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HSC English Standard – Language, Identity and Culture Study Guide
Return to HSC Resources
- 184.108.40.206 Prose fiction
- 220.127.116.11 Poetry
- 18.104.22.168 Drama
- 22.214.171.124 Nonfiction
- 126.96.36.199 Film
- 188.8.131.52 Media
- 1.1.2 Initial considerations
- 1.2 What is culture and identity?
- 1.3.1 The power of language to shape cultural experiences
- 1.3.2 Affirming and challenging cultural assumptions
- 184.108.40.206 Individual identity
- 220.127.116.11 Collective identity
- 18.104.22.168 Prose
- 22.214.171.124 Film and media
- 126.96.36.199 Poetry
- 188.8.131.52 Theatre
- 184.108.40.206 Speeches
- 220.127.116.11 Genre
- 18.104.22.168 Contextual movements
- 1.3.5 Information, ideas, values and attitudes
- 1.4.1 What to expect from Paper 2
- 1.4.2 Constructing an essay
- 1.5.1 Final tips
The Language, Identity and Culture module refers to the unit of study that has been prescribed by NESA to the English Standard course. Broadly speaking, the role of the student is to analyse the ways in which our self-concept, sense of identity and community belonging are shaped by certain texts and features of language. While this may sound extremely vague and therefore quite overwhelming, there are very specific elements that one should ensure is included in their response that the rubric covers.
In this study guide, we will deconstruct the key aspects of the Language, Identity and Culture rubric and how they should be engaged with in a response. Then, we will look at what to expect when sitting Paper 2, as well as a general guide to writing a response for this module.
Your school will assign you ONE of the following prescribed texts to study. These texts have been selected by NESA because they, in more ways than one, explore the unique ways in which language and identity share an intimate relationship and ultimately influence each other in a way that is deeply significant for both individuals and communities. Hence, it is important to ask yourself why and how your prescribed text relates to this module exactly.
- ‘The Drover’s Wife’, ‘The Union Buries Its Dead’, ‘Shooting the Moon’, ‘Our Pipes’, ‘The Loaded Dog’
- Small Island (2004) by Andrea Levy
- ‘This is where it begins’ by Merlinda Bobis
- ‘Home’ by Miriam Wei Wei Lo
- ‘New Accents’ by Ouyang Yu
- ‘Mother’ by Vuong Pham
- ‘Circular Breathing’ by Jaya Savige
- ‘Translucent Jade’by Maureen Ten (Ten Ch’in Ü)
- ‘Trance’, ‘Unearth’, ‘Oombulgarri’, ‘Eyes’, ‘Leaves’, ‘Key’
- Summer of the Seventeenth Doll (2012) by Ray Lawler
- Pygmalion (2003) by Bernard Shaw
- Shafana and Aunt Sarrinah (2010) by Alana Valentine
- Unpolished Gem (2006) by Alice Pung
- One Night the Moon (2001) directed by Rachel Perkins
- The Castle (1997) directed by Rob Sitch
- Reindeer in my Saami Heart (2016) by Janet Merewether
No matter which text you are assigned as your prescribed text, it must be analysed in terms of the Language, Identity and Culture rubric. Some initial considerations you should deliberate before writing a response in order to consolidate your understanding of the texts and the module include:
- Exactly which cultures and aspects of culture are being portrayed in the text
- The composer’s purpose in creating the text—is it to provide commentary on cultural issues, spark a feeling of community in responders, challenge cultural beliefs and stereotypes or a culmination of all of the above?
- The literary significance of the texts (awards, accolades, critical and commercial reception) suggesting a broader response to their cultural significance in not only the world of art, but in everyday people using them as mediums through which they can better understand others and their own cultural identities
- How form, structure, genre and style deeply influence the ways in which messages about cultural identity are depicted by the composer and interpreted by the responder
What is culture and identity?
The terms ‘culture’ and ‘identity’ are indeed central to the module. However, they may initially seem very vague and confusing. Truthfully, culture and identity have various definitions – none of which are unanimously agreed upon. If you ask yourself how you would define your own identity, it would be very difficult to narrow such a definition down to one statement. However, generally speaking, there are some ways in which humans tend to categorise and relate their cultural identity to, such as:
- Language/dialect spoken
- Sexual identity and orientation
- Socio-economic class
- Geographical location
It is important to note that cultural identity is not felt in a vacuum – each of these elements interact constantly to form an intangible experience that we understand to be our ‘self.’ Moreover, every person experiences culture in different, often conflicting, ways. Above all, in studying Module A, we should remain sensitive to cultural issues and ultimately understand that our perceptions of what others’ cultures are are often based on rather external cues (such as food, music, dress, language). In reality, culture is made up of various ‘unseen’ aspects, including (but not limited to):
- Fairness and justice
- Raising children
Indeed, the most significant aspect of culture is that it dictates our every action, decision, belief and thought. Hence, it is imperative that you understand the different definitions of culture and identity, as well as reflect upon their implications for the individual and society.
Deconstructing the rubric
As with any module, we must first look to the Language, Identity and Culture rubric to understand what it really is that we are asked to do. In fact, every potential HSC examination question can come only from this rubric—though at times it could be less obvious and masked by synonymous language—so it is imperative that we study the links between your text and the major points in the Language, Identity and Culture rubric.
Let’s look at some example questions you could receive in the HSC examination and what aspect of the rubric it most closely reflects (remember, some questions can be a combination of different elements of the rubric!). Then, we will deconstruct what the statement actually means and, most importantly, how you can apply it to your response.
The power of language to shape cultural experiences
- Potential question: To what extent does your text exhibit the complex ways in which language can shape cultural experiences? In your response, analyse the manipulation of the textual features in your prescribed text.
- Rubric statement from which the question is derived from: ‘Language has the power to both reflect and shape individual and collective identity.’
Language is powerful, and there is no doubt about it. It is the way in which we express our feelings, thoughts and musings to others. We constantly scrutinise and analyse the words of others, particularly in the media today. Without language, it would be very difficult for us to form relationships with others, bond about the things that bring us closer together. Think about it – how different would your life be if you weren’t able to communicate with others? Truthfully, there is only really one answer to this question, which is that life would not even be possible without the existence of language. And this doesn’t just include written language – eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, colour, body language are all types of language.
This idea extends to the power of language to shape cultural experiences, too. The way in which we understand our own or others’ cultures is dependent on language, whether that is in the form of reading a political article on Facebook about K-pop stars or the stories that our parents tell us about our ancestors and family history. In turn, significant works of art can also influence cultural notions of identity. For example, think of how the Bible has shaped so many of the morals, values, laws and social norms in Western society. Think of the power of Marx’s The Communist Manifesto in revolutionising Russian culture during the Russian Revolution. Think of Anne Frank’s diary and its monumental impact on changing the attitudes of Germans and cultures across the world towards issues such as genocide, anti-Semitism and human rights. Hence, there is a constant interchange between language, identity and culture, where each of these elements are always influencing one another – the bottom line being that language has the power to change our perceptions of what cultural identity is.
Affirming and challenging cultural assumptions
- Potential question: ‘Cultural generalisations are, at times, inevitable. This, however, does not take away from a story’s ability to challenge and subvert an audience’s expectations about cultural identity.’ To what extent is this statement true of your prescribed text?
- Rubric statement from which the question is derived from: ‘Through their responding and composing students deepen their understanding of how language can be used to affirm, ignore, reveal, challenge or disrupt prevailing assumptions and beliefs about themselves, individuals and cultural groups.’
Everybody holds stereotypes about certain groups of people. This is inevitable, and whilst generalisations are not inherently damaging (they help us to quickly understand and categorise information in the world around us) they definitely can be based on very shallow assumptions of how others act and think. Hence, it is the aim of many composers – particularly those of a diverse cultural group – to challenge, inform and subvert our expectations of identity, whether that is our own or others’.
However, not every text you study will be challenging your assumptions. You may find that some simply affirm what you already believed. Or, perhaps, it is a combination of both – in some respects, your text reveals something new to you, but otherwise it holds up to your expectations of what a particular culture is. Regardless, your job is the same. As a student studying this module, you must analyse the ways in which composers do this. In other words, what language devices and techniques are being used to portray these complex, diverse and challenging representations of cultural identity?
It is also impertinent to think of the cultural impact of the text on the beliefs of its immediate and eventual audiences in relation to this particular rubric statement. Try to put yourself in the shoes of somebody who studied your text when it was first published – what kind of contextual concerns does the text address, how might have the general population received the text, what could be the lasting impact of this text on future audiences? Incorporate these ideas into an argument for a more complex, thoughtful take on this rubric statement.
Individual and collective identity
- Potential question: Discuss the ways in which your prescribed text has explored both individual and collective notions of identity.
