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NSW Syllabuses


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Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Peoples

The term describes people who are either Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander or are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander.

An Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander person is someone who:

  • is of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander descent
  • identifies as an Aboriginal person and/or Torres Strait Islander person, and
  • is accepted as such by the Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander community in which they live.
Aboriginal Cultural Protocols
Aboriginal Cultural Protocols describe appropriate ways of behaving, communicating and showing respect for diversity of histories and cultures. This involves appreciation of the knowledge, standing and status of people within the local Aboriginal community. Protocols inevitably vary between communities, and between people within a community. In establishing partnerships between Aboriginal communities and industries or professions, it is especially important that protocols are acknowledged and respected.
Aboriginal English

Aboriginal English is a dialect of Standard Australian English. It is a distinctly Aboriginal kind of English and is a powerful vehicle for the expression of Aboriginal identity (see Diane Eade 1995, Aboriginal English, Board of Studies NSW, Sydney).

active listening
A formal listening technique that develops communication skills through the processes of understanding information, remembering and retaining it and responding appropriately.
active voice

(see voice)


A word class that describes a noun to add extra meaning. Different types of adjectives include:

  •       possessive adjectives, for example my, his, her
  •       numbering adjectives, for example two, many, lots of
  •       describing adjectives, for example big, old, yellow, beautiful
  •       comparing adjectives, for example more delicate, best, bigger
  •       classifying adjectives, for example Persian cat, air transport.

A word class that modifies:

  • a verb, for example 'She sings beautifully.'
  • an adjective, for example 'He is really interesting.'
  • another adverb, for example 'She walks very slowly.'

In English many adverbs have an -ly ending.


An adverbial phrase or clause contributes additional information to the main clause. Generally, these will answer the questions:

  • how, for example 'They walked to town very quickly.'
  • when, for example 'She had dinner after everyone had left.'
  • where, for example 'I spoke with him outside the house.'
  • why, for example 'Tom felt tired because he had run a marathon.'

An adverbial can also contribute evaluative interpersonal meaning to a clause, for example 'Frankly, I don't care'. Adverbs, adverb groups, prepositional phrases, nouns and noun groups can function as adverbials.

Relating to a sense of beauty or an appreciation of artistic expression. The selection of texts that are recognised as having aesthetic or artistic value is an important focus of the study of literature.

A story in prose fiction, poetry, drama or visual language that has more than one level of meaning. The characters, events and situations can represent other characters, events and situations. For example, the witch trials in The Crucible are an allegory of the US HUAC hearings in the 1950s. Allegories often represent moral or political situations.

The recurrence, in close succession, of the same consonant sounds at the beginning of words. In 'ripe, red raspberry', the repetition of the 'r' sound creates a rich aural effect, suggesting the lusciousness of the fruit.
A deliberate and implicit reference to a person or event, or a work of art which draws on knowledge and experiences shared by the composer and responder.
alphabetic principle
The awareness of the systematic relationship between letters and sounds. This involves understanding that letters represent sounds, that speech can be turned into print and that print can be turned into speech.
alternative readings

Interpretations of a text that vary from the most widely understood or traditional interpretations. For example, Wuthering Heights is traditionally read as a novel about intense human relationships but contemporary alternative readings include a political reading (seeing it as a novel of social class and bourgeois exploitation in Victorian England) and a gendered reading (seeing it as a novel of gender stereotypes).

A comparison demonstrating the similarities between two things, people or situations. It is a device to clarify an idea through a connection. Analogies are often used in persuading, explaining or arguing a point.

A simulation of movement created by displaying a series of pictures, or frames, for example a cartoon.


A word or word group with a meaning opposite to that of another word or word group, for example hot (cold), go away (come back).

apostrophe (')

A punctuation marker used to:

  • indicate possession, for example 'Rosie's cup'. Note: an apostrophe attaches to nouns, not possessive pronouns such as hers, his, its, theirs, ours.
  • indicate missing letters or numbers in a contracted expression, for example 'He's gone home', 'It's news to me'.
When one noun group immediately follows another with the same reference, they are said to be in apposition, for example 'our neighbour, Mr Grasso ...', 'Canberra, the capital of Australia ...'.
The act of discerning quality, value and enjoyment in imaginative, informative and persuasive texts.
Taking an object or text from one context and using it in another context. The process can allow new insights into the original text or object and emphasise contextual differences. Appropriation also gives extra insight into the newly created or used text or object. Texts can be appropriated for a range of purposes, including satirical criticism, consideration of existing ideas in a new context and exploration of cultural assumptions. The mass media frequently appropriate words, images and icons from other cultural contexts. Films and novels are often appropriations of earlier texts.
The reasons and evidence given to support an idea or a proposition.

There are three articles in the English language: a, an, the. Articles are placed before nouns and form part of the noun group when referring to either a specific person or thing (the) or a non-specific person or thing (a, an). The is called a definite article; a and an are called indefinite articles.

The intended group of readers, listeners or viewers that the writer, designer, filmmaker or speaker is addressing.

The composer or originator of a work (for example a novel, play, poem, film, website, speech, essay, autobiography). Author is most commonly used in relation to novels.

auxiliary verb

A verb that gives further semantic or syntactic information about a main or full verb. The most common auxiliary verbs are be, do and have. Note that they are only auxiliary verbs when connected to another verb. They can be used as verbs on their own. Will and shall are auxiliary verbs used to express future time. Modal auxiliaries, for example shall, could and might also operate to adjust verb meanings.

In argument or discussion, to favour one side or viewpoint by ignoring or excluding conflicting information; a prejudice against something.
body language

A form of non-verbal communication which consists of body movements and postures, gestures, facial expressions, and eye and mouth movements, for example crossed arms or leaning away from or towards another person.


(see parentheses)

breadcrumb trail
A method for providing ways to navigate through a website. The breadcrumb trail shows where users are, how they got there, and how to move back to the places they have been. An example of a breadcrumb trail is: Home > Products > Purchase > Checkout.
camera angle
The angle at which the camera is pointed at the subject. It is the perspective from which the camera shoots and from which the viewer ultimately sees the image. Vertical angle can be low, level or high. Horizontal angle can be oblique (side on) or frontal.

A clause is a complete message or thought expressed in words. The essential component of a clause is a finite verb or verb group, for example 'She played in the sandpit', 'Duc was running home'.

  • A main clause (also known as a principal or independent clause) is a clause that can stand alone as a complete sentence, though it may be joined with other clauses, for example 'The child came first'.
  • A subordinate clause (also known as a dependent clause) is a group of words that cannot stand alone or make complete sense on its own. It needs to be combined with a main clause to form a complete sentence. Subordinate clauses will usually be adjectival or adverbial clauses.
  • An adjectival clause is a clause that provides information which defines the qualities or characteristics of the person or thing named. It usually begins with a relative pronoun and is sometimes called a relative clause, for example 'The child who had the red top came first'.
  • An adverbial clause is a clause that modifies the verb in the main clause, for example 'The child came first because he was the fastest runner'.
  • An embedded clause occurs within the structure of another clause, often as a qualifier to a noun group, for example 'The man who came to dinner is my brother'.
That quality in a text determined by its parts being related and contributing to its overall unity. Cohesion is achieved through shaping the form, creating a structure that the responder can recognise and use to navigate the text, and using features of language that link the various parts of the text into a complete whole. These features can include connectives such as 'furthermore' and 'therefore', cross-references to different parts of the text, and reiteration of the title or terms of the topic or question being addressed in the text.
cohesive links

Those language features that help to develop unity within a text. Cohesion can involve referring words such as pronouns, eg 'Tony wanted to escape but he couldn't run', or content words that are related in various ways, for example 'Tony wanted to escape but was too tired to run'.

collaborative learning
An approach to teamwork that enables students to combine their individual skills and resources to generate creative solutions to problems.

