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VCE English

English Language Unit 1 and 2


Successful completion of Level 10 AUSVELS (Australian Curriculum) Standards in English is required for entry to Units 1 and 2.

Who is English Language for?

Any student is welcome to undertake English Language but it is particularly suited to:

  • those with a more analytical approach to the study of English;
  • English specialists;
  • students with a strong LOTE background;
  • students with strong essay writing skills and an interest in history, international studies and other humanities subjects.

Note: Students are expected to read widely in order to further their knowledge of language use in society. In order to succeed in English Language, students require excellent organisation skills, regular work patterns and a strong work ethic. An analytical and inquiring mind will assist in structuring essay responses, as will a fluency of written expression and a strong understanding of the mechanics of language. As this is an advanced English course, we would advise any student who struggles with English to think carefully before committing to a complex subject such as this one.

Course Description

English Language is a highly technical study that considers the formal systems and structures of language as well as the way language is used to perform various social functions. Ultimately, successful English Language students are able to balance intricate grammatical knowledge with the meaningful and detailed discussion of ideas. English Language:

  • is informed by the discipline of linguistics;
  • considers the nature of language in human thought, social interaction and identity construction;
  • systematically and objectively deconstructs language in use by exploring the structures, features and discourse of written and spoken texts;
  • develops the student's awareness of their own critical, selective and innovative use of language and their ability to apply it to their own writing and speaking.


Unit 1: Language and Communication

Students consider the way language is organised so that its users have the means to make sense of their experiences and to interact with others. They explore the various functions of language and the nature of language as a highly elaborate system of signs. The relationship between speech and writing as the dominant modes of language and the impact of situational and cultural contexts on language choices are also considered. Each of the English Language units requires students to understand linguistic concepts and use metalanguage appropriately to describe and analyse language in an objective and a systematic way.

Unit 2: Language Change

In this unit students focus on language change. They consider factors contributing to change over time in the English language and factors contributing to the spread of English. They explore texts from the past, and contemporary texts, considering how all subsystems of the language system are affected – phonetics and phonology, morphology and lexicology, syntax, discourse and semantics. In addition to developing an understanding of how English has been transformed over the centuries, students explore the various possibilities for the future of English and consider the cultural repercussions of the spread of English.  Each of the English Language units requires students to understand linguistic concepts and use metalanguage appropriately to describe and analyse language in an objective and a systematic way.

Areas of Study (Unit 1)

The Nature and Functions of Language

  • Students explore the nature of language and the various functions language performs in a range of contexts. They consider the properties that distinguish human communication as unique, the differences between modes of spoken and written language, and the relationship that exists between meaning and the rules that govern language use.
  • Students learn that the situational elements of a language exchange, such as the function, field, mode, setting and relationships between participants, influence language choice.
  • Cultural factors, such as the values, attitudes and beliefs held by participants and the wider community, also affect people’s linguistic choices.

Language Acquisition

  • This area of study focusses on the developmental stages of child language acquisition.
  • Students understand that in addition to words and their meanings, children learn to use the phonological and grammatical conventions of the language, as well as the appropriate use of these conventions in different social situations. 
  • Students are introduced to different theories that attempt to explain how children acquire language and examine the similarities and differences that exist between first and additional language acquisition.

Areas of Study (Unit 2)

English Across Time

  • This area of study examines the changes that have occurred in English over time.
  • Students investigate the factors that bring about language change, including those that come from within the language itself, from social transformation, and from contact with other languages.
  • They explore language change across all subsystems, as represented in texts that traverse the history of English. 
  • Students examine the general concept of standardisation and the notion of ‘correct English’. Students develop an understanding that languages will continue to change to meet the needs and reflect the values of their users.
  • They apply their awareness of Australia’s linguistic heritage to consideration of possibilities for the future of English.

Englishes in Contact 

  • In this area of study students consider the effects of the global spread of English by learning about both the development and decline of languages as a result of English contact, the elevation of English as a global lingua franca, and the significant cultural repercussions of language contact.
  • Students explore the ways English is used as an expression of culture in a range of literary, transactional and popular culture texts. 
  • Students become familiar with the distinctive features of a number of national, ethnic and regional varieties of English and develop an understanding of how change to a language has significant repercussions for its users’ cultural identity and world view.


Unit 1 Outcomes
Assessment Tasks
(school-assessed coursework)
Identify and describe primary aspects of the nature and functions of human language.

Selected from:

  • folio;
  • investigative report;
  • test;
  • essay; 
  • case study;
  • short answer questions; 
  • written or oral analysis of data;
  • analysis of spoken and/or written text;
  • oral/multimodal presentation.
Describe what children learn when they acquire language and discuss a range of perspectives on how language is acquired.


Unit 2 Outcomes
Assessment Tasks
(school-assessed coursework)
Describe language change as represented in a range of texts and analyse a range of attitudes to language change.

Selected from:

  • folio; 
  • investigative report; 
  • test;
  • essay; 
  • case study; 
  • short answer questions; 
  • written or oral analysis of data;
  • analysis of spoken and/or written text;
  • oral/multimodal presentation.
Describe and explain the effects of the global spread of English in terms of both conformity and diversity, through a range of spoken and written texts.

Note: In addition to graded tasks, English Language coursework must be completed to satisfactorily achieve the outcomes in each unit. This coursework includes field research, academic reading and note-taking, writing reflections and completing practice writing tasks. 

Overall Final Assessment

End of Semester Examination 

Information can be obtained from the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority, Victoria, Australia: