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English is about communication. Communication is what happens when knowledge and understanding are exchanged. In the study of English, a text is anything that communicates knowledge, understanding or an idea (concept). This exchange can occur between a speaker and listener, writer and reader or between a representer (a person who creates visual images) and a viewer. In the NSW English syllabus, these three exchanges of information are called language modes.

In many ways you already have the basic skills that it takes to achieve in English. The following is a list of texts divided into types. How many of these texts do you use every day? Which of the text types and forms have you used to communicate or for communication? Alternatively, the animated version, 'Text Type Experience' enables you to record detailed answers.

Language Mode

Text Type/Form. Have you:


Listened to a teacher explain something?

Listened to a speech?

Listened to the radio?

Listened to a song?

Heard the soundtrack of a film?



Had a conversation with a friend?

Had a telephone conversation?



Made a speech?

Explained something to someone?

Retold events from the weekend or holidays?



Read a magazine?

Read a newspaper?

Read a short story?

Read a poem?

Read an instruction manual?

Read the lyrics to a song?

Read a novel?



Written a letter?

Written an Email?

Used instant messenger?

Made a post in an internet forum?

Visited and contributed to a chat room?

Written a text message?

Written a note in your diary?

Written a poem?

Written a short story?

Written a note to a friend or family?



Watched (viewed) a television show?

Seen (viewed) an advertisement on a bus or train?

Watched (viewed) a film?

Watched (viewed) a television advertisement?

Seen (viewed) pictures in a magazine?

Seen (viewed) holiday photos?

Seen (viewed) a painting?

Seen (viewed) a picture book?

Seen (viewed) a website that included pictures?

Seen (viewed) a play?



Taken a photograph?

Drawn a picture?

Painted a picture?

Sent a picture message?

Attached an image to an email?

Made a collage?

Acted in a play?

Have you been involved in many, or any, of these forms of communication? Great! That means that you already have useful experience that will help you in your study of English. The aim of English from Kindergarten all the way through to Year 12 is to develop the skills that you already have. Each year, as you grow older and learn more, you will develop your skills of communication to become an increasingly effective communicator. This will involve increasingly complex texts and concepts that you will both respond to (read, listen, view) and compose (write, speak, represent).

The next question that needs to be answered is, 'What makes an effective communicator?' Effective communication works on a number of levels. The basic skills that you learn are essential for you to reach higher levels of thinking. Think of it much like a tall building. The most important storeys are on the bottom. The more solid the base of the building, the higher the building can reach. Look at the table to see how an English 'building' is constructed.



1. Knowledge

Can you use grammar?

Are you a good speller?

Can you pick out the plot of a story and identify the main characters?


2. Comprehension

Can you get basic information from a text?

Can you learn from other people and explain what it is that you have learned?


3. Application

Can you choose the appropriate words and forms to communicate particular ideas?

Can you change the way that you communicate for particular audiences? Can you use the information and ideas that you learn from others?


4. Analysis

Can you see how different texts are similar? (Do they use similar language, structure and techniques or do they communicate similar knowledge and ideas in different ways?)

Can you see that the use of language, structure and techniques affects the meaning of texts?

Can you see deeper meanings and themes that are expressed through connotation and implied meaning? (Things that mean more than they say on a literal level.) Can you use these aspects to communicate more effectively?


5. Synthesis

Can you see how different types of communication and different topics of communication have a particular impact for you?

Can you see how different texts might have different meanings for other people? In other words, can you see texts in terms of context?

Can you see a broader context of texts and what they mean in relation to the world? In other words, has a text changed the way that you see the world and can you explain this?


6. Evaluation

Can you decide upon the reliability of a text?

Can you decide upon the value and effectiveness of a text for particular audiences?

Can you make an argument that is based on evaluations of different text?

Can you compare the values of the ideas and the way that they are communicated in different texts?

You can track your achievement and development of these skills in the animation, 'Are you an effective communicator?'