Words that commonly occur in close association with one another (for example, 'blonde' goes with 'hair', 'butter' is 'rancid' not 'rotten', 'salt and pepper' not 'pepper and salt').

Informal expression of language, characteristic of speech and often used in informal writing. The register of everyday speech.
colon (:)
A punctuation convention used to separate a general statement from one or more statements that provide additional information, explanation or illustration. The statements that follow the colon do not have to be complete sentences. They will generally form a list and may be set out in dot points.
comma (,)

A punctuation marker used to indicate the grammatical organisation of sentences. Commas are used in sentences:

  • to indicate separation between parts of a sentence such as clauses or phrases, where such separation is important to the meaning, for example 'Children, who cannot lift such heavy weights, will not be allowed to participate', 'Children who cannot lift such heavy weights will not be allowed to participate'.
  • to separate words, phrases or numbers in a series, for example 'Children like to eat apples, bananas, oranges and watermelons'.
command (or imperative)
A sentence that gives direction or seeks an active response, for example 'Leave now!', 'Go!' Commands always end with an exclamation mark.
communication technologies
An overarching term encompassing the technologies (applications and devices) that facilitate wide scale communication. These may include film, websites, email and social networking platforms.
complex sentence

(see sentence)


A collective noun to include an author, poet, playwright, director, designer and so on.


The activity that occurs when students produce written, spoken or visual texts. Composing typically involves:

  • the shaping and arrangement of textual elements to explore and express ideas, emotions and values
  • the processes of imagining, organising, analysing, drafting, appraising, synthesising, reflecting and refining
  • knowledge, understanding and use of the language forms, features and structures of texts
  • awareness of audience and purpose.
The combination and integration of the various elements of an image into a whole text.
compound sentence

(see sentence)

compound word

A word consisting of two or more words that has a meaning different from that of the individual words, for example farmyard.

comprehension strategies

Strategies and processes by which readers bring meaning to and extract meaning from texts. Key comprehension strategies include:

  • activating and using prior knowledge
  • identifying literal information explicitly stated in the text
  • making inferences based on information in the text and their own prior knowledge
  • predicting likely future events in a text
  • visualising by creating mental images of elements in a text
  • summarising and organising information from a text
  • integrating ideas and information in texts
  • critically reflecting on content, structure, language and images used to construct meaning in a text.
concepts about print
Concepts about how English print works. They include information about where to start reading and how the print travels from left to right across the page. Concepts about print are essential for beginning reading.

A word that joins other words, phrases or clauses together in logical relationships such as addition, time, cause or comparison. There are two major types of conjunctions for linking messages:

  • coordinating conjunctions link words, phrases and clauses in such a way that the elements have equal status in meaning. They include conjunctions such as and, or, but
  • subordinating conjunctions introduce certain kinds of subordinate clauses. They include words such as that, whether (or if), while, after, when, because, if (in the conditional sense) and serve to mark the kind of subordinate clause introduced.

Words which link paragraphs and sentences in logical relationships of time, cause and effect, comparison or addition. Connectives relate ideas to one another and help to show the logic of the information. Connectives are important resources for creating cohesion in texts. The logical relationships can be grouped as follows:

  • temporal – to indicate time or sequence ideas, for example first, second, next
  • causal – to show cause and effect, for example because, for, so
  • additive – to add information, for example also, besides, furthermore
  • comparative – for example rather, alternatively
  • conditional/concessive – to make conditions or concession, for example yet, although
  • clarifying – for example in fact, for example.
The nuances or shades of meaning attached to words, beyond that of their literal or dictionary meanings. Connotations may be positive, negative or neutral.
The range of personal, social, historical, cultural and workplace conditions in which a text is responded to and composed.

A contraction is a shortened form of one or two words (one of which is usually a verb). In a contraction, an apostrophe takes the place of the missing letter or letters. Some contractions are: I'm (I am), can't (cannot), how's (how is), and Ma'am (Madam).

An accepted language practice that has developed over time and is generally used and understood, for example use of punctuation.
coordinating conjunctions

Words that link phrases and clauses in such a way that the elements have equal status in meaning. Examples of these conjunctions include and, or, either/neither, but, so and then (see conjunction).

Develop and/or produce spoken, written or multimodal texts in print, visual, oral or digital forms.
‘Creating’ refers to the development and/or production of spoken, written, visual or multimodal texts in print, graphic or digital forms.
The dynamic process of using language to conceptualise, interpret and synthesise ideas in order to develop a 'product'.
Exploration of the quality of argument, content, analysis, information or persuasion in oral, visual or written text, to assess the way in which themes, issues or ideas are presented for the audience and purposes intended.
cultural assumption

Beliefs or attitudes about such things as gender, religion, youth, age, disability, sexuality, social class and work that are taken for granted as being part of the fabric of the social practices of a particular culture. Cultural assumptions underlie cultural expressions in texts and may also be embedded in texts in various ways.

cultural expression
The articulation or representation of beliefs, practices or attitudes pertaining to a particular culture.
The social practices and ways of thinking of a particular people or group, including shared beliefs, values, knowledge, customs, lifestyle and artefacts.
dash (–)
A punctuation marker used to indicate a break or pause in a sentence or to begin and end a parenthetical clause. It is increasingly used in formal and informal writing where traditionally a colon, semicolon or comma may have been used, for example in a parenthetical clause.
The process in which knowledge of letter–sound relationships, including knowledge of letter patterns, is used to identify written words.
dependent clause

(see clause)

The way particular elements are selected, organised and used in the process of text construction for particular purposes. These elements might be linguistic (words), visual (images), audio (sounds), gestural (body language), spatial (arrangement on the page, screen or 3D) and multimodal (a combination of more than one).

The forms of a given language which differ from one another in details of sound system, vocabulary and grammar, each of which is usually to be found in a particular region or social class.

digital texts
Audio, visual or multimodal texts produced through digital or electronic technology which may be interactive and include animations and/or hyperlinks. Examples of digital texts include DVDs, websites, e-literature (e-books) and apps.

Two letters that represent a single sound (phoneme). Vowel digraphs are two vowels (oo, ea). Consonant digraphs have two consonants (sh, th). Vowel/consonant digraphs have one vowel and one consonant (er, ow).

The direction in which English print is read. Early readers need to learn where to start reading and in which direction the print travels, noting that other languages may not follow this convention.
discourse markers
Words and phrases used in speaking and writing to ‘signpost’ discourse by showing turns, joining ideas together, showing attitude, and generally controlling communication. Some people regard discourse markers as a feature of spoken language only (for example, ‘actually’, ‘so’, ‘OK’, ‘right?’, ‘anyway’).

The electronic publication of literature using the multimedia capabilities of digital technologies to create interactive and possibly non-linear texts, through combining written text, movement, visual, audio and spatial elements. It may include hypertext fiction, computer art installations, kinetic poetry and collaborative writing projects allowing readers to contribute to a work. E-literature also includes texts where print meanings are enhanced through digital images and/or sound and literature that is reconstituted from print texts, for example online versions of The Little Prince or Alice in Wonderland. In the form of e-books they are constructed to be read through e-readers and electronic tablets.

electronic media

Media technology, for example television, the internet, radio and email, that communicates with large numbers of people. Much electronic media will be interactive.


