The English learning area has a special role in developing boys literacy because it focuses on knowledge about language and how it works.
In the English learning area boys undertake learning activities which involve the collection, comprehension and presentation of information or ideas presented in numerical, graphic or visual form. They study a wide range of texts which provide them with the opportunity to analyse and interpret information and develop the language skills which enable them to comprehend and present information and the critical understanding of language needed to evaluate it.
In English boys select, use and adapt technologies, and consider the implications of different technologies when speaking, reading and viewing, and when presenting ideas and information in written and oral form. Furthermore, English provides boys the language skills to recognise, appreciate and use patterns, structures and language conventions with understanding and critical awareness. Boys use a variety of processes and strategies when listening, viewing, reading, speaking and writing to reflect or experiment with the use of language modes. English develops boys’ abilities to be reflective and experimental in their use of language.
English develops the boys’ abilities to listen, view and read. These are the critical abilities on which understanding, appreciation and development of knowledge and skills depend. Furthermore English provides students with the oral and written skills to participate in decision making.
The study of English provides boys with the understanding of language and language skills necessary to understand their social, cultural and historical contexts, and the language skills needed to participate actively in life in Australia.
Texts in English are, often, used for learning about language and culture. The use of English is involved with values and beliefs, and ways of thinking about ourselves and the world we inhabit.
Boys understand the importance of considering the artistic, cultural and intellectual work of others when they experience a wide range of texts. English provides boys with the skills to be able to engage in creative uses of language.
English provides boys with the language skills needed to access and evaluate information and ideas about personal health and wellbeing, and family and social relationships. It enables boys to critically analyse messages related to idealised images of the self.
In English boys participate in a range of learning and language contexts, including individual, small group and whole class activities. They reflect on their participation, evaluating their own and other boys’ contributions, understandings and progress.
Finally, as boys learn about language and how to use it effectively they recognise and respect people’s backgrounds, values, experiences and capacities.
Boys in this phase vary considerably in their development and in their language ability. They also show an increasing awareness of their individual strengths, talents and interests. While boys are often interested in pursuing increasing independence and individuality, the influence of their peer groups and its values is also important. Boys often enjoy experimenting and testing the boundaries of the social and language conventions of the adult world. Concomitantly they often show a desire and willingness to enter into this world more fully as equal members. Thus an apparent interest in pushing boundaries, may be accompanied, paradoxically by a desire for conformity and an appreciation of clear guidance.
Teaching programs take account of these factors by providing boys with the opportunity to explore and build on specific areas of interest, while still achieving the outcomes deemed appropriate for all students.
Oral activities continue to play an important role. Group oral work involves boys in the construction of more complex texts; for example drama, audiotape and videotape productions. Boys are encouraged to experiment with taking on different roles, persona and voices in their oral work. Boys are introduced to the conventions of, and involvement in, more formal and extended oral presentations such as debates, speeches and seminar presentations. They are introduced to the notion of shaping oral language for different purposes and audiences.
Boys are encouraged to listen, view and read widely and, in doing so, to develop particular tastes, interests and strengths, and to share their experiences of texts with other students. This involves the introduction of a wide range of texts including those specifically targeted at teenagers and those intended for adults. Boys learn to explain their understanding of and response to texts in more detail, in both informal, private forms of expression, and more formal public forms. Boys undertake activities intended to develop their awareness that all texts they encounter have been constructed in particular ways. They learn to discuss the construction of meaning in texts, using appropriate terminology, and to reflect on the way in which aspects of construction can affect their response to and understanding of a text. Emphasis is placed on evaluating the reliability of information, assessing its relevance to particular tasks and reworking its presentation for different purposes and audiences.
Boys are provided with opportunities to develop increased control of a variety of forms of writing and to shape these for different purposes, audiences and contexts. They learn to produce texts for a wider range of purposes and audiences; trying out and experimenting with different genres and styles as a way of broadening their understanding of the forms and processes of writing.
There is a strong focus on the processes and strategies required to develop ideas and bring work to a stage suitable for presentation to its intended audience. Particular attention is given to ensuring that boys are able to produce written and oral work that shows a clear command of the conventions of spelling, punctuation and grammatical construction associated with Standard Australian English.
Boys learn how to critically analyse and evaluate texts, their construction and their values in more detail. They examine the ways in which texts may be constructed to appeal to particular audiences or to encourage particular responses from audiences. Boys’ understanding of the relationship between language and culture is extended through an examination of how particular texts or uses of language may reflect or reinforce particular ways of thinking. They begin to examine the ways in which different reading practices produce different meanings from texts, and to consider the ways in which context and values may influence an audience’s reading of a text. As a way of developing their understanding of language, students continue to reflect on, discuss and write about their own use of language and to talk about the purpose and choices involved in the oral and written texts they produce.
English is committed to fostering the pursuit of knowledge. It is a discipline which encourages each boy to achieve his potential and, through the promotion of wide reading and critical and creative thinking, develop a broad understanding of his own values and world views.
The study of English promotes the acceptance and respect of self and, through the nature of the processes, concepts and texts which are its focus, respect and concern for others and their rights.
English promotes social and civic responsibility through the study of a wide range of texts which, often, explore and suggest the common good and encourage boys to value diversity of cultural expression and celebrate individual differences while promoting the concept of social justice.
Through its focus on understanding the historical, cultural and social contexts of a variety of texts and text types, English promotes a respect for cultural heritage and encourages an understanding of the interdependence of all elements of the environment including humans and human systems.