What is an English Language essay?


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VCE Study Tips

English Language




VCE Study Tips

English Language




English Language

What is an English Language essay?

Harshdeep Kaur

February 1, 2018

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From year 7-10 the traditional essays we have written have had an introduction, three body paragraphs and a conclusion in which we write about characters, plot points and themes. Hence, it is understandable that upon entering English Language in year 11 or 12, it can be difficult to grasp a hold of how to write an essay without characters, plots or themes. To be precise, the requirement in an English Language essay is to ‘use key linguistic concepts and metalanguage appropriately to discuss/analyse/investigate…in an objective and systematic way” (English Language Study Design).

What does this mean?

Essentially, in section C of the exam, you are required to present a discussion of a given idea. The word ‘discussion’ is defined as ‘a conversation or debate about a specific topic.’ In this sense, your essay is effectively a written conversation which needs to display an understanding of both sides of the topic.

In saying that, it is still important to form a contention, such as ‘indeed non-standard varieties are more acceptable in speaking than in writing in the Australian context’ however in arguing this contention, you must to explore both sides to show the examiner your understanding of language in Australian society.

The overarching idea of the essay is presented to you in the form of a prompt. For example, in the 2016 VCAA exam, a possible essay prompt given was: “In Australia today, variations from the standard tends to be more acceptable in speaking than in writing.”

In this prompt, the idea to be discussed is standard vs. non-standard Australian English. The main idea or topic forms an umbrella under which the essay is formed. This is the foundation of your essay. Each main argument will relate to this topic. In this example, standard vs non-standard Australian English is a topic from which an array of sub-topics can be extracted, the choice of which is to your discretion.

The sub-topics you choose to delve into will depend on your preferences and strengths. You may choose to discuss online-speak, ethnolects or Australian slang in relation to non-standard English or legalese, political jargon in relation to standard English.

Regardless of the choice of sub-topic, each body paragraph must explicitly link to three things; the prompt, the topic sentence and the contention. This is the criteria for your discussion. Ensuring clear links to these three will assure the examiner that you have confidence in the material you are discussing.

Your body paragraphs should be used to show the examiner how the ideas you have chosen to talk about relate to the prompt provided. Here it is necessary to use a combination of contemporary media examples, personal examples and linguist quotes as a means to prove the link between your chosen paragraph idea, your contention and the prompt. Try to find the most relevant examples which clearly demonstrate your line of thinking to the examiner. You don’t want to give them a reason to question the arguments you choose to present.

Because of this, it is also important to be wary of this so that your essay flows in an orderly, sequential manner. Each idea presented within a paragraph and across the essay itself should follow a pathway; one leading into another. Use the ending of each body paragraph to come back to your essay prompt and reiterate your contention. This ensures you stay on topic the examiner can clearly visualize your understanding of your topic.

In the end, your job in your essay is to present a discussion of a given prompt; an understanding of both sides. Use examples and explanations to show your examiner that you comprehend how the prompt can be debated.

Helpful Hints:

  1. Writing the very first sentence of your essay can be difficult. Sometimes, to get yourself into the flow of writing, it can be helpful to integrate a linguistic quote into your first sentence. This also helps solidify your contention. For example:
  • “One’s idiolect, particularly lexical choices and accent can be strongly indicative of their unique identity and the social groups to which they belong; it is the most natural badge of symbol of public and private identity (David Crystal)”

  1. Your topic sentence for each paragraph should contain a link to the essay prompt, to the topic of your paragraph and to your contention. A link to all three elements should be identifiable. Below is an example of a topic sentence for the given essay prompt. “The language we use is the best indicator of who we are, individually, socially and culturally. Discuss.”
  • Ethnolects are a quintessential indicator of cultural identity as they are strongly identifiable by their unique phonological characteristics.
  • This topic sentence shows a clear identification of the topic of the paragraph (ethnolects), a connection with the prompt, (cultural belonging) and a contention, (ethnolects are indeed indicative of cultural identity)

  1. Rather than introducing linguist quotes with expressions such as “in the words of…” or “as said by…” using linguist quotes discretely where they are integrated as part of the sentence will improve the flow of your essay. Consider this example.
  • “The use of the interjectory ‘reh’ expresses the cultural identity individuals associate themselves with and is part of the language they use as ‘a means to an end of understanding who [they] are and what society is like (David Crystal).”