Ellipsis is the omission of words where:

  • words repeat what has gone before and these terms are simply understood, for example 'The project will be innovative. To be involved (in the project) will be exciting.'
  • a word like one is substituted for a noun or noun group, as in 'There are lots of apples in the bowl. Can I have one?' (of them)
  • a cohesive resource binds text together and is commonly used in dialogue for speed of response, for example (Do you) 'Want a drink?'/'Thanks' (I would like a drink)
  • three dots (also known as points of ellipsis) are used to indicate such things as surprise or suspense in a narrative text or that there is more to come in an on-screen menu
  • the points of ellipsis take the place of sections of text when quoting from a source.
Electronic mail. Correspondence sent and received using electronic addresses, including messages, documents and graphics.
emotive language
Language that creates an emotional response.

The origins of, and changes to, words in relation to meaning, for example words derived from earlier or other languages, place names, words derived from people's names, coinages (for example googling). (See word origin.)

evaluative language
Positive or negative language that judges the worth of something. It includes language to express feelings and opinions, to make judgements about aspects of people such as their behaviour, and to assess the quality of objects such as literary works. It includes evaluative words. The language used by a speaker or writer to give a text a particular perspective (for example judgemental, emotional, critical) in order to influence how the audience will respond to the content of the text.
everyday and workplace texts
Texts that communicate in everyday situations and workplaces. Everyday and workplace texts are composed with a sensitivity to the broad range of language competencies among the intended audience, and the contexts within which they are placed. Examples of everyday texts include road signs, information texts provided by government departments and instructions on appropriate behaviour in places like schools, restaurants and parks. Examples of workplace texts include safety signs, information texts relating to workplace procedures, and texts that use the jargon of the workplace.
exclamation mark (!)
A punctuation marker used at the end of a sentence to emphasise the emotion or feeling that is contained in the sentence. In some forms, such as personal letters, it may be used to strengthen the humorous element in a sentence, for example 'We found the cat asleep in the rubbish bin!' Exclamation marks are always used at the end of sentences containing a command – Go!
figurative language
Words or phrases used in a way that differs from the expected or everyday usage. Figurative language creates comparisons by linking the senses and the concrete to abstract ideas. Words or phrases are used in a non-literal way for particular effect, for example simile, metaphor, personification. Figurative language may also use elements of other senses, as in hearing with onomatopoeia, or in combination as in synaesthesia.
finite verbs

Verbs that have a specific tense and a subject with which they grammatically agree (see verb). A complete sentence must contain a finite verb.

Ease of flow, for example in talking, reading, handwriting and spelling.
The way in which elements in a still or moving image are arranged to create a specific interpretation of the whole. Strong framing creates a sense of enclosure around elements while weak framing creates a sense of openness.
full stop (.)
A punctuation marker used to indicate the end of a sentence that is a statement or command, for example 'Maria came into the room.', 'Come into the room, Maria.'
The directed look of either a viewer or figure in an image, including demand and offer.
  • In text study, exploration of the way notions of gender identity are constructed by the language and values of the text.
  • In grammar, a requirement for agreement between nouns, adjectives, verbs and pronouns that must agree when they are referring to males or females.
The categories into which texts are grouped. The term has a complex history within literary and linguistic theory and is often used to distinguish texts on the basis of, for example, their subject matter (detective fiction, romance, science fiction, fantasy fiction) and form and structure (poetry, novels, short stories).
The structure of the language we use and the description of language as a system. In describing language, attention is paid to both structure (form) and meaning (function) at the level of the construction of words (graphemes), the word, the sentence and the text.
grammatical/syntactical information
Information about language structure in comprehending a text, for example sentence structure, text organisation and word order.

A letter or combination of letters that corresponds to or represents phonemes, for example the f in frog, the ph in phone, the gh in cough.

Visual information about words and texts in print, for example letter sequences, punctuation. The 26 letters that make up the English alphabet are the basic data of the system of writing and reading. Each individual word in a printed text is visually identifiable because it is made up of a unique subset and sequence of these letters. In the reading process graphological knowledge involves identification of printed words through visual processing. The visual processing system gradually builds up detailed images of a growing number of words that it can process automatically (with the aid of other processing systems). Accuracy, fluency and, eventually, automatic recognition of words by sight depend greatly on the completeness and rapidity of one's visual memory of the words. In early processing, the whole word is recognised as an image, but later processing involves combining letter sequences, use of which is facilitated by phonological knowledge. Graphological knowledge is also required for spelling and handwriting.
graphophonic knowledge
The knowledge of how letters in printed English relate to the sounds of the language.
The production of legible, correctly formed letters by hand with the assistance of writing tools.
high-frequency sight words

The most common words used in written English text. They are sometimes called 'irregular words' or 'sight words'. Many common or high-frequency words in English are not able to be decoded using sound–letter correspondence because they do not use regular or common letter patterns. These words need to be learned by sight, for example come, was, were, one, they, watch, many, through.

home language
A language acquired and used in the home or community by members of a family, for example speaking Mandarin at home in an English-speaking country.

A word with the same spelling as another, but of different origin and meaning, for example wind (the wind blows), wind (wind the clock).


A word having the same sound and the same spelling, but a different meaning, for example strike (verb), strike (noun).


A word having the same sound as another but different spelling and meaning, for example bear, bare.

hybrid texts
Composite texts resulting from mixing elements from different sources or genres (for example infotainment). Email is an example of a hybrid text, combining the immediacy of talk and the expectation of a reply with the permanence of print.
An area of a web page or email (either text or an image) that the user can click on in order to go to another item or source of information.
hyphen (-)

A punctuation marker used to indicate that a word is divided. The hyphen is placed between syllables or, in the case of compounds, between the parts of the word, for example role-play, self-correcting, pre-eminent. In print it may be used to break a word across a line to ensure a consistent right margin.


An image or likeness that carries meaning beyond its literal interpretation. The cross is an icon that represents Christianity, the Sydney Opera House is an icon that represents Sydney or Australia. The meaning of 'icon' has also broadened to refer to an image or likeness that is admired and valued because of the qualities inherent in what it represents. For example, leading figures in popular culture enjoy iconic status when they are seen as representing admired qualities such as intelligence, creativity, leadership, courage, talent, physical strength, grace or endurance.

The visual images and symbols associated with a particular person, place, event, situation or concept.
An expression peculiar to a language, that cannot be taken literally, for example 'I've got a frog in my throat'.
idiomatic expressions
Words or ways of speaking which are peculiar to a language or area. The users of the text understand it to mean something other than its literal translation. Idiomatic expressions give a distinctive flavour to speech or writing, for example 'on thin ice', 'fed up to the back teeth'. They can be over-used, to the point of cliché.
The use of figurative language or illustrations to represent objects, actions or ideas.
The ability to use the mind for a wide array of purposes. These purposes include, but are not limited to, creating and forming images, ideas and thoughts, developing new insights, reflecting on one's own self and others, and solving problems.
imaginative text

(see types of texts)

Indigenous cultural and intellectual property

Includes objects, sites, cultural knowledge, cultural expression and the arts, that have been transmitted or continue to be transmitted through generations as belonging to a particular Indigenous group or Indigenous people as a whole or their territory.

indirect speech

(see reported speech)

The process of drawing conclusions based on evidence from a text.
informative text

(see types of texts)

Responding to a text in order to draw meaning from it.

The associations or connections between one text and other texts. Intertextual references can be more or less explicit and self-conscious. They can take the form of direct quotation, parody, allusion or structural borrowing (see appropriation).