- Rubric statement from which the question is derived from: ‘Students study one prescribed text in detail, as well as a range of textual material to explore, analyse and assess the ways in which meaning about individual and community identity, as well as cultural perspectives, is shaped in and through texts.’
As mentioned earlier in this study guide, the notion of identity is incredibly multifaceted and complex. It means something different to every person and group. Hence, it is important to make a distinction between the notions of individual and collective identity.
What separates the two? Truthfully, the difference between these categories is not exactly clear. What the individual considers to be their identity can and does intertwine with community notions of identity. Most simply, collective identity can be defined as the sense of belonging and commonality between a group of people whereas individual identity is a person’s unique experience of this. Individual identity can be the intersection of various group identities, but a community’s identity is also comprised of various individuals and their experience of cultural identity. The relationship between these two ideas is hence very clearly interlinked.
Examples of individual identity include:
- Memories and experiences
- Family life
- Personality traits
- Physical traits
- Childhood and upbringing
- Moral values
- Social standing at school
- Academic achievement
Collective identity can generally be defined as being more broad and applicable to the experiences of a group of people. For example:
- Contextual era
- Dominant political discourses
- Language spoken
Textual form and conventions
- Potential question: Explain the significance of form in expressing and evaluating cultural perspectives in your prescribed text.
- Rubric statement from which the question is derived from: ‘They investigate how textual forms and conventions, as well as language structures and features, are used to communicate.’
Form plays one of the most integral roles in the representations of identity. In fact, the form of the text itself can be an important commentary on the human experience of culture. Discussing form in an answer is certainly ideal, but not essential unless the question specifically asks for it. Even still, it should always be considered whilst undertaking a study of the texts and explored whenever possible. The following are examples, but certainly not a complete or even extensive list, of common features or tropes that can be found in familiar text types:
- Is it sparse, eloquent and flowery, colloquial or meant to reflect a certain dialect/accent? Why would the author choose to write the voice way?
Film and media
- Camera angles
- Lighting as a means to create mood
- Taking advantage of the multimedia form—using music, visual techniques and dialogue/text to portray their message instead of simply written language as prose fiction would do
- Structuring of the stanzas
- Remember that poetry is meant to be heard, and not simply read. There is careful section made by poets as to the actual sounds of the words or phrasing they adopt as to aurally accentuate certain features
- Direct engagement with the audience works best in forms such as theatre due to the immediate presence of the audience in front of the stage
- Stage effects
- What directions does the playwright give in the script? Why do they add these details (or, conversely, choose to leave it vague enough for the production’s director/actors to interpret it themselves)?
- Similar to theatre, live speeches are often given in the immediate presence of an audience, meaning good speeches must be able to directly engage with the responder
- Black humour
- Dystopian fiction
- Historical monograph
- Regency era
It is not enough to simply state these aspects of the text’s form. Depending on the texts you are studying, analyse its genre and context and understand how every sequence of the work is a deliberate choice made to contribute to these features (or, perhaps, challenge or pioneer them). Think of the form, structural features and nature of language as deliberate choices made in order to most effectively tell the story they needed to tell in the text—they aid composers in exploring language, culture and identity as a medium through which they can communicate with the responder.
Information, ideas, values and attitudes
- Potential question: How are the ideas, values and attitudes of your text expressed by the composer, and what effect does this have on audiences?
- Rubric statement from which the question is derived from: ‘… communicate information, ideas, values and attitudes which inform and influence perceptions of ourselves and other people and various cultural perspectives.’
As previously established, identity can comprise of a complex combination of facets and aspects. Each culture – as well as each individual that identifies with that culture – holds its own values, attitudes and ideas about human existence. Our cultural identity can also affect our knowledge of ourselves as well as other people. It is necessary for you, as the student, to consider all of these issues when writing about how texts portray culture and identity.
One important note is to make a distinction between these four notions of information, ideas, values and attitudes, as these terms are not necessarily interchangeable. Information refers to the knowledge that we have of something, the facts and beliefs that we hold. It may not be complete (and, in most cases, such a feat would be impossible), but it is our perception of what is true and false about a particular subject. Ideas refer to the conception of something, like a thought, as a result of the knowledge and information we have. Values are what we believe to be important to us and hold dear to our hearts – for example, ambition, family, kindness and freedom can be values, whereas social class, politics, war and growing up are themes, not values. Lastly, attitudes are our opinions about certain themes. Using the given example above, our cultural attitudes towards politics could be that the government should not have any say in the freedoms of individuals.
