Venue: Cliftons, Level 1, 400 Collins St,  Melbourne.

Cost: $300 incl GST

Looking for some new ideas for 2020?

There is a wealth of knowledge to be shared, and at this one day conference you will find plenty to think about and resources to take back to school.

The English Language strand includes two class-focused sessions with teachers of EL and two sessions with linguists who will extend your knowledge about  specific topics in the course.

The EAL program offers sessions on popular EAL texts as well as some fresh text ideas, and workshops that focus on the three Areas of Study.

The venue is Cliftons at Level 1, 440 Collins St in the CBD, allowing easy access by public transport, and no parking hassles.  Catch the train to Southern Cross Station and take any of the trams down Collins St two blocks to the William St corner.

EAL and EL conference logo



EAL Text


English Language



Session 1: 9.30-10.40

Janny McCurry
The Queen

Jo Thompson
Listening to texts

Brook Bolander
Digital discourse: Shifting entry points and why these matter 

10.40am-11.05am Morning tea

Session 2: 11.05-12.15

Jason Jewell
Seven Stages of Grieving

Lindi Chiu
Controlling the uncontrollable: Preparing for Section C of the EAL Exam

Ella Hopkins
Moderating student work in English Language



Session 3

Rachel Towns
Rear Window  

Jason Jewell
Unit 4 SACs as exam preparation

Gail Richards
English Language - Section C The Essay

Session 4

Greta Caruso
Texts for analysis and listening in Years 10 and 11 EAL

Siobhan Mahoney
Preparing EAL  students for VCE

James Walker
Language variation and identity


EAL Text

Session 1: 9.30-10.40

Janny McCurryJanny McCurry: The Queen

This session will focus on The Queen as a stand-alone EAL text for Section B.

Strategies for scaffolding the text for EAL learners will be discussed, and ways of paying attention to filmic elements as well as dialogue.  Examples to take away will be provided, including material for the analysis of mis en scenes, scene analysis, excerpts of dialogue and how the film presents Diana and the world of the text.

Janny McCurry writes curriculum materials for BooBook Education and consults on course design and assessment. She is an experienced VCAA assessor and marks practice exams for BBE. She presents to students and teachers locally and in China.

Session 2: 11.05-12.15

Jason JewellJason Jewell: Seven Stages of Grieving

This session will explore how Mailman and Enoch's play, Seven Stages of Grieving, provides EAL students with many speaking, listening, reading and writing learning opportunities. A range of classroom activities will be offered to support students' study of the text as they prepare for the Unit 3 and 4 SACs and the examination.

Jason Jewell [BA (Hons.), Dip. Ed., MA (Appl. Ling)] taught for  20 years at McKinnon Secondary College, where he was the Manager of English.  He continues to teach, and has written textbooks and study materials for VCE Units 1-4 English, EAL and Literature, and regularly lectures for students, as well as at universities and conferences. His areas of expertise in EAL include: Listening, Reading Comprehension, Argument analysis, Text study, Comparative SACs on all pairs, Oral strategies and the Point of View SAC.

Session 3: 1.00-2.10

Rachel TownsRachel Towns: Rear Window

Rear Window (1954) is a significant thriller directed by famed film-maker Alfred Hitchcock and which sets up a powerful internal drama in response to external conflict. In looking at this text I will be considering the historical context of the Cold War and McCarthyism as well as the position of the genders in the 1950s and the impact that both of these elements had upon the text. This external historical context will also be utilised in order to consider the created social context within the film of the closed-in world. This presentation will also consider a range of quotes and their significance, include key terminology that can be used to discuss the text and explore significant themes within the text that can be addressed with students in order to prepare them for writing SACs and preparing for the exam on this text. There will also be some consideration of how to connect this text to a range of students from an EAL background, as well as when teaching it as a mainstream text.

Rachel Towns is a Teacher and Literacy Coach at St. John’s Regional College, Dandenong. She has a Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Letters (Honours), Graduate Diploma in Education (Secondary), Masters in Arts (Theology) and a Graduate Diploma in Writing. As a teacher, Rachel has taught in a range of subject areas from 7 - 12 including English, Literature, History, Legal Studies, and Religious Education. She has written six workbooks on History for Blake Education’s Achieve History series aimed at low literacy students and had a chapter published in each of the HTAV 20th Century History textbooks. She has also had a peer-reviewed article ‘Voting Valkyries: The first Australian Feminists’ published in Agora and an essay ‘Turkish Delight and Sardines with Tea’ published in C.S. Lewis by Palgrave Macmillan. She has presented at VATE and HTAV conferences, assessed Texts and Traditions for VCAA, acted as a freelance editor for Blake Education and as a Practice Exam Assessor for Boobook Education.