The pattern of pitch changes revealed in speech.

A clash between what the words say and what they mean. Irony has three forms:

  • rhetorical irony – saying something contrary to what is meant, for example 'I had a great time' (I was bored)
  • dramatic irony – stating or doing something unaware of its contrast with the real situation, for example where the reader or watcher knows disaster is about to befall a character who says 'I've never been happier'
  • situational irony where events are opposite to expectations.
The placement of two or more ideas, characters, actions, settings, phrases or words side-by-side for a particular purpose, for example to highlight contrast or for rhetorical effect.
A system of meaning, in spoken, written, visual and physical modes, for communicating ideas, thoughts and feelings.
language concepts

An overarching term including language forms and features, modes, and pattern.

language features

The features of language that support meaning, for example sentence structure, vocabulary, illustrations, diagrams, graphics, punctuation, figurative language. Choices in language features and text structures together define a type of text and shape its meaning (see structures of texts). These choices vary according to the purpose of a text, its subject matter, audience and mode or media of production.

language forms and features

The symbolic patterns and conventions that shape meaning in texts. These vary according to the particular mode or media of production and can include written, spoken, non-verbal or visual communication of meaning (see textual form).

language modes

Listening, speaking, reading, writing, viewing and representing. These modes are often integrated and interdependent activities used in responding to and composing texts in order to shape meaning. It is important to realise that:

  • any combination of the modes may be involved in responding to or composing print, sound, visual or multimedia texts
  • the refinement of the skills in any one of the modes develops skills in the others. Students need to build on their skills in all language modes.
language patterns
The arrangement of identifiable repeated or corresponding elements in a text. These include patterns of repetition or similarity (for example the repeated use of verbs at the beginning of each step in a recipe or the repetition of a chorus after each verse in a song). The patterns may alternate (for example the call and response pattern of some games or the to and fro of a dialogue). Other patterns may contrast (for example opposing viewpoints in a discussion or contrasting patterns of imagery in a poem). The language patterns of a text contribute to the distinctive nature of its overall organisation and shape its meaning.
The spatial arrangement of print and graphics on a page or screen, including size of font, positioning of illustrations, inclusion of captions, labels, headings, bullet points, borders and text boxes.
letter–sound relationship

Association between a sound in English and a letter or letter pattern in words. This assists in word recognition when reading (see graphophonic knowledge).

lexical chain
A sequence of related words in writing.
lexical cohesion

The use of word associations to create links in texts. Examples of links are the use of repetition of words, pronouns, synonyms, antonyms and words that are related, for example, by class and subclass (see cohesion).

linking devices
Devices that link words, phrases and sentences, often used interchangeably with conjunctions or text connectives.

The use of the sense of hearing, as well as a range of active behaviours to comprehend information received through gesture, body language and other sensory systems (see active listening).


Literacy involves students listening to, reading, viewing, speaking, writing and creating oral, print, visual and digital texts, and using and modifying language for different purposes in a range of contexts. It encompasses the knowledge and skills students need to access, understand, analyse and evaluate information, make meaning, express thoughts and emotions, present ideas and opinions, interact with others and participate in activities at school and beyond.

literary devices

Literary devices include textual elements such as structure, generic conventions, language forms and features that are used to shape meaning in texts; for example figurative language or soliloquy.

literary texts

Past and present texts across a range of cultural contexts that are valued for their form and style and are recognised as having enduring or artistic value.


Literally means anything written, but the term is generally associated with works of imagination, fictional and non-fictional. It is often used to mean texts that are highly regarded examples of their forms and media.

mass media
Technologies used to communicate information to large numbers of people over distances.
Means of communication, for example print, digital. Plural of medium.

Recognition, retention, recall and learning. The term is used to describe spelling strategies that draw on 'known' or 'remembered' words. Memory may be:

  • visual – recognising and recalling visual features, for example little and kettle have similar patterns
  • auditory – recognising and recalling sound features by saying individual sounds and matching to letters in a word, including syllabification
  • kinaesthetic – recognising and recalling by writing, for example Look, Cover, Write, Check
  • tactile – recognising and recalling the feel of words
  • articulatory – recognising and recalling the way the word is made in the mouth.
Language (which can include technical terms, concepts, ideas or codes) used to describe and discuss a language. The language of grammar and the language of literary criticism are two examples of metalanguage.
A resemblance between one thing and another is declared by suggesting that one thing is another, for example 'My fingers are ice'. Metaphors are common in spoken and written language and visual metaphors are common in still images and moving images.
The use of the name of one thing or attribute of something to represent something larger or related, for example using the word 'crown' to represent a monarch of a country; referring to a place for an event as in 'Chernobyl' when referring to changed attitudes to nuclear power, or a time for an event as in '9/11' when referring to changed global relations.
modal verb
A verb that expresses a degree of probability attached by a speaker to a statement (for example 'I might come home') or a degree of obligation (for example 'You must give it to me').

Aspects of language that suggest a particular perspective on events, a speaker or writer's assessment of possibility, probability, obligation, frequency and conditionality. Modality forms a continuum from high modality (for example obliged to, always, must) to low modality (for example might, could, perhaps, rarely). Modality is expressed linguistically in choices for modal verbs (for example can, may, must, should), modal adverbs (for example possibly, probably, certainly, perhaps), modal nouns (for example possibility, probability, certainty) and modal adjectives (for example likely, possible, certain).


The various processes of communication: listening, speaking, reading, writing, viewing and representing. Modes are also used to refer to the semiotic (meaning-making) resources associated with these communicative processes, for example sound, print, image and gesture (see language modes).

  • In literature, the emotive attitude or feeling carried by a particular text, for example happiness, excitement, doom. It has much in common with tone (see tone).
  • Grammatically, a verb form conveying the speaker's attitude towards the subject. Traditionally classified as indicative (statements and questions), imperative (commands) or subjunctive (hypothetical or conditional). The subjunctive involves use of auxiliaries, for example could, may, should, might.

The smallest meaningful or grammatical unit in language. Morphemes are not necessarily the same as words. The word cat has one morpheme, while the word cats has two morphemes: cat for the animal and s to indicate that there is more than one. Similarly like has one morpheme, while dislike has two: like to describe appreciation and dis to indicate the opposite. Morphemes are very useful in helping students work out how to read and spell words.


Those texts that use more than one medium, for example combining visual media, for example words and images, with sound. Television, the internet and developments in computer and digital technology have resulted in multimedia texts becoming increasingly rich and complex. Multimedia texts now generally feature moving images, sophisticated and complex graphics, and interactivity. Examples of multimedia texts include texts delivered on personal digital devices, music videos, cartoons, video games and internet texts.


Relating to the use of a combination of media, including text, graphics, images, audio, video and hypertext.

Comprising more than one mode. A multimodal text uses a combination of two or more communication modes, for example print, image and spoken text as in film or computer presentations.
Important stories that began in the early times of a culture and remained within that culture. They may be the basis of other pieces of literature.

A story of events or experiences, real or imagined. Narrative includes the story (what is narrated) and the discourse (how and why it is narrated). This includes the relationship between language, context and values represented through narrative. Narratology is a field of study that investigates the internal mechanisms of narrative.


The creation of a new word or expression. Words which were neologisms quickly become mainstream, for example robot, email.


A process for forming nouns from verbs (for example reaction from react or departure from depart) or adjectives (for example length from long, eagerness from eager). Also a process for forming noun phrases from clauses (for example 'their destruction of the city' from 'they destroyed the city'). Nominalisation is often a feature of texts that contain abstract ideas and concepts.