Ensure that you familiarise yourself with these definitions such that, if your exam question were to include these terms, you know exactly what to write about. If you take the wrong definition of a term, your mark will be negatively impacted.
Writing a Language, Identity and Culture essay
What to expect from paper 2.
Now that you have familiarised yourself with precisely what NESA is asking of you in this module, you should begin to understand what you should expect from Paper 2. The following is a summary of key points you should know long before going in to the exam:
- Section I – Module A response
- Section II – Module B response
- Section III – Module C response
- This means you should be devoting approximately 40 minutes to each section. While you don’t have to evenly divide time between the three modules, we recommend that you stick to this guideline as much as possible
- All parts are out of 20 marks each
- You must only write in blue or black pen
Being a guide to Module A, this study guide will focus on Section I. This section is relatively straightforward in that you are given one question only and are expected to write a full essay with an introduction, body paragraphs and a conclusion. The question will draw from any aspect of the Language, Identity and Culture rubric (including specifying form!), though it may sometimes include quotes and extracts or rewrite statements from the rubric in a different way. You must come prepared having studied your prescribed text in great depth.
Constructing an essay
In any English essay, the following structure should generally be followed.
- General statement about the module (e.g. ‘Culture and language have a reciprocal relationship – each informs the other in significant ways.’)
- Thesis statement that defines key terms of the question and makes a judgement on the question asked
- Title, composer, date of publication and form
- Conclude using an evaluative adverb to demonstrate how you will develop a thoughtful response
- Topic sentence: explicitly reference language from the question, restate your thesis in terms of your theme
- Context/elaborate sentence(s): emphasise more specifically what you mean by the topic sentence, especially in terms of what happens in the text. Two sentences maximum
- Analysis: using evidence to support your topic and elaboration sentences—there must be a direct link or progression of logic made between the analysis and the argument. Deconstruct approximately two quotes, but ensure that you are focused on quality over quantity
- Concluding sentence: use an evaluative adverb such as purposefully, cleverly, insightfully (e.g. Significantly, this text projects the necessity of … ) in order to assess the question and your argument as a whole
- Re-address main ideas/topic sentences of body paragraphs
- Make an overall judgement about the texts in terms of the question
- Optional: finish with an insightful afterthought about the role of texts in our cultural experience
Of course, this is only a general guide to writing a sound essay. As frustrating as it can be to hear, there is simply no single scaffold you can follow to impress a marker, as each module will have different requirements, every student’s writing style will differ, and markers will have different tastes.
The most important advice to keep in mind when writing an essay is to have a strong thesis. Learn to define the question in your own terms —this is what your thesis is, not simply a restatement of the question. By defining the key phrases in the introduction, you can manipulate any given question so that it fits your plan/ideas about the text. If you state this thesis at throughout your body paragraphs (not simply the topic and concluding sentences), your essay will have a strong argument and persuade the marker that you are confident in your case. It is similarly important to ensure that your arguments always come back to the intersection of language, identity and culture. That is, you should be able to clearly explain how your quotes or ideas are relevant to the prevailing concept of cultural identity and how that is expressed through language features.
The Language, Identity and Culture module can certainly seem extremely overwhelming at times. There are as many aspects of the rubric to familiarise yourself with as there are aspects to the relationship between language, identity and culture itself—that is, after all, the overarching purpose of this module. It seeks to encourage you to understand precisely how art can be used as a facet to both influence and express the diverse relationships we have with our identity.
- Avoid writing memorised essays. It is incredibly easy to recognise when a student has done so, and markers are ultimately judging you based on how well you are able to think critically and not simply regurgitate an essay
- Write lots and lots of practise essays. You may (and should) begin setting no timer so that you can clearly express your thoughts without timed pressure, but gradually move on to putting yourself under exam conditions so that the actual assessment will feel familiar to you. This, as well as actually writing essays out on paper and not simply on a computer, is going to make a huge difference that is relatively simple to adopt
- Themes and rubric statements can and do mix. For example, the rubric notions of ‘culture’ and ‘identity’ often intertwine. This is because texts are not produced against and life is not experienced through such distinct lines or categories. They are only here to provide basic structure to your essay so that you and the marker can better understand the point you are trying to make
- It is ideal to discuss form in your essay even if the question does not ask for it. Of course, in that case, it would not have to be your primary concern, but even a sentence or two about the structural features or language used in the texts could show the marker that you really understand the relationship between texts and cultural identity
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IB English HLE Explained
Free introductory guide to IB English Higher Level Essay (HLE) by IB44 and IB45 graduates Lareina Shen and Saesha Grover.
