Guide to the Year 11 English Common Module: Reading to Write

What's so important about the Reading to Write module anyway? It instills the building blocks of language and textual analysis that is assumed knowledge once the HSC begins.

In English, Reading to Write is the Common Module for Year 11 students. This means that it is studied by both English Standard and English Advanced students.

The Reading to Write module has the subheading Transition to Senior English. To quote the Course Description, "Students explore texts and consolidate skills required for senior study."

The Module's focus is to prepare you for the kinds of texts you will respond to in the HSC, and the kinds of writing you will be expected to do. It's worth reading through the syllabus content on this Module to better understand it. It can be found at the following pages on the NESA website: English Standard, English Advanced.

As this is a common module, the descriptions for it are the same for both Standard and Advanced. Let's read through the content sentence-by-sentence and process what it is saying.

Sentence 1

In this module, students undertake the intensive and close reading of quality texts from a variety of modes and media.

Close reading is a way of looking at texts which goes beyond thinking about the broad strokes of, for instance, plot or content. It means looking at how specific elements of the text shape its meaning. This includes the analysis of language, especially the use of language techniques. It also means interpreting the form and structure of a text.

Therefore, when you look at texts in this module, you will be thinking about how the composer's choices influence the text's meaning.

Sentence 2

In doing so, they further develop the skills and knowledge necessary to appreciate, understand, analyse and evaluate how and why texts convey complex ideas, relationships, endeavours and scenarios.

When you see the word how in relation to a text, it is referring to the method or means by which a text expresses itself. This relates back to the choices of the composer like the use of language techniques.

By studying this module, you will understand how these choices enable texts to say something. They might, for instance, deliver a message about life or society in a unique way because of the language techniques employed.

The word why, by contrast, refers to the idea of purpose, which relates to the idea of messages in the previous paragraph. You need to think about what a text is trying to achieve. Does it just want to entertain us, or does it want to make us think about an idea or issue in real life or the real world?

This links to the word complex. Real life is not simple, and quality texts, as they are referred to in Sentence 1, reflect this fact. Therefore, texts represent things with multiple sides or aspects to them.

This includes:

  • relationships: the ways people engage with each other, which may be healthy and supportive, negative and destructive, or a combination of them.
  • endeavours: what people try to achieve in their lives. People may have straightforward goals, like to survive, or they may have more complex ones, like finding happiness, authenticity or success.
  • scenarios: situations arise in life which present challenges and possibilities. Texts represent this.

Sentence 3

Central to this module is developing student capacity to respond perceptively to texts through their own considered and thoughtful writing and judicious reflection on their skills and knowledge as writers.

What does it mean to respond perceptively to texts?

Your response to a text is not just what you think about it but the expression of those thoughts in a productive form, such as by writing an essay or creative piece. To be perceptive, you need to show that you understand what a text is saying, and how it says it.

Your writing should be considered and thoughtful. Like the authors you study, you need to pay attention and put time and effort into your response, so that what you say or write is clear, meaningful and demonstrates your understanding.

The module also aims towards judicious reflection on your skills and knowledge. You want to be able to see where you are succeeding in your writing, and where you need to improve. You can then practice to develop your abilities further.

Sentence 4

Students read texts that are engaging thematically, aesthetically, stylistically and/or conceptually to inspire or provoke them to critique skilfully, or to respond imaginatively.

This sentence describes the kinds of texts you will read and the kinds of responses they are expected to derive from you. They are engaging, meaning interesting, entertaining, engrossing, thought-provoking, and strong at holding your attention, in the following ways:

  • thematically: the texts deal with themes, over-arching topics of interest, of which they consider or represent different elements.
  • aesthetically: the texts are appealing or otherwise pleasing to read.
  • stylistically: the texts have their own style which emerges through voice, use of language, tone and structure.
  • conceptually: the texts consider complex ideas.

In this way, these texts are intended to:

  • inspire: encourage you to develop your own unique ideas.
  • provoke: encourage you to respond to what they say.