A word used to represent people, places, ideas and things.

  • Nouns used to name any one of a class of things are known as common nouns, for example girl, classroom, egg.
  • Nouns used to name a place, a person or the title of something are known as proper nouns. They are signalled by a capital letter, for example Sam, Wagga Wagga, Olympic Games.
  • Nouns used to name a group of things are known as collective nouns, for example crowd, swarm, team.
  • Nouns used to name things that we cannot see but which exist in thoughts and feelings are known as abstract nouns, for example sadness, love, wonder.
  • Pronouns are words like I, you, them, hers that are used in place of a noun (see pronoun).
noun groups

A group of words representing who or what is involved in the action or condition of the verb. Noun groups may occur in the place of the subject or the object of the verb. They can include different types of articles, adjectives and nouns linked together, for example 'The run-down old inner-city terrace house is for sale'. Noun groups can also include adjectival phrases and adjectival clauses, for example 'The house with the broken windows is for sale', 'The house that we saw yesterday is for sale'. A noun group can consist of two or more nouns, 'Boys and girls come out to play', 'Jenny, the oldest child, came into the room'.

noun–pronoun agreement

Occurs when a writer or speaker selects the correct pronoun for the noun or noun group to which it is referring, for example 'The boy was looking for his father in the supermarket'. There should be agreement in number and gender. In an effort to avoid sexist statements the plural their is sometimes used in place of his or her, without regard for the rules of agreement.

A grammatical requirement for consistency between nouns, verbs and pronouns that must agree when they are referring to one (singular) or more (plural). If there is only one noun or pronoun in the subject, the verb must be singular and if there are more than one, the verb must be plural.

The noun, noun group or pronoun in a sentence that is affected by an action. To find the object ask who or what after the verb, for example 'The girl threw the ball'. (She threw what? Answer: the ball.)

The formation of a name or word by imitating the sound associated with the object designated.

The phonological units of a spoken syllable. A syllable can normally be divided into two parts: the onset which consists of the initial consonant or consonant blend and the rime which consists of the vowel and any final consonants. For example:

bark b (onset), ark (rime)

inside (no onset), in (rime), s (onset), ide (rime).

parentheses ( )
Punctuation markers used to enclose an explanatory word, phrase or sentence, an aside or a commentary, for example 'She was referring to her friend (Shirley) again'.
A work intended to ridicule or mock through imitating the ideas, tone, vocabulary and stylistic features of another work.
passive voice

(see voice)


The relationship between a subject and its verb showing whether the subject is speaking about itself (first personI or we), being spoken to (second personyou), or being spoken about (third person he, she, it or they).


Attributing human characteristics to abstractions such as love, things (for example The trees sighed and moaned in the wind) or animals (for example The hen said to the fox...).

A way of regarding situations, facts and texts.
persuasive text

(see types of texts)

The smallest sound unit in a language that is capable of conveying a distinct meaning.
phonemic awareness
The awareness of sounds (phonemes) that make up spoken words. While phonemic awareness involves an understanding of the ways sounds function in words, it deals with only one aspect of sound: the phoneme. Phonemic awareness is one aspect of phonological knowledge and is very important for learning to read and spell.
The understanding that there is a predictable relationship between the sounds of a spoken language and the letters and spellings that represent these sounds in written language.
phonological knowledge

Information about the sounds of language and letter-sound relationships (when comprehending text). It refers to the ability to recognise that words are made up of a variety of sound units, for example single sounds (phonemes) and blends. It includes the ability to:

  • attend to and segment the sound stream into ‘chunks’ of sound known as syllables. Each syllable begins with a sound (onset) and ends with another sound (rime), eg:
  • d-og onset and rime
  • el-e-phant syllables
  • know letter-sound relationships and how to use these to read words (including understanding of the blending process)
  • understand that there is a systematic relationship between letters and sounds (the alphabetic principle).

A group of words that forms part of a sentence and does not include a finite verb (see finite verbs).

  • Adjectival phrase – a group of words (usually beginning with a preposition) that gives more information about a noun, for example 'The girl with brown curly hair sat at the front', 'The flowers in the vase were wilting'.
  • Adverbial phrase – a group of words that provides information about where, when, with what, how far, how long, with whom, about what, as what, for example 'She swept the floor with an old broom', 'Throughout time people have attempted to halt old age'.
picture book
A book, traditionally produced for children and now also being composed for older readers, in which words and illustrations complement each other to tell a story that might have some allegorical, instructive or moral level of significance.
poetic devices

Particular patterns and techniques of language used in poems to create particular effects based in the use of sound, the creation of images and other sensory inputs. Examples of these devices includes metaphor, simile, metonymy, rhyme, rhythm, onomatopoeia, alliteration and assonance. Note that poetic devices may also be used in prose writing and drama scripts to obtain such effects.

poetic forms

Fixed forms within poetry that must comply with certain requirements, for example ballad, sonnet, elegy, ode, dramatic monologue. The form will often be determined by the tone and subject matter. Note that some poets may deliberately subvert the fixed form (see subvert).

point of view
  • The particular perspective brought by a composer, responder or character within a text to the text or to matters within the text.
  • Narrative point of view refers to the ways a narrator may be related to the story. The narrator, for example, might take the role of first or third person, omniscient or restricted in knowledge of events, reliable or unreliable in interpretation of what happens.
popular culture
Cultural experiences, widely enjoyed by members of various groups within the community, that are popular within their own time, for example Shakespearean drama in Elizabethan England.
The composing technique of causing the responder to adopt a particular point of view and interpret a text in a particular way. Composers position responders by selectively using detail or argument, by carefully shaping focus and emphasis and by choosing language that promotes a particular interpretation and reaction.
predictable text

Texts that are easily navigated and read by beginning readers because they contain highly regular features for example familiar subject matter, a high degree of repetition, consistent placement of text and illustrations, simple sentences, familiar vocabulary and a small number of sight words.

An informed presumption about something that might happen. Predicting at the text level can include working out what a text might contain by looking at the cover, or working out what might happen next in a narrative. Predicting at the sentence level is identifying what word is likely to come next in a sentence. It is a useful technique when teaching reading or when engaging with a text dealing with matters not previously known.

A word part that is attached to the beginning of a base word to change the meaning or form, for example unhappy, dislike (see suffix).


A word that begins an adverbial phrase or an adjectival phrase indicating time, place, manner, causality, for example in, on, after, before, by, under, over, of, through. Pronouns following prepositions always take objective case, for example 'between you and me' (not between you and I).

prepositional phrases

Units of meaning within a clause that begin with a preposition. They indicate how, when, where or why, for example 'She ran into the garden', 'He is available from nine o'clock'.


