What is English about?
English is the study, use, and enjoyment of the English language and its literature, communicated orally, visually, and in writing, for a range of purposes and audiences and in a variety of forms.
By understanding how language works, students are equipped to make appropriate language choices and apply them in a range of contexts. Students learn to deconstruct and critically interrogate texts in order to understand the power that language has to enrich and shape their own and others’ lives.
Students appreciate and enjoy texts in all their forms. The study of Aotearoa New Zealand and world literature contributes to students’ developing sense of identity, their awareness of Aotearoa New Zealand’s bicultural heritage, and their understanding of the world.
Understanding, using, and creating oral, written, and visual texts of increasing complexity is at the heart of English teaching and learning. By engaging with text-based activities, students become increasingly skilled and sophisticated speakers and listeners, writers and readers, and presenters and viewers.
Students at Levels 6-8 of the New Zealand Curriculum can integrate sources of information, processes, and strategies purposefully and confidently to identify, form, and express increasingly sophisticated ideas. They create and make meaning using evidence in the text, from other texts, and from their own experience. Students understand that different people’s interpretation and production of text depend on their experiences, perspectives and world views. They deliberately use a wide range of language devices and literary features to create meaning and effects, and understand and appreciate how others do this too. They can critically evaluate the effectiveness of these devices and features to ‘tell a story’.
Big Ideas and Significant Learning
The three overarching Big Ideas about the nature of English are derived from the Learning Area Essence Statement and align with the English whakatauki in The New Zealand Curriculum:
Ko te reo te tuakiri Language is my identity
Ko te reo tōku ahurei Language is my uniqueness
Ko te reo te ora Language is life.
English is the only Learning Area that mentions enjoyment in its essence statement, and the overarching Big Idea Engaging with text is a source of enjoyment and enrichment foregrounds this aspect of English study. Enjoyment and enrichment come from the ability to bring the aesthetic to the fore, from the ability to be moved when interacting with text. Enjoyment is enhanced and learners are enriched when they have the ability to use language with control and respond critically to texts.
The second Big Idea Language and identity are inextricable emphasises how our reading and production of texts is informed through our identity and how our identity informs our understanding. Learners will connect with the Significant Learning through the lens of their own cultural identity and learn to engage with worlds and ideas beyond their own experience.
The third Big Idea Making/creating meaning is an active process that occurs when we interpret and produce text allows the learner to engage in a real way with that text. This engagement builds and connects meaning in the conversation between reader and text. Both Big Idea 2 and 3 are ways of strengthening the enjoyment and enrichment from Big Idea 1. These three Big Ideas are threaded through the Significant Learning and will be reflected in the teaching and the learning throughout a programme or course of study.
Significant Learning is structured around two interconnected strands, each encompassing oral, written, and visual forms of the language:
- making meaning of ideas or information they receive
- creating meaning for themselves or others.
Competencies and ways of working involve using a set of underpinning processes and strategies to develop knowledge, skills, and understandings related to:
- text purposes and audiences
- ideas within language contexts
- language features that enhance texts
- the structure and organisation of texts.
The Significant Learning statements refer to the four key areas we have identified: language, text, aesthetic purpose, and the importance of Māori voices. They weave together with the Big Ideas to produce more detailed Significant Learning statements by curriculum level.
The Big Ideas form a framework for the Significant Learning in English that will provide young New Zealanders with the skills, attitudes and capabilities to engage with and participate in society. A teacher might start with any of the Significant Learning statements and build a coherent learning programme in which students engage in a range of texts and language.
Learning should not be linear. To allow learners to transfer the capabilities developed in one context to new contexts, they need exposure and practice in developing and applying those capabilities across multiple contexts using a range of content.
Big Idea 1: Engaging with text is a source of enjoyment and enrichment
Ko te reo te ora
English is the study, use and enjoyment of the English language and its literature. As students learn to engage with text and use language with increasing levels of control and sophistication, they are better able to deconstruct and critically interrogate texts, and to understand the power that language has to enrich and shape their own and others’ lives.