In this guide, LitLearn students (and 2022 IB grads!) Lareina Shen and Saesha Grover share their wisdom on how to conquer the IB English Higher Level Essay (HLE).
Lareina achieved an IB44, and Saesha achieved an IB45 as well as the coveted IB7 in IB English Literature HL, so you are in safe hands.
Meet your instructor Jackson Huang, Founder of LitLearn. His mission is to make IB English as pain-free as possible with fun, practical lessons. Jackson scored an IB45 and was accepted to Harvard, Amherst, Williams Colleges, and full scholarships to University of Melbourne & Queensland.
What is IB English HLE?
The HL Essay (HLE) is a 1200-1500 word essay about a text studied in the IB English course. For Lang Lit, the work you choose to analyze can be literary or non-literary, but for IB English Literature the text must be literary.
The HLE will make up 25% of your final IB English HL grade , and it is graded externally. You must choose your own line of inquiry (i.e. a question that you will answer in your HLE–more on this later).
How do I choose my text for HLE?
Do NOT choose the “easiest” text. Life is always better when you do things you're interested in, and that advice applies to the HLE, too. Choose the literary / non-literary work that interests you the most, so that you can (semi?)-enjoy the HLE planning and writing process.
You could start by thinking of a theme that you find particularly interesting and determining which text studied in class demonstrates this theme well.
How do I choose my line of inquiry for HLE?
The line of inquiry is the core question that you will answer in your essay. A quick example might be:
"To what extent is masculinity undermined by the characterisation of Little Thomas?"
Now, it's your job to forge your destiny and come up with your own line of inquiry. But it's not a complete free-for all! There are rules. The main rule is that your line of inquiry must fall under one of the 7 main concepts of IB English (see below for a quick summary).
This summary is vague, so let's go in-depth on a couple of these concepts to really show you what you should be doing in the HLE.
Identity is what makes you, YOU. Here are some questions the concern your own personal identity:
- What is your favourite colour? And why is it your favourite?
- What makes you different from others? Why do you think these qualities came to be?
- How would someone describe you in three words?
Now apply this same logic to characters within your text.
- How would you describe this character in three words?
- How do their actions within a text influence your view of their identity?
- How has the author crafted this character to make you view the character in a certain way?
Let's take a look at a concrete example of how we might choose evidence and quotes for a HLE on cultural identity. This example is based on a Vietnamese work in translation “Ru” by author Kim Thúy. For context, “Ru” is an autobiographical fictional account which explores Kim Thúy's move from Vietnam to Canada as an immigrant and her consequent struggles. The structure of her novel is largely lyrical and poetic.
Let's look at a section from her novel that may help us come up with an essay idea based on the concept of Identity. When she returns to Vietnam, she attends a restaurant, however this becomes a major awakening for her in terms of how she views her own personal identity. Kim narrates within her novel:
The first time I carried a briefcase, the first time I went to a restaurant school for young adults in Hanoi, wearing heels and a straight skirt, the waiter for my table didn't understand why I was speaking Vietnamese with him. Page 77, Rú
This is a perfect quote for the Identity concept. Can you see why? Let's think through it together…
Why would the waiter be confused if Kim, a “briefcase”-carrying individual in “heels” and a “straight skirt”, was speaking Vietnamese with him?
What does being “Vietnamese” look like to the waiter? Why does Kim not conform to his expectation? Was it perhaps due to what she was wearing?
Now, if we look at the section which follows this in the novel, we are able to see the impact this had on the character of Kim's sense of identity.
the young waiter reminded me that I couldn't have everything, that I no longer had the right to declare I was Vietnamese because I no longer had their fragility, their uncertainty, their fears. And he was right to remind me. Page 77, Rú
Here, we can clearly see that this character is now questioning her Vietnamese cultural identity. This is just one example that demonstrates the concept of Identity.
Culture seems to be this confusing thing. Does it have to do with religion? Race? Beliefs? What does it mean? Does the monster from Frankenstein fit into a certain culture?
The easiest way to put it is this: Culture is the way someone lives. It is their “way of life.” Think of it as an umbrella term. “Culture” can include so many different things; the list just goes on, for example religion, values, customs, beliefs, cuisine, etc.
Now think, how would I form an essay from this concept?
- When you read a text in class, you will notice that authors let you form an opinion on the culture of certain characters or groups within a text, but how is this done?
- How does the author represent the culture of a certain community?
- What types of patterns in daily routines are discussed?