A word that is used in place of a noun. There are different types of pronouns:

  • personal pronouns represent specific people or things, for example she, it, they, you, we
  • demonstrative pronouns indicate a thing or things, for example this, these, that, those
  • possessive pronouns refer to the belonging of one thing, person, etc, to another, for example his, theirs, yours, mine
  • interrogative pronouns represent the things that we are asking questions about, for example who, whom, what, which
  • reflexive pronouns refer back to the subject of the sentence or clause. Reflexive pronouns end in -self (singular) or -selves (plural). The reflexive pronoun myself is not a substitute for the personal pronouns I or me
  • reciprocal pronouns are used when each of two or more subjects is acting in the same way towards the other, for example 'Jack and Jill love each other', 'The footballers were blaming one another'
  • indefinite pronouns do not refer to any specific person, thing or amount, for example all, another, any, anybody/anyone, anything, each, everybody/everyone, everything, few, many, nobody, none, one, several, some, somebody/someone
  • relative pronouns introduce a relative clause. They are called relative because they relate to the words they modify. There are five relative pronouns: who, whom, whose, which, that.
The way in which a person speaks in terms of such aspects as articulation, rhythm (stress, pause), intonation (pitch, tone) and volume.
A figure of speech where there is a play on words. Puns are usually humorous and rely on more than one meaning of a word to emphasise the point, which may be serious.
The purpose of a text, in very broad terms, is to entertain, to inform or to persuade different audiences in different contexts. Composers use a number of ways to achieve these purposes: persuading through emotive language, analysis or factual recount; entertaining through description, imaginative writing or humour, and so on.
A sentence that seeks information. The word group normally tagged onto a clause in order to signal that a reply or response is required is known as a question tag, for example 'You are going tomorrow, aren't you?', 'Move over, can't you?'
question mark (?)
A punctuation marker used at the end of a sentence to indicate that a question is being asked.
quotation marks ('...' or "...")

Punctuation markers used to indicate:

  • quoted or direct speech, for example 'I am Arno's brother,' he said. A new paragraph and separate quotation marks are used for each speaker being quoted
  • in formal writing, the actual words quoted from another source. For example, Shakespeare is using dramatic irony when Lady Macbeth says, 'A little water clears us of this deed'
  • the titles of poems, songs, short stories or articles, for example the well-known song, 'Waltzing Matilda'
  • that attention is being drawn to an unusual or particular sense or usage of a word, for example Wombats are 'sociable' creatures.

Quotation marks are not used for the speech of characters in a drama script.

quoted speech/direct speech

Speech in a text that quotes what someone has said, giving the exact words. It is represented in text by being contained within quotation marks (see reported speech).

re-creating texts

Transforming texts to explore how changes in particular elements of a text affect meaning.

reading path
The manner in which the eye of the viewer is led round an image, usually by drawing the viewer to the most salient or important elements in the composition.
A type of text that records events in the sequence in which they occurred. The speaker/writer has often been personally involved in these events.
A means of keeping track of objects, words and illustrations in written and spoken texts. In spoken language the references may be to items in the surrounding environment. In written language the references are usually to words in the text or to illustrations or other graphical items.
reference links

Links that keep track of the people, animals or objects throughout a text – usually nouns or pronouns, for example 'Sam sailed the boat down the coast. He overturned it and he was towed to shore'.

reference list

A reference list is a list of texts cited within the work as appropriate to the medium and context of the work and in accordance to the principles of All My Own Work.

The thought process by which students develop an understanding and appreciation of their own learning. This process draws on both cognitive and affective experience.
The degree of formality or informality of language used for a particular purpose or in a particular social setting.

Reinterpret an event, work of art or a text imaginatively.

related texts
Texts that students have chosen in addition to their prescribed texts. The study of these related texts provides students with the opportunity to explore a wider variety of texts related to the particular module. Students draw their chosen texts from a variety of sources, in a range of genres and media.
reported speech/indirect speech

Speech in a text used to communicate what someone else said, but without using the exact words. In reported speech the tense of the verbs is often changed, for example She said that she was going to leave (indirect speech), 'I am going to leave,' she said (direct speech).

The way ideas are portrayed and represented in texts, using language devices, forms, features and structures of texts to create specific views about characters, events and ideas. Representation applies to all language modes: spoken, written, visual and multimodal.
The language mode that involves composing images in visual or multimodal texts. These images and their meaning are composed using codes and conventions. The term can include such activities as graphically presenting the structure of a novel, making a film, composing a web page or enacting a dramatic text.

A collective noun to include a reader, listener, viewer, an audience and so on.


The activity that occurs when students read, listen to or view texts. It encompasses the personal and intellectual connections a student makes with texts. It also recognises that students and the texts to which they respond reflect social contexts. Responding typically involves:

  • reading, listening and viewing that depend on, but go beyond, the decoding of texts
  • identifying, comprehending, selecting, articulating, imagining, critically analysing and evaluating.
rhetorical devices
Strategies used by writers and speakers to achieve particular effects, for example to stimulate the audience's imagination or thought processes, to draw attention to a particular idea, or simply to display wit and ingenuity in composition. Examples of rhetorical devices are irony, paradox, rhetorical question, contrast and appropriation.

A strategy of emphasis, highlighting what is important in a text. In images, salience is created through strategies like placement of an item in the foreground, size, and contrast in tone or colour. In writing, salience can occur through placing what is important at the beginning or at the end of a sentence or paragraph or through devices for example underlining or italics.

The use of one or more of exaggeration, humour, parody, irony, sarcasm or ridicule to expose, denounce and deride folly or vice in human nature and institutions. The emphatic feature of these language devices draws attention to what is being criticised.
The depth of field or purity in colour or light.
When reading, moving the eyes quickly down the page seeking specific words and phrases.

To separate or divide a word into sounds (phonemes). This can include segmenting words without pauses (stretching a word), for example mmmaaattt, and segmenting words with a pause between each unit of sound, for example / m / a / t /.

semantic knowledge/information
Semantic information, and knowledge of it, is the broad, generalised knowledge of the world, of words and their meanings and word associations that allows responders to make sense of text beyond literal decoding and application of syntactic knowledge to text.
semicolon (;)
A punctuation marker used to indicate a separation between clauses that is stronger than a comma but less complete than a full stop. Semicolons may separate phrases or clauses that already include commas, for example 'The competition was not decided today; it will finish next week', 'Undo the outer wrapping, taking care not to damage the catch; remove the protective cover and open the box'. The clause after the semicolon must contain a finite verb and function as a stand-alone sentence.

A unit of written language consisting of one or more clauses that are grammatically linked. A written sentence begins with a capital letter and ends with a full stop, question mark or exclamation mark. A sentence contains a finite verb. There are different types of sentences:

  • simple sentence – is a single main clause and expresses a complete thought. It has a subject and a finite verb and may also have an object, for example 'Mary is beautiful.', 'The ground shook.', 'Take a seat.'
  • compound sentence – contains two or more clauses that are coordinated or linked in such a way as to give each clause equal status. In the following example and is the coordinating conjunction: 'We went to the movies and bought an ice cream.'
  • complex sentence – contains a main (or independent) clause and one or more subordinate (or dependent) clauses. The subordinate clause is joined to the main clause through subordinating conjunctions like when, while and before, as in the following examples: 'We all went outside when the sun came out.', 'Because I am reading a long book, my time is limited.'

In film or television, an uninterrupted image which can last for several seconds up to several minutes between two edits. The term also refers to the camera angle and/or position for example a close up, high angle or long shot.


A figure of speech that compares two usually dissimilar things. The comparison starts with like, as or as if.

