Language-learning and the HSC

I taught high school for four exciting years.  I marked the HSC English exam three times in those years, and I understand what students need to excel, regardless of how the curriculum and reading list changes.  My main clients now are obviously non-English speakers, and mostly I help them learn vocabulary and grammar, as well as the structure and style of English language as a representation of the culture.  However, I see some real benefits for native speakers to learn about their own language, especially high school students.

The first benefit is for those who wish to learn a foreign language.  Knowing how your own language fits together, the mechanics of it, is very handy when you’re learning your second.  Understanding grammar helps us to unlock the things we read and the intention of the writer.

A second benefit is that success in writing involves being able to evoke a response in the reader – and that is done by crafting interesting and well-developed sentences and paragraphs.  Understanding the rules of grammar helps writers to ‘play’ with the language.

For essayists, this means being able to craft depth and length of sentence effectively; for poets, it means knowing the ‘rules’ of the language so they can be ‘broken’ with maximum impact.

So how does all this help a teenager?  In English, it is an advantage in literature studies and analysis.  In Maths, it trains the brain to look for patterns and understand ‘formula’.  In history, geography, and other sciences, it helps to deconstruct bias and perspective, and provides access to cultural heritage.  In ‘the real world’, it helps young people decode what they read, be it a text message or a job contract.

Young people with great vocabulary and language skills invariably feel more at ease in their communication, which is seen as a primary asset in the job market.  It equips them to speak and write confidently, read discerningly, and make sense of the world around them.

Would you like to understand your own language more deeply?  Do you know a young person who would benefit from training in how English works?  Get in touch – I’d love to help.