unique features
  • Mod C: you study texts in relation to a particular topic (similar to the AOS)

In total, you study 4 prescribed texts (1 for AOS, 1 for Mod A, 1 for Mod B, 1 for Mod C). You need related texts for AOS, Mod A and Mod C.

Why do it?

Whilst I recommend doing Advanced English over Standard English (see below), I have had some students who clearly can only do Standard English. This may be you if:

  • You hate English
  • You have trouble with spelling and sentence construction
  • You have no idea how to write an essay

Advanced English

Syllabus

This course is for “students to become critical and sophisticated users of English in order to enhance their personal, social and vocational lives. These courses provide students who have a particular interest and ability in the subject with challenging learning experiences and opportunities to enjoy the breadth and variety of English texts…”

What it involves?

You do the Area of Study, which is the same exam for Standard English. Then you do THREE Modules (A, B and C) which are specific to the Advanced English syllabus.

  • Mod A: you compare compare texts
  • Mod B: you study one text in detail and critically, focusing on your own interpretation
  • Mod C: you study how representation affects meaning

In total, you study 5 prescribed texts (1 for AOS, 2 for Mod A, 1 for Mod B, 1 for Mod C). You need related texts for AOS and Mod C.

Why do it?

If you are given the choice between Standard English and Advanced English, choose Advanced. Usually, your teacher will be able to tell you whether you are good enough to do Advanced and if given the opportunity, I strongly recommend that you take it for the following reasons:

  • Advanced English takes the same amount of time/work as Standard English (it is not necessarily harder)
  • In Advanced English, you are more likely to get better through simply osmosis (surrounded by other, smarter Advanced English students)
  • In Advanced English, teachers tend to push and challenge you to get better marks (rather than catering to the lowest denominator)

English Extension 1

Syllabus

This course is for – “students who are accomplished, analytical and imaginative in their use of English to refine their understanding and appreciation of the cultural roles and significance of texts. The courses are designed for students with a desire to pursue a specialised study of English.”

What it involves?

You choose to study 1 Module (A, B, or C) and within that only 1 Elective. Unlike ESL, Standard and Advanced, there is only ONE exam. The exam requires you to write 1 creative and 1 essay response (25 marks each) for that 1 Module-Elective.

This is of course in addition to the Advanced English content and exams (ie, you will do 3 English exams: AOS, Advanced Modules, Extension 1).

You study 3 prescribed texts. You ultimately choose 2 prescribed texts and 2 related texts for your essay response.

Why do it?

In comparison to 2 Unit English (Standard or Advanced), Extension 1 isn’t actually that much harder. In fact, those who did the course found it easier! You only have ONE Module-Elective (compared to the AOS and Modules A, B and C in 2 Unit). Essentially, you only have to prepare/study ONE creative and ONE essay (compared to ONE creative, FOUR essays in 2 Unit). So, no, I would not say it is particularly time consuming or difficult. With the whole year spent on the same Module-Elective, you actually understand it in a lot more depth and have the opportunity to improve.

You should do Extension 1, if you are good at Advanced English and are interested in doing more of the same (except a bit more challenging/interesting).

An added benefit is that doing Extension 1 is likely to improve your Advanced English marks – simply by further practising your English skills.

English Extension 2

Syllabus

This course lets “students develop a sustained composition, and document and reflect on this process“.

What it involves?

You independently develop a Major Work in a particular area that you are interested in. This can be creative, critical, personal etc. You can use any medium, such as prose, poetry, web, essay etc.

You document your progress in a journal, which is submitted with your Major Work.

This is again, all in addition to Advanced English and Extension 1 (ie, you will have 3 English exams and 1 Major Work due in total).

Why do it?

Only do Extension 2 if you are interested in creating a Major Work. Although only 1 Unit, this subject takes a lot of time and effort – you really need the interest and passion to keep going. You need to be interested in writing and creating an English Major Work, and be able to do the necessary research to support it. It's also noted that everyone's MW varies by length and that you also need to write a reflection statement. It is handed in and completed in August, so then you don't have to worry lingering around actual HSC time.

The English Standard and Advanced Dilemma

Deciding whether to take Standard or Advanced English is one of the hardest decision to make.

English Standard AND Advanced are scaled in the exact same way. When someone says "Don't do standard because it has very poor scaling", it is ENTIRELY wrong.

If 2 identical RAW marks in Standard English and Advanced English will scale to the same scaled mark.

Standard and Advanced English are scaled as one course despite what others say.

But now you will ask "Why is it on the list of scaled means, Advanced and Standard english are different when you said they are scaled the same?"

The answer to this is simple. They are reported separately. i.e. They combine the candidature of English Standard and Advanced and scale it as a single subject, they are then separated and the scaled mean is determined and reported. It just so happens the scaled mean of Standard is typically lower than Advanced. This doesn't mean it scaled any better or worse than Advanced.

Is it possible to get a band 6 in Standard English?

Yes it is very much possible. Most teachers and students would say the board of studies doesn't allow students to get band 6. This is untrue, and has been proved in 2013 where 0.41% attained a band 6.