This strategy is used when reading to quickly identify the main ideas in a text.
social distance
Culturally determined boundaries which suggest different relations between the represented participant and the viewer, for example intimate distance (close up), public distance (long shot).
sound effect
Any sound, other than speech or music, used to create a mood, feeling or response to a text such as film or drama.
Use voice to convey meaning and communicate with purpose. Some students participate in speaking activities using communication systems and assistive technologies to communicate wants and needs and to comment about the world.
A slip of the tongue where the initial sounds of a pair of words are transposed. Generally used for humour, for example 'a blushing crow'.
Standard Australian English
English which, in its spoken and written forms, is the English of more formal communication throughout the Australian community. Standard Australian English adheres to broadly accepted rules of syntax and pronunciation and uses vocabulary that is more formal than colloquial. Standard Australian English operates to facilitate communication across ethnic, social, occupational and cultural groups and can be used as a benchmark against which to recognise Australian dialects and cultural varieties of English. Standard Australian English is a valuable and empowering communicative tool for use in contexts where it is the preferred mode of communication.
A sentence that provides information, for example 'I am leaving now', as contrasted with a question.
A circumstance where a person or thing is judged to be the same as all others of its type. Stereotypes are usually formulaic and oversimplified. In literature, a stereotype is a character representing generalised racial or social traits, with no individualisation.
A series of drawings which approximate to a sequence of images used for planning a film text.
structures of texts

The relationships of different parts of a text to each other and to the text as a complex whole. The structure of a text can refer to the internal organisation of ideas, as in an argument or story, the development of parallel plots in a novel or play, or the overarching framework of the text (see language forms and features and textual form).

stylistic features

The ways aspects of texts, for example words, sentences and images, are arranged, and how they affect meaning. Style can distinguish the work of individual authors (for example Jennings' stories, Lawson's poems) as well as the work of a particular period (for example Elizabethan drama, nineteenth century novels). Examples of stylistic features are narrative viewpoint, structure of stanzas, juxtaposition, use of figurative language and tone.


An element in the structure of a clause usually filled by a noun group, for example 'The dog (subject) was barking'. The subject indicates who or what gives agency or attributes to the finite verb or verb group and is usually found by asking 'who' or 'what' before the verb. In the sentence, 'The dog was barking', asking 'What was barking?' gives the answer, ‘the dog’. The normal position of the subject is before the verb group, for example 'The dog was barking', but in most kinds of interrogatives (questions) it follows the first auxiliary verb, for example 'Was the dog barking?', 'Why was the dog barking?' All main clauses and simple sentences must have a subject.

subject matter

The topic or content of a text, for example an information report on boats includes building materials, engines, etc. In literary texts, the subject matter is often different from the ideas of the text. For example, the subject matter of George Orwell's Animal Farm is animals running a farm, while the idea Orwell is exploring is totalitarianism.

subject–verb agreement

The form of the verb must agree with the number of its subject, which will be a noun or noun group, for example 'They were not home' (as opposed to 'They was not home'). Confusion can arise when deciding whether the subject is singular or plural, for example 'This group of students is very clever', or when there are two subjects, for example 'Ice cream and strawberries are delicious' (not 'is delicious').


To compose or respond to a text in ways that are different from the widely accepted reading or different from the conventional genre. For example, Roald Dahl's Revolting Rhymes provides a subverted reading of Cinderella. The purpose of producing a subverted reading of a text might be to entertain or to raise questions about the meaning or inherent values in the original text.


A word part that is attached to the end of a base word to change the meaning or form, for example jeweller, eating (see prefix).

When referring to texts, maintaining consistency of style, form, language features, argument and other unifying characteristics across the entire text.
The process of dividing words into syllables for reading and spelling purposes.

A unit of sound within a word containing a single vowel sound, for example won-der-ful, sing-ly.

An object, animate or inanimate, which represents something else through the use of association, intentional analogy and convention.
Use of a symbol that represents something else, particularly in relation to a quality or concept developed and strengthened through repetition. For example, freedom can be symbolised by a bird in flight in both verbal and visual texts.

A word or word group with the same or similar meaning as another word or word group, for example want (desire), go away (leave).

Related to the study of syntax.
The way in which sentences and clauses are structured. Syntax is often described in terms of such elements as subject, verb and object, for example 'Christine (subject) munched (verb) the apple (object)'.
Combine elements of language or ideas or parts of characters, and so on, to create more complex wholes.
A particular classification arranged in a hierarchical structure. Taxonomies influence text structures, ordering ideas within a text.

The element that determines when the action or condition of the verb form is located in time. In broad terms the tense will be past, present or future, for example 'Sarah laughed', 'Sarah laughs', 'Sarah will laugh'. Participles (verbs ending in -ing) do not locate a verb in time and need a finite component to indicate when the event happens. For example, the participle running needs the finite auxiliaries was running (past), is running (present), will be running (future) to indicate when the running occurred.

term of address

A name or title used when addressing different people, for example Mum, Dr Singh, Johnno, Sir, darling.

text connectives

Often called conjunctions, these are words for signposting the development of a text and helping it hold together. They can:

  • sequence ideas, for example firstly, secondly, thirdly, finally
  • add information, for example in addition, furthermore, in the same way
  • show causes and results, for example so, therefore, for that reason, accordingly, as a consequence
  • introduce conditions or concessions, for example on the other hand, however, nevertheless, despite this.
text navigation
The way readers move through text. Readers generally read novels in a linear fashion from the beginning to the end. Readers of nonfiction books often use the contents page and index and move between chapters according to the information sought. Readers often read digital texts more flexibly, according to interest and purpose, using hyperlinks to move between pages and digital objects such as videos or animations, making quick judgements about the relevance of material.
text processing strategies
Strategies for reading a text. These involve drawing on contextual, semantic, grammatical and phonic knowledge in systematic ways to work out what a text says. They include predicting, recognising words and working out unknown words, monitoring the reading, identifying and correcting errors, reading on and re-reading.
text structure

The ways information is organised in different types of texts, for example chapter headings, subheadings, tables of contents, indexes and glossaries, overviews, introductory and concluding paragraphs, sequencing, topic sentences, taxonomies, cause and effect. Choices in text structures and language features together define a text type and shape its meaning (see language features).

Communications of meaning produced in any media that incorporates language, including sound, print, film, electronic and multimedia representations. Texts include written, spoken, non-verbal, visual or multimodal communications of meaning. They may be extended unified works, a series of related pieces or a single, simple piece of communication.
textual form
The conventions specific to a particular type of text, often signalling content, purpose and audience, for example letter form, drama script, blog.
textual integrity

The unity of a text; its coherent use of form and language to produce an integrated whole in terms of meaning and value.

  • Refers to the central or one of the main underlying ideas or messages of a text.
  • Grammatical theme – in a sentence the theme is the clause that comes in first position and indicates what the sentence is about. Theme is important at different levels of text organisation. The topic sentence serves as the theme for the points raised in a paragraph. A pattern of themes contributes to the method of development for the text as a whole.
theoretical perspectives and models

Theoretical perspectives and models present significant views on the teaching of English. They incorporate different ways of considering texts to assist students to engage with the full scope of, and relationship between, meaning and texts. They include various teaching methods. Perspectives and models include 'personal growth', 'critical literacy', 'cultural heritage', 'cultural literacy' and the 'social view of language'.

Personal growth: an approach to teaching English that focuses on developing students' personal responses to texts, their enjoyment of reading, and fostering individual creativity. It is particularly concerned with students' social needs and personal interests and explicitly values students' own experiences. Through its exploration of personal experience and its acceptance of the language of everyday communication, a personal growth model allows for the incorporation of a wide range of texts and media. This approach allows for learning about self and the world through relation to text and context.

Critical literacy: the ability to question, challenge and evaluate the meanings and purposes of texts. It involves an understanding of the ways in which values and attitudes are communicated through language, including how subject matter, point of view and language embody assumptions about issues such as gender, ethnicity and class. A critical literacy approach to teaching English has students composing, responding to, analysing and evaluating written, spoken, visual and multimedia texts from various perspectives in order to learn how they operate as cultural products.

Cultural heritage: that approach to teaching that focuses on transmitting to students the established knowledge and values of high culture, expressed through literary texts. In the case of English teaching, a cultural heritage model places high value on the literature of the Western canon and involves detailed analytical treatment of texts in order to uncover the meanings intended and communicated by the author.