The use of the word 'text' in this Learning Matrix includes written, verbal, visual, and multi-modal texts. Literary texts are the exclusive domain of the English Learning Area and will be studied along with the range of other text types and genres in which human stories are told.
We make sense of our inner and outer lives through story. Students will learn about the bicultural heritage of Aotearoa New Zealand through studying a range of Aotearoa New Zealand texts and be able to critically respond, evaluate, enjoy, and be enriched by what they read. They will learn about the gaps in literature and identify omissions and privileges in the texts with which they interact. These textual interactions move students forward on a journey towards reading for enjoyment, enrichment, and personal fulfilment. The acknowledgement that readers can be moved, persuaded and informed through engagement with text enriches students’ interactions with those texts. Confidence in their own voice will develop as they learn to use appropriate processing and comprehension strategies to both produce and engage with increasingly varied and complex texts. Learning to appreciate and enjoy the sophistication of language and meaning will enable students to enrich their thinking and communication, and their own and others’ lives.
Big Idea 2: Language and identity are inextricable
Ko te reo te tuakiri
The study of Aotearoa New Zealand (Māori, Pacific, and Pākeha voices) and world literature contributes to students’ developing sense of identity, their awareness of Aotearoa New Zealand’s bicultural heritage, and their understanding of the world.
Language, identity, and perspective (of the writer and the reader) are powerful forces in the conversation that spans past, present, and future (whakapapa) and thus, students learn that identity shapes what we write and how we read, that their own perspectives frame their understanding and interpretations of texts (turangawaewae). And so, learning to recognise the value of other peoples’ stories, along with their own, and to identify how they themselves are portrayed and objectified in texts empowers students to feel part of a larger whole. Becoming familiar with a wide range of perspectives in the creation of texts, including the identity of the writer and the reader, will help students understand and communicate increasingly sophisticated identity and language-based ideas. In doing so, they further develop their sense of identity and begin to understand where and how they belong.
Big Idea 3: Making/creating meaning is an active process that occurs when we interpret and when we produce text
Ko te reo tōku ahurei
The active process of making meaning is unique to each of us. There is a conversation between the writer, the reader, and the text which is specific to each writer and reader. Being aware of and taking an increasingly informed and active part in this conversation is how students will develop the metacognitive skills to make and create meaning with confidence in their unique voice as writers and critics.
By engaging with text-based activities, students become increasingly skilled at making meaning through engagement with language and text, and at creating meaning for themselves and others.
Making deliberate choices in crafting and editing texts whilst being able to critique and evaluate their creative processes empowers students to find and nurture their own voice. Students who are able to create and make meaning that resonates or makes connections with their prior knowledge and learned experiences will build confidence in their discerning responsiveness to others’ texts and stories. Learning to recognise the aesthetic qualities (sensual, perceptual, cognitive, and affective) of a text will allow students to increasingly and purposefully emulate those skills in the creation of their own text.
Making deliberate choices in their interpretations of texts whilst being able to critique and evaluate others’ creative processes, motivations, purposes, as well as textual and aesthetic qualities enables students to actively make meaning. Appreciating the intended effects of language features, and the structure and organisation of texts will also contribute to that active meaning making. As the audience, students will be able to think critically about texts and articulate increasingly sophisticated ideas with confidence, understanding, and clarity.
Key Competencies in English
This section of New Zealand Curriculum online offers specific guidance to school leaders and teachers on integrating the Key Competencies into the daily activities of the school and its Teaching and Learning Programmes.
Key Competencies and Significant Learning in English
The thinking Key Competency is about using creative, critical and meta-cognitive processes to make sense of information experiences and ideas.
Students in English will:
- Bring creative processes to the creation of oral/visual and written text, as well as in the creation of new ideas and insights in responses to oral/visual and written text.
- Use critical processes to understand and infer meaning and to recognise how writers position an audience for a purpose. They will learn to question sources, perspectives and representation.
- Use critical processes as self-reflection as they make deliberate language choices and to ‘look beyond’ the text and make connections.
- Use meta-cognitive processes as they read and create increasingly sophisticated texts. They are able to reflect on and use a range of strategies to make and create meaning.
