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Effective compositions are constructed in a way that is appropriate for the intended purpose and audience. When you construct a composition for class, your audience will often be your teacher or an audience that your teacher has selected. The purpose will be an element of your teacher's choosing as will the text form. Your teacher will give you marking guidelines to inform you of what he/she is looking for. While these marking guidelines will vary from school to school and teacher to teacher there are some features that are common to all. The following is a sample of marking guidelines from the Board of Studies in NSW:

Range Students in this range

11 - 15

  • compose an effective and appropriate film analysis text.

  • make effective choices about language and content appropriate to purpose in order to present a strong and effective analysis of a film.

  • demonstrate a clear understanding of cinematography and how it engages the viewer and shapes meaning.
 
6 - 10
  • compose a sound film analysis text

  • make sound choices about language and content appropriate to purpose in order to present a sound analysis of a film.

  • demonstrate a sound understanding of cinematography and how it engages the viewer and shapes meaning.
 
1 - 5
  • compose a text that demonstrates an emerging understanding of the conventions of film analysis.

  • Make some relevant choices about language and content in order to present some analysis of a film.

  • Demonstrate a developing awareness of cinematography and how it engages the viewer and shapes meaning.

Notice that the differences between the three marking ranges are subjective. That is to say that the mark that you will receive is dependent upon your teacher's opinion. Is your composition 'effective and appropriate', 'sound' or demonstrative of 'an emerging understanding'? It is up to you to discover what your teacher wants. Never just look at the mark that you receive. Read the comments, compare your answers to the marking guidelines, and ask your teacher how you can improve your writing. Realise that teachers are generally only too happy to read drafts and give you feedback - use your teacher's goodwill.

While the differences between the marks are subjective, there are some objective criteria that you will need to address in your writing. In the example, notice that each mark bracket uses the same wording, apart from the subjective evaluations. There are three factors in each bracket. A teacher who gives a student the above guidelines wants to see that he/she can compose a text in an appropriate form (in this example a film analysis), can choose language appropriate to audience, and has an understanding of how cinematography (the language features of a film) shape meaning.

This is useful as it outlines three main issues in English, structure, language and understanding. In this unit we will be focusing on structure and language.

The first topic will explain the basic elements of structure and language. If you can understand and utilise the basics you will be able to construct effective texts of any form, for any purpose, for any audience.  The following chapter is a template that you can use to generate ideas, plan and compose texts.

The second topic will explain some of the more common text forms that you are likely to come across in class and your studies.


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