Cultural literacy: knowledge and understanding of texts as cultural artefacts and how language, history, values and traditions shape and are reflected in literature, the media, popular culture and everyday and workplace contexts. Cultural literacy requires an ability to respond to and compose texts with an awareness of such cultural contexts.

Social view of language: an approach to literacy education that recognises that acts of communication (texts) are socially constructed. Texts vary according to different situations and cultural factors. The effectiveness of a text is judged according to how well it fulfils its social, personal or academic purpose.

  • The voice adopted by a particular speaker to indicate emotion, feeling or attitude to subject matter.
  • The author's attitude towards the subject and audience, for example playful, serious, ironic, formal.
types of texts

Classifications according to the particular purposes texts are designed to achieve. These purposes influence the characteristic features the texts employ. In general, texts can be classified as belonging to one of three types (imaginative, informative or persuasive), although it is acknowledged that these distinctions are neither static nor watertight and particular texts can belong to more than one category.

  • Imaginative texts – texts that represent ideas, feelings and mental images in words or visual images. An imaginative text might use metaphor to translate ideas and feelings into a form that can be communicated effectively to an audience. Imaginative texts also make new connections between established ideas or widely recognised experiences in order to create new ideas and images. Imaginative texts are characterised by originality, freshness and insight. These texts include novels, traditional tales, poetry, stories, plays, fiction for young adults and children,including picture books and multimodal texts for example film.
  • Informative texts – texts whose primary purpose is to provide information through explanation, description, argument, analysis, ordering and presentation of evidence and procedures. These texts include reports, explanations and descriptions of natural phenomena, recounts of events, instructions and directions, rules and laws, news bulletins and articles, websites and text analyses. They include texts which are valued for their informative content, as a store of knowledge and for their value as part of everyday life.
  • Persuasive texts – texts whose primary purpose is to put forward a point of view and persuade a reader, viewer or listener. They form a significant part of modern communication in both print and digital environments. Persuasive texts seek to convince the responder of the strength of an argument or point of view through information, judicious use of evidence, construction of argument, critical analysis and the use of rhetorical, figurative and emotive language. They include student essays, debates, arguments, discussions, polemics, advertising, propaganda, influential essays and articles. Persuasive texts may be written, spoken, visual or multimodal.
upper and lower case

Upper case (also called capital letters) and lower case letters are two forms of the letters of the alphabet. Lower case letters are used except when it is necessary to:

  • indicate specific names, for example those of organisations, titles, countries
  • indicate the beginning of a sentence or the initial letter of a proper noun.
value systems
The set of personal, social and cultural beliefs that underpin a text. For example, in the western genre a clear line is drawn between good and evil and great value is placed on rugged masculine individualism as a means of keeping order.
These are the ideas and beliefs in a text. They may be reflected in characters, through what they do and say; through the setting of the text, reflecting particular social views; and through the narrative voice of the text, perhaps through authorial comment. Values are specific to individuals and groups, and a text may contain a number of conflicting values.

An item that directs our eyes towards a focal point, for example when the subject in a visual text is pointing or looking in a certain direction. As the reader or viewer, our eyes will follow the direction in which they are pointing or looking.


The verb is perhaps the most important part of the sentence. A verb states what is happening in the sentence. Finite verbs locate the condition or action of the verb in a specific time frame: past, present or future (see finite verbs and tense). Verbs create the relationship between the subject and the object of the verb (see subject–verb agreement). Different types of verbs include:

  • action verbs, for example 'They danced all night.'
  • relating verbs, for example 'Cows are herbivores.'
  • thinking verbs, for example 'She forgot his name.'
  • feeling verbs, for example 'Sarah likes baked beans.'
  • possessing verbs, for example 'He has a new car.'
verb groups

A group of words built up around a verb. Verb groups may include auxiliary verbs (ie those 'helping' verbs used to indicate tense or modality), for example 'She is going soon', 'They must leave before dark'. Verb groups can contain two or more verbs, for example 'He huffed and puffed', 'They were going to climb the fence'. These are sometimes called complex/compound verbs. Some verb groups include other words such as adverbs and prepositions, for example 'The plane took off' (see auxiliary verb).

Observing and comprehending a visual text, for example diagram, illustration, photograph, film, television documentary, multimedia. This sometimes involves listening to and reading accompanying written text.
visual features

Visual components of a text for example placement, salience, framing, representation of action or reaction, shot size, social distance and camera angle.

visual language

Language that contributes to the meaning of an image or the visual components of a multimodal text and are selected from a range of visual features like placement, salience, framing, representation of action or reaction, shot size, social distance and camera angle. Visual language can also include elements, for example symbol, colour, scene and frame composition, setting and landscape, lighting and the use of editing.

visual literacy
The ability to decode, interpret, create, question, challenge and evaluate texts that communicate with visual images as well as, or rather than, words. Visually literate people can read the intended meaning in a visual text such as an advertisement or a film shot, interpret the purpose and intended meaning, and evaluate the form, structure and features of the text. They can also use images in a creative and appropriate way to express meaning.
visual memory
The retention, recall or recognition of things seen. In reading and writing, visual memory is helpful in learning letter forms and their sequence in words.
visual processing

The reader's reaction to the visual features or appearance of written text. This is influenced by the reader's familiarity with letter strings and multi-letter patterns (see graphological).

visual texts

Texts in which meaning is shaped and communicated by images rather than words. Visual texts use techniques, for example line, shape, space, colour, movement, perspective, angle and juxtaposition to shape meaning. Examples of visual texts include cartoons, billboards, photographs, film, TV, artworks, web pages and illustrations.

  • In reference to a text, voice means the composer's voice – the idea of a speaking consciousness, the controlling presence or 'authorial voice' behind the characters, narrators and personas in a text. It is also described as the implied composer. The particular qualities of the composer's voice are manifested by such things as her or his method of expression (for example an ironic narrator) and specific language.
  • Grammatically, voice refers to the way of indicating who is doing the action. Active voice is where the 'doer' of the action comes before the verb, for example 'Ann broke the vase'. Passive voice is where the 'receiver' of the action is placed before the verb, for example 'The vase was broken by Ann' (see theme). Stylistically, active voice is usually preferred in writing, as it places the agent of the verb at the start of the sentence and has a sense of immediacy, whereas passive voice creates a sense of detachment between subject and verb and is not so easily read and understood.
  • In speaking, a description of the oral production of text.
The voice of an unseen commentator or narrator heard during a film or presentation.
word chain
A sequence of nouns and noun groups or verbs and verb groups that unifies a text by linking a particular content strand. Chains can also be established through repetition. For example, in a text about birds, words such as pelicans, blue cranes, moorhens and ibises create a word chain based on a pattern of words connecting classes of items.
word origin
The source and history of a word (etymology), for example photograph (from the Greek words for 'light' and 'picture').
word play
Experimenting with and manipulating language (often in humour), usually for entertaining effect, for example spoonerisms, double meanings, puns.
Plan, compose, edit and publish texts in print or digital forms. Writing usually involves activities using pencils, pens, word processors; and/or using drawings, models, photos to represent text; and/or using a scribe to record responses or produce recorded responses.
youth cultures
The shared beliefs, knowledge, creative activities, customs and lifestyle of young people, particularly teenagers, within a culture. Youth cultures develop in those societies which differentiate teenagers as a group separate from children and adults. In Australia, the dominant youth culture identifies closely with popular culture and finds expression in the music and multimedia texts of popular culture.