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Tips for Year 10 Students Selecting Their HSC English Course

You’re in year 10 and have a multitude of major decisions waiting to confront you – you’re confused, and rightly so. I understand, I’ve been in the same situation. It’s daunting to have so many options, to have to decide what subjects you want to do and what career field you desire to enter. Your aptitude and interests are pertinent; forcing yourself to do subjects you have no passion for is strenuous on your psyche. While I urge you to choose subjects you enjoy, English is a subject that is a necessity for both year 11 and 12. Not all people are passionate about English, and I believe that’s because of a lack of engagement with the texts and concepts. Maybe your teacher doesn’t have the zeal that urges you to consume different types of literature and understand concepts on a personal level. Maybe you think that you have no talent for essay-writing or creative writing, and it’s something that is inborn – not something to be learnt. Or perhaps you think that English is just a chore that needs doing and attack it accordingly. It’s a fallacy to believe that as a subject, English is purely subjective and one is either naturally good at it or not, unlike mathematics.

I believe everyone can excel at speech writing, essay writing and creative writing if they develop an enthusiasm for it; it’s no longer an imposition when you discover how fascinating the intricacies of texts are. I’ve been deeply interested in English for as long as I can remember. When I was three, I began reading and by age four I’d finished the ‘Babysitters Club’ series and could always be found curled up somewhere in the house with a book. This fervour continued throughout primary school – I couldn’t get enough of the new books at the school library and writing creative short stories of my own. My marks were always exceptionally high in English, because I found it fascinating and received ideal guidance from my equally passionate teachers. When year 10 rolled around, I knew immediately I wanted to do Advanced English and Extension 1. I loved J.D Salinger and was ecstatic when I found out I’d be studying ‘The Catcher in the Rye’ and Camus’ ‘The Outsider’. I added on Extension 2 once I was in year twelve and I can confidently say it was one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life. I was given the opportunity to write a creative major work, which then led me to write two novels and an anthology of poetry, as well as take English as a major at Sydney University.

English enhances one’s high school (and post high school) life, and I feel that year 10 students are thrown into the deep end as soon as they enter year 11. Up until then, they’re not exposed to the required levels of critical thinking and understanding of various literary and visual analysis techniques. Often they are not prepared at all and do not have the motivation or morale to succeed. The transition from year 10 English to English Advanced is rocky and needs to be handled cautiously – students must be directed by experienced teachers and tutors. As head English coach, I will guide students through the dense modules and areas of study and help confer my passion for the subject to them. I’ll ensure they understand how contexts and techniques shape texts, and not only will they achieve high scores, they’ll enjoy their work. I scored 93 in English advanced, 47/50 in Extension 1 and 48/50 in Extension 2; I’m currently majoring in English and Art History at the University of Sydney with an above distinction average and I’m confident I can help students achieve their personal best.

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