  1. Not all your contemporary essay examples need to come from news articles or social media. Students can often get caught up doing aimless research trying to find examples through research which really isn’t all that necessary. You should try to find examples of language use in every-day life. Perhaps consider other school subjects you study and the jargon you used within these subjects. You can quite easily discuss this use of language in your essays. Here is an example of a student using the metalanguage from VCE Accounting as an example for their essay.
  • Jargon and taboo language are often used to express social identity as they are demonstrative of social groups one wishes to belong to. Jargon terms such as, ‘equity,’ ‘profit margin’, ‘cash flow statement,’ ‘debt ratio’ and ‘accrued’ belong to the financial and accounting semantic field. Their use suggests the individual is knowledgeable in business and finance and further suggests they are likely to be working in the business sector. The use of jargon in one’s vernacular can therefore provide hints of the individual’s social identity and is significant to their individual identity.

Link to David Crystal interviews to pick out quotes and ideas for your essays:



Link to Kate Burridge on TED Talk talking about Euphemisms; a good source for examples of euphemisms and how they are used in society. This can be used as foundation for a paragraph in your essays:


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The Importance Of English Language English Language Essay


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Disclaimer: This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers. You can view samples of our professional work here .

Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of UK Essays.

Keywords: importance of english language, english language usage

The usage of English Language has become significant in our daily life. It is a fact that English Language is the language that is used globally in the world nowadays. Many countries’ governments practise English Language as the formal language to carry out their jobs and to complete the paper works. In conjunction with the global trend, the English Language society of SMK Pandan Indah has planned some activities to be carried out in the school compound since the beginning of the year. This is implemented so that the students of the school can be exposed to the importance of English Language.

Aims and Objectives of Programmes

With the support from school administration, the English Language society manages to carry out the English programmes for all the students to participate in. There are few aims for the programmes to be held. First of all, the English Language society wishes to fully make English Language to be visible in the school compound. To make the English Language to be visible in the school compound, five essential skills are needed to be promoted among the students, that are reading, listening, speaking, writing and grammar. All the students must master all these skills to avoid being eliminated from the global trend.

Besides, the second aim English Language society conducts English programmes is to make use of English as the medium of communication. Nowadays, english has become vividly important in the world. Many countries use English as the mean in carrying out the administration work. Being able to speak in English is not a strange anymore. Students who are not able to communicate English with people will be eliminated from the global trend. As we all know, the world nowadays becomes very competitive and undergoing rapid changes. Students must be able to improve themselves from time to time. Mastering English Language is unavoidable anymore.

To support with the aims being set, English Language society has planned two activities to be carried out throughout the year. The first programme is “learn a phrase a day”. The objective is to boost up students’ confidence by standing up on the stage to speak in English. This activity will provide a medium for students to practise their English publicly. Through this programme, the students are also able to improve their pronunciation of English. Students of new era are weak in pronunciating the correct way of English words. From this activity, students are expected to learn the correct pronunciation of English words. Moreover, students will have the chances to boost up own confidence when presenting in English in front of the audience.

The second programme is “English Fortnight”. In that two weeks, many activities will be organised by English Language society. This is to promote the use of English when participating in competitions.The students will be exposed to the importance of English Language through a series of activities being carried out. They should not only focus on their ‘mother tongue’ respectively, but to learn other languages as well. Through the activities, students are expected to equip themselves with fluent English as it will be very helpful to them in the future.

Duration of Programmes

At the beginning of the year, English Language society officiated the “learn a phrase a day” activity at the assembly. An opening ceremony was held on 10th of January, 2011. This activity was being carried out throughout the whole year. Everyday before assembly commences, the activity was held on. It took up around 5 to 10 minutes for every presentation.

For “English Fortnight”, it was held at the midst of the year, which was around the end of April to the beginning of May. The opening ceremony for “English Forthnight” was held on 25th of April, 2011. The programme lasted for two weeks consecutively. A series of activities was planned to be organised for all the students to participate in.

Both programmes were carried out during schooling hours. For morning session, the programmes were held on from 7.20am until 1.20pm for Mondays to Thursdays, and from 7.20am until 12.45pm for every Friday. Meanwhile, for afternoon session of schooling, it is from 1.20pm until 6.45pm for every Monday and Friday, and for Fridays, the schooling hours are from 2.20pm until 6.45pm.

Target Group

Both programmes were being carried out with its specific target group. For the programme “Learn a phrase a day”, students of form four were required to take turn to present at the daily assembly. For afternoon session, students of form one and form two needed to send representatives for each class to give presentations on the stage everyday. Students of form three and form five were excluded as they were informed by the school administration to concentrate fully on government examinations, that were PMR and SPM.

Meanwhile, “English Fortnight” was planned to involve every student of each form. There were numerous activities that took place for specific form of students to join. For examples, essay writing competition was held and targeted on form three and form five students. Choir singing competition was held for every form of students. Form one and form two’s students were involved in poem recitation competition. Impromptu speech competition was organised targeted for form four’s students.

