How to get the best results from your study of... Language to impact your ATAR.

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
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.