But why so little people? It just so happens the students undertaking Standard aren't academically strong enough to attain that band.

FAQ

I'm confused with the notion that your best 2 units of English has to count. What does that mean?

The reason why your best 2 units of English has to count is because the subject is compulsory to do. Because of this, it is imperative that you do really well in the course if you want to get a great ATAR. It is also worth noting that if you do 4U only the extensions may count if you are doing 12 units.

What's the Area of Study?

The Area of Study provides a structure through which students explore how texts, context and experience shape the understanding of a concept. An assumption underlying the Area of Study is that students come to understand ideas through their own experience and through the texts they compose and to which they respond. This understanding, in turn, affects perceptions of self and the world providing students with the contexts from which they explore and come to conclusions about the process of meaning.
 
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strawberrye

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This guide is pretty extensive:) Good work!, however, there are a few points that I think can be different from what your outline seems to imply-but then, English is a subjective subject so I just want to supplement this awesome guide with a bit of personal experience to add in alternate viewpoints:)
When you said that Advanced English is not necessarily harder than Standard English-this can be slightly misleading, simply because Advanced English involves the study of one Shakespearan text in any of the modules, while in Standard you don't need to study Shakespeare at all-so for those who dislike Shakespearan texts and struggle to understand it-they will find Advanced English significantly harder than Standard and also probably significantly less enjoyable.

Another point is that in English Extension One-although theoretically it is slightly easier in the aspect you have an entire year to study one module as opposed to learning four different modules in Advanced English, however, this can be challenging as in Extension One English, like Extension two English, significant amount of self-study is expected, and you actually need to do almost as much work as in Advanced to excel as a result of this significant amount of independent learning and study-you are expected to grasp the module in a lot more depth and your analysis has to be much deeper than in Advanced . However, this experience can vary depending on whether you have a dedicated English teacher or not.

A lot of my friends who did English extension one did not see any significant improvement in their English Advanced course, unlike studying 2 unit maths and extension one maths where there is overlap of concepts, so they complement each other. The notion that you improve by practicing your English skills can be similarly applied to other humanities subject such as modern and ancient history, geography, economics, and even in Visual Arts essays... The point being English Extension one is a completely different course to Advanced-the expectation is slightly different, and how you write is also slightly different as well, as such people might be able to study/investigate a subject they were interested in in great detail in English Extension One-hence they will do well, but if they still haven't developed that interest in their four modules in Advanced English, having English skills will not motivate them to do deeper analysis and thus their Advanced marks will be unlikely to see an improvement. People can simply further practice their English skills by practising more essays, so it shouldn't be a major consideration in choosing English Extension One

I would say that English Extension One is time consuming and in many aspects, it is harder than Advanced English because of the significant amount of research and self-study expected to grasp the module completely-so for those considering to choose English Extension One, only choose it if you are genuinely interested in the modules your school tends to do and you have a genuine passion for English and want some challenging, independent study. Don't choose it with the false belief it will NECESSARILY improve your Advanced English marks or just because it is a high scaling subject. I know various people who have dropped out because of that false belief. Being passionate as well as putting in persistent effort in what you study is a critical key to success in English, regardless of what English course you choose to do.

But other than that, absolutely awesome guide-wonderful knowledge clearly laid out which I wished I had when I was in year 10 choosing what English course I wanted to do:) Thanks for spending the time to post such an extensive and informative guide:)
 
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sirable1

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Unless you score high in Standard (at least B5), you should be doing Advanced.

Even ESL scales better than Standard
 

hawkrider

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Unless you score high in Standard (at least B5), you should be doing Advanced.

Even ESL scales better than Standard
Of course, I advocate people to pick Advanced, simply because the alignment is better. I think in last years HSC, 12% in advanced got band 6, whereas for standard only 0.51% did.
 
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hawkrider

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Hey guys,

I have given the guide a bit of a revision. I added a section in on the scaling confusion between Standard and Advanced and I've inserted a FAQ section as well. I also fixed up the structure a bit so that it is more easy to read and follow. Hopefully, these revisions make the guide much more helpful and useful.

Also, thanks LHS and AZ for editing my guide!
 
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Crobat

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Solid stuff mate!

Just to add on to straweberrye's point about Extension One, some people will find that Extension One is easier than Advanced while others excel in Advanced and struggle in Extension One. This is because Extension One relies on content and elaboration, explaining things more conceptually than strict technical analysis allows (as is required by Advanced), and people who are conceptual thinkers rather than formulaic thinkers will excel in Ext One. In Advanced you can also get away with understanding the gist of the module, but Extension One is a bit more difficult as you need to fully understand the Module, the contexts behind the authors/directors/composers, as well as keeping a balance of technical analysis that genuinely reflects the points made by the Module. It'll be a longer essay naturally (a good one will go for about 1400-1800), which means the information in that essay will necessarily be more important and markers will be looking out for waffle to fill in the time.
 

hawkrider

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Solid stuff mate!