Using Language Symbols and Text
This Key Competency is about, ‘working with and making meaning of the codes in which knowledge is expressed.
Students in English will:
- develop their ability to make meaning of words, visual and oral language with control. They will make deliberate choices in the crafting and editing of visual, oral and written texts
- learn how language changes and how it is used differently according to purpose and audience
- recognise conventions of text types and learn how lexical choice, sound, form, structure, figurative, and literal language can create sensual, perceptual, cognitive, and affective responses.
This Key Competency is associated with self-motivation, a “can-do” attitude and with students seeing themselves as capable learners.
Students in English will:
- become capable learners as they develop self-efficacy and confidence to use meta-cognitive processes
- understand and use English processes and strategies.
- make increasingly appropriate selection and application of language symbols and text
- respond to and use feedback and critique.
Relating to Others
Relating to others is about interacting effectively with a diverse range of people in a variety of contexts.
Students in English will:
- understand how to use language with control to express developed ideas for different purposes and audiences
- understand how writers make language choices to relate to specific audiences for a particular purpose.
Participating and contributing
This Key Competency is about being actively involved in communities.
Students in English will:
- be actively involved in communities through their ability to use oral, visual and written language to participate in discussion and discourse
- participate, as readers, in the world of ideas and be able to develop their own viewpoints and positions and contribute from an informed position.
Connections with other school subjects
English has particularly close links with subjects such as Media Studies, Drama, History, Languages, and Art History, but it also links to all subject areas because the skills that students acquire in English are universally useful and applicable:
- All students need certain literacy and language knowledge, skills, and attitudes to meet the reading and writing demands of the curriculum. Reading and writing, listening and speaking, and viewing and presenting are required tools in every curriculum area. Literacy in English is therefore a crucial factor in student success.
- All Learning Areas depend on students being able to understand, respond to, and use a variety of written, oral and visual language to think about, locate, interpret, and evaluate ideas and information and to communicate with others. The Key Competencies similarly depend on these skills for their development.
- The critical thinking and analytical skills developed in English are important in all areas of the curriculum.
- English plays a major role in developing the Key Competencies and values that are also of benefit in other subjects.
The four aspects in English (purposes and audiences, ideas, language features, and structure) can also be a way of embedding literacy in all senior subjects.
“As language is central to learning and English is the medium for most learning in The New Zealand Curriculum, the importance of literacy in English cannot be overstated.” The New Zealand Curriculum
Connections beyond the classroom
English learning extends well beyond the classroom. Most schools provide opportunities for students to get involved and be part of:
- school productions
- debating clubs
- book clubs.
Many schools provide opportunities for students to participate in competitive activities such as:
- Sheilah Winn Shakespeare Festival
- Debating competitions
- Poetry and short story competitions
- Stage Challenge
- Ngā Manu Kōrero (English and te reo Māori oral speaking)
- Pasifika festivals now often include regional speech and drama performances.
- Learning for life and the world of work
Through English, students can develop the literacy, communication and interpersonal skills they need to access learning in other subjects and contexts. Studying English also develops the critical thinking and analytical skills that are valued in all subjects and in many occupations. Read the “Why study English?” (rationale) section of this guide.
“By studying English, I will use my skills to create well-structured pieces of writing.”
“English is like a stepping-stone in your life, a basic thing you need to have, in order to survive the world after school.”
At tertiary level
Studying English is important preparation for tertiary study, on-the-job training and for life-long learning. English is foundational to numerous tertiary programmes and learning and professional development in work contexts. Studies in English can enhance career options. Many tertiary courses and occupations, including those in the Health Sciences, require proficiency in English.
“I’m getting A's in Geography at Victoria and one of the main reasons is that I learned how to structure a university level essay in Year 13 English.”
“The best preparation I had for study was the reading and thinking I did when doing my Year 13 research, not to mention that I learned how to do referencing properly.”
Learning for life and the world of work
To make the most of their life, learning and work opportunities, students need to become effective oral, written, and visual communicators with the capacity to think critically and in depth.
Literacy in English gives them access to the understandings, knowledge, and skills required for full participation in social, cultural, political, and economic life.
