Argument analysis

What is Argument Analysis?

There are 2 Areas of Study (AOS) in the old and new VCE English and EAL study design, called ‘Exploring Argument’ in Unit 2 (Year 11), and ‘Analysing Argument’ in Unit 4 (Year 12).

Both AOS aim to teach our teens to

  1. identify an author’s arguments
  2. how all the arguments interplay with each other
  3. how the author has crafted the flow of their arguments
  4. analyse the mechanics of persuasion the author has used. 

In simpler language, students are taught how to read a persuasive text critically. Students are taught to not only understand what an author is saying, but also to whom they are saying it (identifying the audience), in what context they are saying it (understanding the context of the text), which then affects the how and why they are saying it.

Here are some things our students are expected to be able to identify and analyse (drawn from the new VCAA study design)

  • the text’s intended audience
  • the text’s main argument (contention) 
  • the author’s purpose in creating their piece of text 
  • the author’s use of tones 
  • the flow of logic and arguments throughout the text 
  • the persuasive techniques/devices the author has used 
  • the visual methods of persuasion used in the text 
  • (year 11 only) the prosody used in supporting the author’s arguments

Students are expected to to write an essay (roughly 800words in Year 11 and 1000 words in Year 12) under test conditions to demonstrate their understanding and skill. Low scoring students will be able to identify the arguments and summarise them, with little reference to the audience, context or purpose, while high scoring students will be able to analyse how the audience, context and purpose of the piece affects the author’s language choices in arguing their message.

Students are also expected to analyse the way visuals have been used in the communication of the author’s message, and in Year 11 (for 2023), they will also be expected to analyse the way speakers use their voice and body (prosody) to communicate their message as well. From 2024, both Year 11 and Year 12 will be expected to analyse this as well – Year 12s in 2023 will not have to analyse this as they are still under the old study design.

Sounds difficult, doesn’t it! This is one of the most feared tasks in the English and EAL study design, because of what we demand of students, and also the fact that the articles are unseen. Students don’t know what the issue will be, which side the author is on, or anything at all about the text they’re expected to analyse. And they are expected to do all this in under an hour. Eep!

If you’re looking for ways to help your teen tackle this AOS task, make sure you join our newsletter! We release 2-3 newsletter each term, packed with advice and strategies to help you support your teen in their English studies.

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