It seems odd writing an essay about “creativity” because… like… how can anyone definitively say what ‘counts' as being creative–or not? When I say the word creativity , I think of new inventions, or maybe those weird and wacky art installations living inside those ‘modern art' museums. But hey, what's creative to me might not be creative to you!
When formulating a HLE on the concept of creativity we have two main pointers for you. Look for:
- Interesting + Unique techniques or literary devices used within a text by the author. You can learn more in the Learn Analysis section of LitLearn.
- Recurring stylistic choices by the author
Now, for this concept, let's look at how we might select supportive evidence and quotations for a HLE on creativity within the narrative style of author Mary Shelley in “Frankenstein”. The narrative style uses epistolary narration . This is a narrative technique in which a story is told through letters. This was something that I found both interesting and recurring within Frankenstein, which I believe worked to create a personal touch within the novel.
Additionally, Mary Shelley allows different characters to narrate Frankenstein during different volumes. Let's investigate this! I have written out different character profiles of the narrators below:
These 3 characters, each relate a part of the novel Frankenstein. This is an example of a creative authorial choice that allows us, as readers to explore different points of view within the text. This is just one example of a creative aspect of a text which you can analyze for your HLE.
Representation is all about how something is portrayed, conveyed, shown, described, illustrated, depicted . There are many different things that can be ‘represented' within a text, and it doesn't have to be tangible.
For instance, you can look at how a belief, idea or attitude is depicted within a text through different characters or devices.
Again, let's explore a concrete example to make things clear: this time the graphic novel “Persepolis”. We'll consider an HLE on how a text represents the impact of political turmoil on society .
Chapter 10 of “Persepolis” highlights societal changes occurring due to the Iranian Revolution. The panels below list the authorial choices relevant to the negative representation of political change in a society. When looking at the techniques highlighted in the slides below, think about how you feel when you look at the panels below. Can you sense a more positive or negative feeling?
Cool, but what do we do to turn all this into an actual HL essay? Here is a sample response. The introduction might begin like this:
In the captivating graphic novel “Persepolis,” the author Marjane Satrapi explores the social and political impacts of the Iranian revolution. In particular, Satrapi conveys a disapproving viewpoint on political turmoil within the text. Throughout the graphic novel, Satrapi carefully represents how social isolation, hypocrisy and confusion is experienced by a young girl living in Tehran, as a result of political turmoil. Example HLE Introduction
Then, in a body paragraph, on one of the key ideas mentioned above, we could analyze the different literary techniques. For example, Panel 1 is a great representation of the experience of confusion in the midst of political turmoil:
Marji is the younger girl pictured in the panels above. While her parents appear quite concerned by the news on the TV, she appears to not be in full comprehension of the cause for their distress. This is demonstrated by the visual imagery and dialogue, in panel 7, for instance, if you observe the facial expressions by each of the characters. Example of analysis in body paragraph
This is just a short example from one particular text. To help you unpack any text, try look for the following when analyzing chapter to chapter:
- What is the main idea of the chapter?
- Why did the author write it? What purpose does it serve?
- What do you believe is the overarching importance of the passage?
If you're having trouble picking your text and line of inquiry, then use this simple 20-minute process to brainstorm potential questions for your HLE:
- For each text / non-literary work, go through each concept in the table below.
- Write down a question for each of the two prompts for each category.
- Repeat for all of your texts.
- Pick the question-text combination that has the greatest potential for strong analysis.
How do I ensure my HLE question has a good scope?
Choosing a question with good scope is extremely important, and it's one of the biggest challenges in the HLE. Here's why:
- If your scope is too broad , you may have too much to write about in order to answer the question, and therefore you won't be able to write deep analysis (which is super important–more on this later…)
- If your scope is too narrow , you may not have enough to write about and end up overanalyzing unnecessary and obscure details. Also something to avoid!
So, to help you get the balance just right , here are three examples of HLE questions, specifically for the concept of Identity which we mentioned in the table above (by the way, the example is a made-up novel for illustration purposes).
- Too broad: “How does Irene Majov in her novel Deadly Men effectively make her narrator a powerful mouthpiece?”
- Too narrow: “How does Irene Majov in her novel Deadly Men effectively make her narrator a powerful mouthpiece for the concerns of Asian-Americans toward discrimination in the workforce in the 21st century?”
- Just right: “How does Irene Majov in her novel Deadly Men effectively make her narrator a powerful mouthpiece for the concerns of Asian-Americans in the 21st century?”