Report on implementation of Programmes

Learn A Phrase A Day

“Learn a phrase a day” was the major programme that was held according to the school policy. The programme was subdivided in to two parts. On Mondays, students selected were required to deliver speeches in English. For Tuesdays to Fridays, students were required to choose a phrase to present on the stage. The phrase could be selected from idioms, vocabularies, and so on. One week before the presentation of phrases, English teachers would guide the classes to elect few students for the presentation. For every presentation, two students would be selected. One would hold a manilla card written with the phrases of the day while the other one would explain the phrases to all the students in the assembly. The meaning, and the example are needed to be provided by the presenter so that all the students would get to understand the phrases better.

For every Monday, one student would be needed for the presentation only and the respective student was required to present a speech. The speeches presented by the students must be conducted in English Language.

The mean to select students for the presentations was on the teachers’ discretion. They could either choose the representatives by themselves, or being democratic by organising the voting session. In the morning session, form four students were involved in it only. Hence, every of the students in form four had to take turn to present on the stage according to the ascending order of the class name lists. Excuses such as sore throat, stomachache, or headache were not being accepted for them to skip the presentations, unless they could have the medical certificate verified from the doctors as the proves. Nevertheless, they could exchange the position for presentation with their classmates, with the base that the particular student agreed with the exchange.

For form one and form two’s students, the programme started from students of form two. This was because form two’s students had adapted to the new studying environment after studying in the school for one year. Form one’s students were still undergoing a period to adapt to the new studying environment and new rules and regulations. Their session started after March of 2011.

The school’s top administration would become the panel of judges to evaluate the performance of each presenter. The marks were allocated based on the pronunciation of the phrases, the content of the presentation, and the combination of gesture. The marks were collected to be accumulated until the end of the year. It was not an individual competition, but a class competition. Classes accumulated with the highest marks would be awarded with the RM500 and hamper worth RM200. Eventually, 4K class won the champion away for morning session while for afternoon session, 1S defeated other classes and took the prizes away.

English Fortnight

“English Fortnight” was the second major programme organised by English Language society. It was held from 25th of April, 2011 until 6th of May, 2011. A series of activities and competitions were planned accordingly.

The first activity of the programme was choir singing competition. Every form of students were required to take part in it. Every class had to prepare a song to perform. The selection of songs was on their discretion, but with one criteria that all the songs must be performed in English. One week was given to them for the preparation work. The competition held on 3rd of May, 2011 in the school hall. The performance will be judged by few criteria, that were the combination of gesture, the rhythms of the songs and the content of the songs. Use of costumes was optional too. They could prepare some equipment to aid in their performance. Each class had to finish their performance within 8 minutes. There were 3 judges responsible for the adjudication, that were Mr. Herman, Ms. Wong, and Ms Geraldine. The competition went well as scheduled. Each of class performed well and the judges had the hard time to choose the winners. For the morning session, 4K emerged as the champion with the song titled “Love is Colour Blind”. The first runner up went to 3S with their song “You Raise Me Up”. The second runner up went to 5K, who sang “Hero”. Meanwhile, 2B won the champion away for the afternoon session. 1M won the first runner up while third place went to 1K. The champion received cash RM 200 and hamper worth RM100. The first runner up would receive cash RM 150 and hamper worth RM50 while cash RM 100 was given to the second runner up. The champion teams were required to perform once again on the stage during the closing ceremony.

Essay writing competition was another activity being held on. The competition targeted on form three and form five’s students. Each class had to send two representatives to take part in the competition. The competition was held in the language room. The title of the essay writing was “The role of English Language in the future”. All the participants were given one and a half hour to complete the essay. The essay must be at least 350 words. Mr Illamaran and Ms Toh were the judges to mark the essays. The winners name list was announced during closing ceremony. The champion would receive hamper worth RM100. The first runner up would have a hamper worth RM50 while the second runner up would receive hamper RM30. Eventually, Cedric Koh from class 5K emerged as the champion and Mohd Hashim Hafiz won the first runner up place. The master pieces of them were pasted on the board and were uploaded into the school buletins.

Besides, there was an impromptu speech competition which was specially for form four’s students. Each class had to send a representative to participate the competition. The competition was carried out on 28th of April, 2011. On that day, all the participants were needed to gather at language room at 9am sharp. Participants were given the topics on the spot. They chose the topics by drawing from a box prepared. 5 minutes was given to them to prepare after they getting their topics respectively. Marks will be allocated on the combination of gesture, the content, the fluency of the speech, and the vocabularies. Ms Jamielah and Mr. Lim were the judges to evaluate the participants’ performances. Some gave up as the topics they got were too difficult and they were not able to think critically for the speech. Meanwhile, some students managed to perform well and they spoke in English fluently. Both panels had the hard time choosing the final winners for the competition. Damian Phun from class 5K emerged as the champion with the score 91 out of 100 marks. He took away hamper worth RM200 and cash RM200. Both judges were stunned with his impressive performance when his turn to deliver the speech.

