How to get the best results from your study of a Language to impact your ATAR. At the outset - be positive and aim high. Be aware where the marks go to consider where you put your effort. The exam is a long way away but what can you do now? It is really good to record and watch or stream the news in your chosen language off SBS as it will train your ear to listening to the language spoken at speed and help you to listen for the gist. Year 11 is mainly about revising the basics and deepening your understanding of the grammar. If you can practise with a native speaker for the oral tests. ALWAYS Proof read your work. Perhaps cross check work with a friend? Look at the syllabus and make sure you understand all the requirements from the outset as it helps to have an overview of the course and an idea of how to pace yourself. When are your major assessments? When is your speaking test? Make notes on key points where you think you are weak so that you can strategise how to improve. It helps to check the SCSA website and read the past examiners’ comments as this gives you an idea of where other people struggle with their responses to questions and avoid tricks and traps. Read and/or listen to the question carefully and make sure that you answer the questions being asked. Don’t just regurgitate set pieces that you have learned off by heart that don’t answer the question. This will lose you marks. When it comes to the speaking tests you must be prepared to become a bit of an actor. Develop an exam persona. Convince yourself that you are confident and fluent and keep the conversation flowing as much as possible. Smile and nod and lay on the charm. One word answers and mumbling can cost you dearly. The best marks come when you incorporate more complex grammar structures into your essays. Use the dictionary for some model sentences. Make notes of great sentences when you come across them for later use. Make a list of the different tenses and try and use as many as you can in various ways but not in a “shopping list” kind of way. Learn some useful idioms in your chosen language. They give colour and depth to your work. For example in French the way to say, “ it’s the last straw” in French is, “c’est la fin des haricots” which means it is the last runner bean! There is a lot of fun to be had and you may improve your English use of idioms as you go. Check the word order in your chosen language. Don’t just translate word for word you have to make it sound French/Japanese/German/Chinese not just words that you hope make sense. Note that examiners’ really do not like repetition so you will have to find different ways to say the same thing. It helps to learn lots of little words and fillers such as however and nonetheless rather than just using “and “ and “but”. You will have to adapt the style of language depending on what you are writing. A formal job application is different from an email to a friend so make sure that you respect the language conventions that you need. The oral test may seem like a long way away now but good prep starts now. Make drafts of prepared answers to possible questions. Remember to use formal language with the examiner, be friendly but not overly familiar. Don’t forget to start with greetings. Say hello to the second examiner in the room. See this as a play and note that your entrance and exits matter. Never answer with just a yes or no, add to it and keep the conversation going maybe ask the examiner their opinion? Odd things can happen in exams so try not to be thrown by anything strange - just go with the flow and keep nodding and smiling. Check you know your grammar terminology! In the exam When it comes to listening tests you must try to read the questions thoroughly during the reading time as it goes really quickly and you need as much prep time as possible. Highlight key important words. Put down ALL pieces of relevant info even if you think it is so obvious it does not need to be written down. Make a decision about what information goes with which question. It usually goes into chronological order. If you hear a word that you don’t know, write it in the margin and look it up afterwards. You can deduce the meaning for the question later if you have time. Let your subconscious work on the problem while you are doing something else and the answer may just come to you later. You can write lots of notes in the working space and come back to it later. It is hard to write good English while you are listening. After you must re read your English and rewrite it if it doesn’t make sense. You may have understood the question and know the answer but if the English is gibberish the examiners won’t know. Demonstrate a variety of tenses and language. Work in bits and pieces that you have practised but only if they fit the point you are trying to make. Extra info to think about now for the future There are lots of possibilities for winning awards and scholarships and prep for these begins in Year 11 as you may need to add some extra skills by the time you reach the scholarship application stage. In September of Year 12 you can apply for the Sangora Scholarship which is worth $10 000 for your overseas travel and study. AT UWA there is the Fogarty scholarship which pays for your university tuition. They want applications from all-rounders so you will need to demonstrate involvement in leadership, sports, arts, community, and you should be an academic all rounder. If you do well you can apply for vice chancellors scholarships which can be used for any courses not just languages. Something else that you may not have heard of but want to do. Every year there are about 40 places to study for a Bachelor of Philosophy. This can be in a variety of disciplines but it is a different kind of degree. To get in you need an ATAR of around 99. You have to have a research element to your degree and you get to do all kinds of inspiring leadership training. Its like a special club within UWA. If you study a language at UWA then you do not do any exams at all for languages if you are a post WACE student. You have around 4 hours study per week for each unit which is around the same as you have for WACE now. If you aim to get a scholarship then you will need to say in your application how you intend to use your studies to benefit WA so you might like to start thinking about that now. Studying Languages seems like a lot of work throughout the year but provided you have followed these hints and tips and made the most of your language learning opportunities along the way then you won’t have so much to do at the end. Pace yourselves and you can achieve really well in WACE and congratulations for choosing to do a language it is a really great choice.
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