How to get a 7 on IB English HLE
There are many things that contribute to a 7 in your HLE and your IB English grade overall. But if we had to boil it down to one secret, one essential fact… then it'd have to be this: Get really good at analysis .
Analysis is the key to a 7 in IB English. It doesn't matter if it's Paper 1, Paper 2, HLE, IO… You must learn how to analyze quotes at a deep level, and structure your analysis in a way that flows and delights your teachers and examiners.
Start with the basics
Start with the basic foundations of analysis for free inside LitLearn's Learn Analysis course.
Our free and Pro resources have helped IB English students skyrocket their grade in weeks, days and even overnight... Learn Analysis for IB English , the simplest guide to a 7 in IB English.
No sign up or credit card required.
Free signup required.
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Level up to Advanced Analysis
Since you're in HL, you'll also be needing Advanced Analysis skills if you want to impress your examiner. We've got all of that covered inside our Pro lessons.
Also, you'll need to find good quotes for your text. Some good sources where you can find relevant quotes include Goodreads , SparkNotes , LitCharts , and Cliffnotes . Of course, you could just find quotes yourself directly–this will ensure your quotes are unique.
Understanding the IB English HLE rubric
An essential step to getting a high mark on the HL Essay is understanding the rubric! It is SO important that you know what IB English examiners are looking for when grading your essay, as this helps you to shape the content of your essay to match (or even exceed) their expectations.
The IB English HL Essay is graded out of 20 marks . There are 4 criteria, each worth 5 marks.
Use the checklist below to make sure you're not making simple mistakes! Note that this is not the official marking criteria, and I strongly recommend that you reading the official rubric provided by your teacher.
Criterion A: Knowledge, understanding, and interpretation
- Accurate summary of text in introduction
- Focused and informative thesis statement
- Effective and relevant quotes
- Relevant and effective summary and ending statement in conclusion
Criterion B: Analysis and evaluation
- Relevant analysis of a variety of stylistic features
- Relevant analysis of tone and/or atmosphere
- Relevant analysis of broader authorial choices i.e. characterization, point of view, syntax, irony, etc.
Criterion C: Focus, organization, and development
- Introduction, body paragraphs, conclusion
- Organized body paragraphs – topic sentence, evidence, concluding statement/link to question
- Appropriate progression of ideas and arguments in which evidence (i.e. quotes) are effectively implemented
Criterion D: Language
- Use expansions (e.g. “do not”) instead of contractions (e.g. “don't”)
- Use of a variety of connecting phrases e.g. “furthermore”, “nonetheless”, “however”, etc.
- Complete sentence structures and subject-verb agreement
- Correct usage of punctuation
- Appropriate register – no slang
- Historic present tense : the use of present tense when recounting past events. For example, we want to write “In The Hunger Games , Peeta and Katniss work together to win as a district” instead of using the word “worked”.
- Avoid flowery/dictionary language just to sound smart; it is distracting and difficult to read. As long as you concisely communicate your message using appropriate language, you will score a high mark under this criterion.
Here's everything we discussed:
- IB English HLE is tough work! Start early.
- Brainstorm using the table of concepts to come up with a strong HLE question. Don't give up on this!
- Analysis is the key to a 7 in IB English HLE (and in fact all IB English assessment). Check out LitLearn's course Learn Analysis for IB English for immediate help on the exact steps to improve in IB English analysis.
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Higher Level Essay
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- Introduction : Curriculum Components
- Writing: Skills-Based Writing Instruction
- Routines: Instruction
- For All Learners : Access
- Unit 1: Identity
- Unit 2: Personality
- Unit 3: Society and its Structure
Unit 4: Otherness
- Unit 5: Challenging Truths/Coming-of-Age
- Unit 6: Establishing Truths/Coming-of-Age
- Unit 1: The Quest
- Unit 2: The Unlikely Hero
- Unit 3: Dystopia
- Unit 4: The Anti-Hero
- Unit 5: The Monster
- Unit 6: The Tragic Hero
- Unit 1: The Contemporary American Experience
- Unit 2: The Creation of the American
- Unit 3: The American and the Changing Landscape
- Unit 4: The Reawakening of the American
- ELA Regents: Resources
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- ELA Regents: Writing from Sources Essay
- ELA Regents : Text Analysis Essay
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Unit Assessment : Skills-Based Text Analysis Essay Rubric
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Rhetorical Analysis of Write or Wrong Identity by Emily Vallowe
Added on 2021-09-15
Added on 2021-09-15
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iRubric: Cultural Identity Reflective Essay Rubric
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- Cultural Identity Narrative Rubric
Cultural Identity Narrative Rubric - Essay Example
- Subject: Visual Arts & Film Studies
- Type: Essay
- Level: Undergraduate
- Pages: 3 (750 words)
- Downloads: 3
- Author: abner44
Extract of sample "Cultural Identity Narrative Rubric"
Since the name of this dish combines two completely different and complimenting meals, some may be confused whether it is a rice like cake or cake like rice or both! Rice and cake don’t even serve the same purpose in a traditional feast, with the former being the main course and the latter being the sweet dish or the dessert that is to be served after the main course. In this sense, the name makes it sound like a dish that has mixed the main course with the dessert, that is quite insane to happen.
