HomeIDIOM back issue reviewsReview - English for the Australian Curriculum

Review - English for the Australian Curriculum

Karen B. Johnson, Camberwell High School

Editors: Brenton Doecke and Graham Parr

Authors: Rita Van Haren, Mel Dixon, Suzanne Kiraly, et al.

Publisher: Cambridge University Press, 2011, 251 pages.

RRP: $49.95

English for the Australian Curriculum: Book 2 is a colourful, activity-packed, student-focused text that prides itself on the rich creative engagement of inquiry learning for all students. Book 2 encourages deep, reflective thinking, in line with reflective teaching practices, and addresses the priorities of the Australian Curriculum with a broad range of activities in reading, writing, creating, viewing, listening and speaking, through its integrated approach to the study of language, literacy and literature.

This bright, image-filled textbook not only encourages visual literacy as a way to connect with students, it is supported by excellent pedagogical practices as shown through the exceptional bulk of activities constructed to support the development of student skills across the discipline. For example, Chapter 4 has no less than 27 activities for students to explore, in its study of Gothic Horror Stories, ranging from structural analysis of short stories such as Angela Carter’s ‘The Werewolf’, to identifying neatly scaffolded persuasive language techniques in articles such as David Germain’s ‘Vampire Overkill?’. Students explore a range of graphic organisers to unpack their learning, and make connections to self and the world through a stunning variety of textual samples.

The textbook is further supported by the online Cambridge GO resources, which come free with the book, and contain many digital website links, further supporting ICT skills development. The contents cover a range of thematic inquiries such as culture, identity, diversity, realism/documentary, self-reflective/memory narratives, humour, horror and speeches/persuasive language. Central to the text is a collaborative, creative climate that provides stimulating material to encourage the distinctive, authentic voices of our students.

English for the Australian Curriculum, Book 2 is specifically designed for Years 9 and 10 students, and would work as a classroom text or a teacher resource, in whole or in part. This reviewer feels the vibrancy of the text would appeal to a broad range of students across various ability levels. The activities and information presented here would no doubt keep your students busy throughout the year with this fabulous material, and would more than adequately support the development of rich writing folios, confident questioning and exploration of ideas, and literacy and language skills that will serve them well into their senior years.