Studying English enhances employability. According to Business New Zealand, the single most important attribute valued by employers is the ability to communicate effectively. See Careers NZ: The skills most valued by employers
Further information and guidance around vocational pathways can be found at: http://youthguarantee.education.govt.nz/
The study of English can open up all kinds of opportunities, occupations, interests, activities, and explorations. Every time a person engages in any of the following, for example, they are putting into action what they learned in English:
- Reading online, or a book, magazine or newspaper
- Creating a tailored and convincing job application based on a position description
- Interviewing for a job
- Giving a presentation
- Writing a CV and cover letter
- Interpersonal skills such as active listening writing an email or blog
- Forming and expressing an opinion
- Considering issues from a range of perspectives
- Developing research skills such finding, referencing and discerning the sources information
- Speaking at a gathering on behalf of whānau or yourself in a Te ao Māori context such as at a tangihanga, wedding or graduation
- Creating an internet document
- Devising a set of instructions
- Discussing why you like a particular play, novel or film
Introduction to sample course outlines
Three sample Course Outlines have been produced to help teachers and schools understand the new NCEA Learning and Assessment Matrices and how a year-long English course could be constructed. They are indicative and do not mandate any particular choice of text or approach.
More detailed sample Teaching and Learning Programmes will be developed during school piloting of the Assessment Package.
Unpacking The Standards
These statements help to unpack the ways in which the Achievement Standards assess the Significant Learning in the Learning Matrix.
1.1 (Internal) Demonstrate understanding of how verbal language patterns are used for a specific audience and purpose
The Significant Learning that this standard assesses is the way in which language is rich and varied, adapts and changes, and is shaped by and for context.
By engaging in a language study, students will also learn how they can use language with control to strengthen their identity and effectively participate in society.
They will learn to recognise how language use in media, advertising, conversation or literary texts, or any of the myriad contexts in which they are engaged in language as listeners and speakers, can position, influence and, in some cases, manipulate them.
Language patterns can be conceived as patterns that might be chosen deliberately in order to meet a specific purpose, such as the rhetorical conventions of a political speech. Language patterns could also be a particular instance of language use that occurs repeatedly during a given text or utterance. It may not, for example be a deliberate formal choice that a particular social group will repeatedly use the filler ‘like,’ in their conversation, but it is a pattern that has a particular function in that social group.
Further support and materials are provided with the Assessment Activities.
1.2 (Internal) Present a verbal and visual personal response to texts
This Achievement Standard assesses the students’ ability to demonstrate how their own perspective shapes their understanding and interpretation of texts. It uncovers what’s going on for students when they are reading. It encourages the discussion about the students’ ‘meeting,’ with the text: what it did to them, what it meant to them and why it meant that to them.
In developing a response, students are making connections between text and self, and text and world. A response will demonstrate how the student, as a reader, made meaning using evidence in the text, from other texts, from their own experience and in their particular time and place. It may centre on a student’s affective/ emotional response and the way in which the aspects discussed give the text intrinsic beauty. Ākonga Māori may be able to respond to texts in which they are able to see or hear their own voice, identify with aspects of te ao Māori woven through the text, or discuss ways in which they may feel they are excluded from a text perhaps due to the time in which it was written, or the point of view of the author.
Significant Learning for this standard can support learning for AS 1.4, as students explore their own response through understanding significant aspects such as language features, style and theme. Students may respond to written, oral or visual texts.
In presenting their response as a verbal/visual text students will make deliberate choices in their use of verbal and visual language features to communicate their ideas. This could be in an oral presentation, in which the visual language features could be eye contact, stance etc. Or it could be a visual presentation such as a short film, or image with a strong verbal component.
Further support and materials are provided with the Assessment Activities.
1.3 (External) Produce crafted writing
The Significant Learning this standard assesses is the ability to make deliberate choices in the crafting and editing of written texts to communicate ideas. In order to prepare for the external assessment, students will have opportunities to draft and develop writing throughout the year with guidance and feedback to improve clarity, meaning and effect. The standard should be part of a robust programme of learning, within which students are assessed when they are ready. The guiding principles of this standard are independence and authenticity. Two pieces (at least one formal and one creative) will be produced for external assessment. Pieces for assessment will be completed under conditions set by NZQA, so that students can authentically demonstrate their ability to produce crafted writing.