As a result, you will:

  • critique skilfully: produce analytical writing interpreting texts, such as essays.
  • respond imaginatively: produce creative work such as short stories or reviews.

Sentence 5

Through the study of texts, students develop insights into the world around them, deepen their understanding of themselves and the lives of others, and enhance their enjoyment of reading.

By reading, analysing and responding to these texts, you understand better how peoples and societies think and act. You gain similar knowledge about yourself and other individuals. You will enjoy reading more because you will be better equipped to engage with texts.

Sentence 6

The careful selection of critical and creative texts that address the needs and interests of students provides opportunities for them to increase the command of their own written expression, and empower them with the confidence, skills and agility to employ language precisely, appropriately and creatively for a variety of purposes.

The texts you study will be chosen by your schools and teachers so that they connect with you. They will demonstrate types and styles of writing it is useful and important for you to know about, and which you should find interesting.

You will have the chance to practice your own writing skills and improve them by reading these examples of writing as well as producing your own work.

You will become better at saying what you mean clearly, with the right vocabulary and sentence structure, and in imaginative ways.

Sentence 7

Wide reading and reflection provides students with the opportunity to make deeper connections and identify distinctions between texts to enhance their understanding of how knowledge of language patterns, structures and features can be applied to unfamiliar texts.

By reading texts you might not normally read, and by responding to them, you can see more clearly how texts relate to each other. You can also see more clearly how texts differ from each other. These similarities and differences occur in the form of how composers use language and structure. You see how ideas are shaped by these choices. You also gain greater ability to interpret texts you have not seen before.

Sentence 8

Through imaginative re-creation students deepen their engagement with texts and investigate the role of written language in different modes, and how elements, for example tone, voice and image, contribute to the way that meaning is made.

When you write creatively, your engagement with texts becomes even stronger. You gain a better understanding of how writing choices affect ideas in texts. You can see how the way composers express themselves changes exactly what they are saying.

Sentence 9

By exploring texts that are connected by form, point of view, genre or theme, students examine how purpose, audience and context shape meaning and influence responses.

In the Module, you learn what affects the way texts are written and how readers react to them differently. Texts may deal with similar topics or take similar approaches, but still seem quite different for several reasons; they may be trying to do different things, be meant for different people, come from different times and places and have different concerns. On the other hand, texts which seem very different might actually have similarities if they have similar purposes or intended audiences, or come from the same or similar times and places.

Sentence 10

Through responding and composing for a range of purposes and audiences students further develop skills in comprehension, analysis, interpretation and evaluation.

Your writing skills will improve when you try to achieve different outcomes in your writing. They will also improve when you write for different kinds of people. This will also improve the skills you will need across HSC English by strengthening your ability to understand how language, form and structure shape meaning.

"Evaluation" refers to making a judgement; you might need to use your skills to argue, with evidence, for why you think a text is or is not effective or whether it achieves its purpose successfully. You might also be asked to compare texts and give your justified opinion as to which is more successful for effective.

Sentence 11

They investigate how various language forms and features, for example structure, tone, imagery and syntax are used for particular effect.

You will look into the ways that the use of language adds meaning to a text. This includes structure, the mood or feeling created by the text, its use of descriptive language and its sentence structure. This can add significance and emphasis to ideas in texts, or make them more complex and detailed.

Sentence 12

They analyse and assess texts using appropriate terminology, register and modality.

You learn to use the correct kind of vocabulary and expression in your writing, such as how to be formal and specific in an essay. This makes your approach to each text more confident.

Sentence 13

By reading and writing complex texts they broaden the repertoire of their vocabulary and extend control of spelling, punctuation and grammar to gain further understanding of how their own distinctive voice may be expressed for specific purposes.

You gain better control of language by seeing how it is used in the texts you read. These provide examples of words you may not have encountered before and demonstrate correct uses of grammar and punctuation. As a result, you can develop your own style and can see how it can be used to have different effects.


You will read unfamiliar texts with different uses of language and from different times and places. As a result, your own ability to write and express yourself, both analytically and creatively, will improve.

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