I have resolved to discuss the Korean rice-cake for two main reasons; first, my father owns a Korean rice-cake company that was previously run by my grandfather and his father even before him. So this company has yet served three generations of my family. Secondly, I want to solve the mystery of its name that I am sure many would like me to do. Along the way, I shall tell you what it is, why it is popular among the Koreans and how to cook it. I shall also briefly discuss my future plans of making this dish a specialty of our company.
Rice-cake is an umbrella term for a variety of foods made in rice that are given a compact form so that they look like a compact pastry. So it is basically a main course meal that looks like a piece of cake. It is not actually a cake! Rice-cake recipes are made from rice. Rice may be boiled or fried with vegetables. It is pretty much usual rice we eat but when the scattered rice are compacted, it does not only improve their texture but also enhances their aroma and taste. It makes the rice convenient to eat and elegant to present.
Rice-cakes have a variety of benefits. They are energy boosters, low in calories, large in fiber content and great to the taste. Rice-cake is one of the very few things I can recall from the days of my earliest childhood. I was only three years old when my father established a small rice-cake company. He started the business from a little shop in the corner of the market that was visible from the window of my room. Our apartment was just across the road. That shop paid my father off really good.
Savings of the first month were ten times as much as what my father would save in a whole year before that. My father would often take me along while going to the shop. The aroma of fresh and tender rice still mesmerizes me. I was too little at that time, so my father’s friends and coworkers used to cuddle me. In their attempt to associate me with my father’s business, they would call me rice names. “Rice cake, son of grains and Korean food” were some of the names they would call me. It has always been an honor to be associated with rice since it has brought such a profitable business to my father.
I am generally a reluctant eater, though saying “no” to rice-cake is impossible. I have grown up with this food. If there is one thing I am made up of, its rice-cake. It looks good, tastes good, smells good, feels good, what else can one want in a meal? When I was only a hundred days old, my family arranged a party, called ‘Doljanchi’, for me. It is a traditional Korean celebration of a child’s hundredth day after birth. “The number 100 has an inherent meaning of maturity and perfection, signifying a baby passes through perfection period safely as a human being” (Life in Korea, n.d.).
This day has special meaning in Korean culture, and some people believe that it is the time, God answers the parents’
- Wedding Cake
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Week 2 Reflection
By Nicholas Javier
On February 19, 2024
In Experiential Reflections , Javier
Writing this a little bit later than I would have liked, as it had slipped my mind over the weekend. This week’s experience was much better than the first week, and I think a significant component of the experience was a much more individualized process. The folks who we ended up working within the Post D program ended up being some of the kids I had the first week, namely J, J, and another, while I met a new student named R.
I ended up working with R with Kristine through the discussion and getting to know him was much easier and much richer. It became clear through our discussion that he very much loved his family, his sisters, and his nephews especially whom he pretty much equates to his own kids in a sense of closeness. He tells about the car crash he was in, and he expresses regret over the “stupid” decisions that he made that brought him here, but he also seems to have many hopes and dreams and plans for when he gets out.
He discussed how he wanted to go to college, possibly for engineering — and how he wanted to also go to trade school, how he wanted to fix cars. When he envisioned his future, he pictured a happy family with three kids, many cars, an amazing man cave, and a career as an athlete. His superpower was to Rewind Time, which would essentially give him all the time in the world to make his dreams come true.
He was quite friendly, and he seemed pretty invested in the storytelling component. He had some difficulties in terms of a train of thought, often repeating certain lines that he had already stated, and I learned in the aftermath that he has certain difficulties in terms of writing that will require assistance from the teachers as he goes through the project, but I really like him. He is a friendly kid, and he talks about starting a clothes-selling business once he graduates.
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