1.4 (External) Show understanding of significant aspects of texts, using supporting evidence
Interpreting literary text contributes to our understanding of what it means to be human, to empathise and engage with worlds beyond our own.
This standard assesses students’ ability to show understanding of significant aspects of texts, both unfamiliar and studied. It will be assessed in a two-hour exam, set by NZQA. Students will study a variety of texts, written, oral and visual throughout the year. Students will respond to two unfamiliar texts, at least one of which will be by a Māori author.
Conditions of Assessment
This section provides guidelines for assessment against internally assessed standards. Guidance is provided on:
- appropriate ways of, and conditions for, gathering evidence
- ensuring that evidence is authentic
- any other relevant advice specific to an Achievement Standard.
NB: Information on additional generic guidance on assessment practice in schools is published on the NZQA website. It would be useful to read in conjunction with these Conditions of Assessment.
The school's Assessment Policy and Conditions of Assessment must be consistent with the Assessment Rules for Schools With Consent to Assess. These rules will be updated during the NCEA review. This link includes guidance for managing internal moderation and the collection of evidence.
For all standards
Internal assessment provides considerable flexibility in the collection of evidence. Evidence can be collected in different ways to suit a range of teaching and learning styles, and a range of contexts of teaching and learning. Care needs to be taken to allow students opportunities to present their best evidence against the standard(s) that are free from unnecessary constraints.
It is recommended that the design of assessment reflects and reinforces the ways students have been learning. Collection of evidence for the internally assessed standards could include, but is not restricted to, an extended task, an investigation, digital evidence (such as recorded interviews, blogs, photographs or film), or a portfolio of evidence.
It is also recommended that the collection of evidence for internally assessed standards should not use the same method that is used for any external standards in a programme/course, particularly if that method is using a time bound written examination. This could unfairly disadvantage students who do not perform well under these conditions.
A separate assessment event is not needed for each standard. Often assessment can be integrated into one activity that collects evidence towards two or three different standards from a programme of learning. Evidence can also be collected over time from a range of linked activities (for example, in a portfolio).This approach can also ease the assessment workload for both students and teachers.
Effective assessment should suit the nature of the learning being assessed, provide opportunities to meet the diverse needs of all students, and be valid and fair.
Authenticity of student evidence needs to be assured regardless of the method of collecting evidence. This needs to be in line with school policy. For example: an investigation carried out over several sessions could include teacher observations or the use of milestones such as a meeting with the student, a journal, or photographic entries recording progress etc.
Demonstrate understanding of how verbal language patterns are used for a specific audience and purpose.
Preparatory work for this standard will need to occur in class and at home. The final presentation of evidence must be completed with appropriate teacher supervision to ensure authenticity.
Advice to students for how to improve a piece of work, before it is submitted for assessment, should avoid teacher correction of specific details of the assessment. Rather, broad guiding statements/questions should be used. e.g. “What further examples could you provide as evidence, and where is the best place for them?" or “How could you better link this example of your identified language pattern to why it is used?”
Word and time limits in the Assessment activities are indicative only. It is expected that students should be able to meet the standard within these limits, but professional judgement should apply.
Texts can be provided by the teacher or independently chosen but should be independently studied.
Advice to students for how to improve piece of work, before it is submitted for assessment, should avoid teacher correction of specific details of the assessment. Rather, broad guiding statements should be used. e.g. "Where could you make better use of intonation?" "What verbal language technique might work well here, and why?" "What could you do with that white space to make the image more effective?"
Verbal and visual presentations must have a verbal language component.
Verbal language features can be:
- language techniques (e.g. rhetorical questions, alliteration, rhyme, dialogue, quotations, slogan, caption...)
Visual language features can be:
- presentation features (e.g. props, costume, demonstration materials or items....)
- body language (e.g. eye contact, stance, gesture, facial expression, movement...)
- pictorial elements (e.g. images, layout, symbolism, font, colour...).