Just to add on to straweberrye's point about Extension One, some people will find that Extension One is easier than Advanced while others excel in Advanced and struggle in Extension One. This is because Extension One relies on content and elaboration, explaining things more conceptually than strict technical analysis allows (as is required by Advanced), and people who are conceptual thinkers rather than formulaic thinkers will excel in Ext One. In Advanced you can also get away with understanding the gist of the module, but Extension One is a bit more difficult as you need to fully understand the Module, the contexts behind the authors/directors/composers, as well as keeping a balance of technical analysis that genuinely reflects the points made by the Module. It'll be a longer essay naturally (a good one will go for about 1400-1800), which means the information in that essay will necessarily be more important and markers will be looking out for waffle to fill in the time.
Thanks Crobat! Tbh, I kinda wish I had chosen English extension 1 along with my units cause I heard it helps you develop critical thinking. But oh well - at least I chose Advanced.

Sent from my Nexus 4 using Tapatalk
 

rumbleroar

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Great guide :)

Would also like to point out, I find EE1 quite time consuming, as there is a lot of reading to do (I think more for Mod B - ways of thinking) because you need to fully understand the context of your authors and texts in order to grasp their "ways of thinking". I wouldn't necessarily say EE1 improves adv, I do better in EE1 than adv (going by last year's marks), as the courses are completely different. EE1 is a lot more focused on ideas and how these ideas emerge from texts, whilst adv is very dry in comparison, because you don't have that rich conceptual discussion about it within your essays and stuff.

I would recommend those proficient in Adv pick up EE1 as well :)
 

rumbleroar

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Also with EE2, I would like to elaborate on your point, only go into it if you really, really, really like creating something. So many of my friends dropped out before the first assessment because they found it way too time consuming. It's a great extension (I regret not doing it, to an extent), but only do it if you're truly passionate (or have amazing time management skills - one of my friends is planning on finishing her entire major work in the holidays and just edit in class and stuff, and she's on 13u!). It should be said that any subjects with major works are incredibly intensive, both emotionally and physically, so only do them if you're ready to put in the hard yards.
 

strawberrye

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Also with EE2, I would like to elaborate on your point, only go into it if you really, really, really like creating something. So many of my friends dropped out before the first assessment because they found it way too time consuming. It's a great extension (I regret not doing it, to an extent), but only do it if you're truly passionate (or have amazing time management skills - one of my friends is planning on finishing her entire major work in the holidays and just edit in class and stuff, and she's on 13u!). It should be said that any subjects with major works are incredibly intensive, both emotionally and physically, so only do them if you're ready to put in the hard yards.
I concur with this piece of advice:)
 

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Hi everyone! I should've said this earlier, but for those who don't know already, the AOS is going to change in 2015. From 2009-2014 it was Belonging and now it'll be Discovery. Many of you may be wondering, "What if I don't understand the gist of it? How am I going to cope without the resources since they'll be none at the start of implementation?" Don't stress - you need to realise that Belonging is a malleable and interchanging concept of the human condition. In other words, it can be adapted to Discovery.

Good luck with your studies!
 

strawberrye

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Hi everyone! I should've said this earlier, but for those who don't know already, the AOS is going to change in 2015. From 2009-2014 it was Belonging and now it'll be Discovery. Many of you may be wondering, "What if I don't understand the gist of it? How am I going to cope without the resources since they'll be none at the start of implementation?" Don't stress - you need to realise that Belonging is a malleable and interchanging concept of the human condition. In other words, it can be adapted to Discovery.

Good luck with your studies!
Very good point. http://www.boardofstudies.nsw.edu.au/syllabus_hsc/pdf_doc/english-annotations-2015-20.pdf -this document also has some pretty good information on discovery and the prescribed texts within it as well:)
 

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the real difference between std and adv is aligning..
 

medicinestudent

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hell i'm thinking of dropping from advanced to standard because i'm just passing in the prelim course... personally the reason i chose advanced in the first place is because i hated the texts in standard and i still can't stand them...

also my teacher is a harsh marker and she only gave one B to an entire class of very capable english students (the rest got C's and D's). I've been in their classes from junior years and they've been getting A's but now they're getting C's. However, the people in the other classes have teachers whom mark easy and most people in those classes got B's. This is not fair marking at all and it really annoys me so I'm dropping the course.

for people currently doing standard in the HSC course, are the texts alright?
 

BLIT2014

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hell i'm thinking of dropping from advanced to standard because i'm just passing in the prelim course... personally the reason i chose advanced in the first place is because i hated the texts in standard and i still can't stand them...

also my teacher is a harsh marker and she only gave one B to an entire class of very capable english students (the rest got C's and D's). I've been in their classes from junior years and they've been getting A's but now they're getting C's. However, the people in the other classes have teachers whom mark easy and most people in those classes got B's. This is not fair marking at all and it really annoys me so I'm dropping the course.

for people currently doing standard in the HSC course, are the texts alright?
Try transferring to a different class?

It is not worth dropping to Standard English.
 

medicinestudent

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Try transferring to a different class?

It is not worth dropping to Standard English.
nah my teacher is head teacher and i asked him but he didn't let me and now he hates me.

oh well.

i'm hoping once people drop advanced at the end of prelims, the classes will shuffle and one class will collapse
 
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