For the poem recitation competition, it took place in the school hall. Every class in the afternoon session were required to have a representative to participate in the competition. It was the last activity carried out in English Fortnight. Each participant was allowed to recite the poem of their choice within 5 minutes. Mr. Ong and Ms Lim were the panels to evaluate the performance of all the participants. They allocated the marks for the pronunciation of the grammars, the gesture, and the rhythm of the poem. All the participants prepared well as they managed to recite the poems with different rhythms. All the students applaused for their great performances to show their supports. The champion of the competition was Caryn Chang from class 2S with the poem entitled “Road Not Taken”. She took away cash RM200 and hamper worth RM200. Derek Lim for class 1M scored the first runner up place and take away cash RM100 and hamper worth RM100. His poem was “Mama”. The second runner up went to Audrey Lim from class 2B with the poem titled “Loneliness”.

Strengths and Weaknesses of Programmes

The implementation of both programmes were a success. All the activities went well smoothly. To have a better performance in organising programmes in the future, English Language society had numerous meetings to discuss about the progress of the programmes and to analyse both programmes.

For the strengths analysed, English Language society appreciated for teachers and students’ full cooperation. All the teachers had played their part according to the organising committees set. Any arguments incurred the teachers would calm down first before discussing in order to find out the solutions. The students were cooperative too as most of them were active in participating in the programmes designed. They were not shy to take part in it, vice versa, they volunteered themselves to represent the class respectively in the competitions.

Through the programmes planned by the English Language society, all the students were given a chance to expose to the use of English. They had the opportunity to practise English in the daily life. Some of the students realised the importance of English and began to speak in English when communicating with students or even teachers. As the saying goes “Rome was not built in one day”, learning English is not simple, and we should figure out the different ways to improve English respectively. Through writings, students would be able to increase the vocabularies. The writing skills would be increased too. Through speaking, students would be confidence to communicate with others in English. They would not be shy to speak in English. Though listening, students would tend to understand what others say. They would not be blurred with what others say. Indirectly this will greatly enhance the discussions among students and establish good relationship among each other. In short, the programmes provided a medium for all the students to learn English and to speak English among them.

Without support from parents and school administration, both programmes would not success. During the planning of the programmes, English Language society received great support from both parties. This indirectly boost up the progress of the plannings and the programmes were very successful. School administration had contributed the equipment needed such as PA system, the classroom and so on. Meanwhile, parents had played their part in encouraging their children to take part in the competitions organised.

Morever, English Language society managed to seek for sponsorship from outsiders. The committee members approached to local companies to request for sponsorships of the hampers. The companies were willing to play their part in corporate social responsibilities by sponsoring the hampers and providing the incentives as the fund of the programmes.

Nevertheless, English Language society had noticed few weaknesses that are needed to improve. First of all, in some competitions such as impromptu speech competition, most of the participants were “old faces”. All these participants were the school representatives for speech competitions. Indirectly this will discourage other students to take part as they think that they will definitely lose to the school representatives. Their confidence was gone before competing.

Besides, the PA system of the school was old and not modern enough. During competitions such as choir singing competitions, the committee members often faced the problem that PA system was malfunctioning. The competition could not go smoothly. The malfunctioning of PA system nearly caused the competition to be delayed and could not finish on time.

Furthermore, in the progress of the competitions, some students tend to give excuses such as going to toilets to leave the classroom. Indeed they went to watch the competitions and support their classmates. They would rather played truancy to watch the competitions that staying in the class to study. School’s disciplinary will be affected when the outsiders know.

Suggestions and Recommendations

In order to maintain the English programmes at high spirit, English Language society would like to share some suggestions and recommendations for improvements. First of all, English Language society would wish that the school administration would give the permission to extend the activities to be carried out outside the formal schooling hours, regardless the time and places. This is to enable the students or parents to watch the competitions and to give support to the participants. For the broken PA system, the school administration is advised to take immediate action to send the PA system for repairing and maintenance in order to maintain the good quality of the equipment.

Furthermore, teachers should often encourage the students to speak English in the class through a series of indoor activities. Teachers are the ones who colour the students’ life, hence they should be good role models by speaking English with the students. Monitors are ought to lead the class to talk in English too. Students will be influenced when most of the students speak in English. Students should not tease those who are weaker in English, vice versa, they should become guiders to help them improve their English.


In a nutshell, the programmes planned by English Language society had hopefully generated positive effects towards the students, teachers, or even parents. As the saying goes, “Practices Make Perfect”, students should always bear the quote in mind and begin the trend of speaking English. The English Language society will keep the hard work up and plan the similar programmes next few years to benefit all the students and make English Language becomes more visible in the school compound.

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