For Year 11s this year, there is now a new area of study in the VCE study design for English/EAL: the personal response!
This is a totally new area of study for VCE English/EAL, and everyone is asking questions about it!
What is a personal response essay?
What we see from the VCAA study design is that most of the skills students are required to show in a standard text response are the same skills in a personal response essay:
On completion of this unit the student should be able to explore and analyse how the vocabulary, text structures, language features and ideas in a text construct meaning.
On completion of this unit the student should be able to make personal connections with, and explore the vocabulary, text structures, language features and ideas in, a text.
So we can see that the main difference is: in a text response essay, students are expected to analyse (not just explore) the mechanics and themes of the text, while in a personal response essay, students are only required to explore this alongside making personal connections
But what does this mean?
What should be included in a personal response essay?
If the requirement is ‘make personal connections to’, then it stands to reason that the student needs to demonstrate how they see the text apply in their lives.
- Do they see the same ideas play out in their lives?
- Can they see parallels between what a character experiences and what they experience?
- Are there similarities in the way a text creator portrays an idea and how the student thinks about that idea?
- Does the text creator and the student prefer the same ways of expressing themselves?
What does a personal response essay look like?
Given the requirements of the task, I assume most schools are expecting the same level of formality and academic language when the student discusses the text, and a slightly lowered formality when discussing their personal connections.
So this could include the use of personal pronouns (I, us, our, etc) as as well as less formal language (I was a wreck when I found out…)
As always, it’s best to check with your school and teacher about the style of writing that is expected of you!
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