Session 4: 2.20-3.30

Greta CarusoGreta Caruso: Texts for analysis and listening in Years 10 and 11 EAL

This session will look at suggestions for texts for study for Years 10 and 11.  This session will go beyond using texts that have been taken from the Year 12 list. We will examine a range of different modes and take advantage of the fact that teachers are not bound to a text list. The focus will be on high interest texts as well as activities that enable language acquisition, analytical thinking and development of listening skills. We will look at:

  • Graphic novels: The Arrival or The Rabbits by Shaun Tan
  • Short films: Short films of Adam Elliot, TropFest films  
  • Podcasts: Heywire, This is Love, This American Life
  • Documentary: The Final Quarter (Adam Goodes documentary) 
  • Philosophical fiction: The Little Prince Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Silver Donkey by Sonia Harnett

Teaching, producing resources and contribution to the community of English teachers have been the three elements of Greta’s career as an educator. She has worked in secondary education and tertiary teacher training. As well as writing for BooBook, she has produced resources for VCAA, Clickview, and the Australian Children’s Television Foundation. She is the author of Speaking and Listening7-10 and co-author of LingoPhat and LingoFile. Her teaching repertoire includes English, EAL Literature English Language and Bridging English. She has a particular interest in innovation and designing for learning, as well as developing engaging and collaborative online learning.


Session 1: 9.30-10.40

Jo ThompsonJo Thompson: Listening to texts

‘Listening to Texts’ is a relatively new focus in the VCE EAL Course and as teachers, we are always looking for new and innovative ways to engage our students and ensure they are fully prepared for the final examination at the end of Unit 4. Whilst ‘Listening to Texts’ is a discreet outcome in Unit 3 of the EAL Study Design, finding ways to incorporate the development of listening skills throughout Units 1-4 is important. In this session, we will look at several strategies and approaches to integrating the explicit teaching of listening skills in other areas of the course. We will also look at different types of Listening Task questions and explore how we can best teach students to prepare for these questions and, how an understanding of these questions may link to developing skills in other areas of the EAL course. Adopting a holistic approach to teaching listening in the EAL classroom has benefits not only for examination preparation, but also for language learning in general.

Jo Thompson is the Head of English at Firbank Grammar and she has been teaching English and EAL in Melbourne and overseas for the past 28 years. Her interests are in curriculum development and finding the best ways to develop resilient, independent learners. For the past six years, Jo has been involved in curriculum development and mentoring of teachers in offshore schools where the VCE is delivered. Each year she presents demonstration lessons, revision sessions and professional learning workshops to teachers and students who are teaching and studying VCE EAL in various schools throughout China.

Session 2: 11.05-12.15

Lindi ChiuLindi Chiu: Controlling the uncontrollable: Preparing for Section C of the EAL Exam

How do we prepare our students effectively for Section C in the final Year 12 exam? Unlike Section B which we can largely control, what do we do with a task where content and contextual knowledge is unknown and the task is not assessable other than as a comparative in Unit 3?  Developing strategies and skills to approach this Section are therefore necessary to allow students to achieve their personal best in an assessment area that is largely beyond out control. In this session we will explore planning ideas and suggested strategies from Years 10 to 12 that develop and reinforce a set of solid skills upon which students can rely when tackling the demands of this Area of Study.

Lindi Chiu has been teaching EAL and TESOL students both in Australia and abroad for more than twenty years. Beginning her career in Taiwan as a ‘walk-in-off-the-street’ English language teacher, she has gone on to own and operate language schools overseas and after returning to Australia over ten years ago, earned a Master of Education in TESOL, allowing her to switch her focus to International Students at secondary level. Having held the position of Head of EAL at The Knox School for the last six years, she has established and steered a strong faculty of likeminded professionals, acted as mentor to colleagues unfamiliar with the learning challenges of EAL students and with the support of the school, raised the profile and voice of her charges as they negotiate the academic requirements of the VCE. Her passion is to empower these children with skills, knowledge and the desire for learning as they enter the next phases of their educational journeys.

Session 3: 1.00-2.10

Jason JewellJason Jewell: Unit 4 SACs as exam preparation

The Oral Presentation and the Comparative task are SACs but are not on the exam. Nevertheless, the Statement of Intention, which forms part of the Oral (Unit 4, Outcome 2), is perfect for revising Argument analysis and persuasive language, while the Comparative analysis helps with planning arguments and textual details connected to theme and character for the text response in the exam.  This session will discuss how to develop an approach to these SACs that focusses on building vocabulary and fluency, developing syntax, expression and grammar as well as extending analytical thinking and the structuring of arguments.

Jason Jewell [BA (Hons.), Dip. Ed., MA (Appl. Ling)] taught for  20 years at McKinnon Secondary College, where he was the Manager of English.  He continues to teach, and has written textbooks and study materials for VCE Units 1-4 English, EAL and Literature, and regularly lectures for students, as well as at universities and conferences. His areas of expertise in EAL include: Listening, Reading Comprehension, Argument analysis, Text study, Comparative SACs on all pairs, Oral strategies and the Point of View SAC.

Session 4: 2.20-3.30

Siobhan MahonySiobhan Mahoney: Preparing EAL students for VCE

Whether teaching EAL students in stand-alone or mainstream classes in the middle years, it is essential we equip students with the skills and knowledge to be successful in their VCE studies. This session is designed to provide schools with suggested models for curriculum design at Years 9 and 10 so that students cumulatively build their skills in text analysis, listening and argument analysis to prepare them for VCE EAL.

Siobhan Mahony is the Director of International Relations at Balwyn High School, a role that includes leading an EAL faculty, overseeing the academic progress of International Students at the school and supporting staff in all subject areas with EAL pedagogy. Balwyn High School has a large EAL cohort, with stand-alone EAL classes running at Years 7-10 and an on-site Language Centre running for Year 9 and 10 International Students in Semester 2 each year.

English Language

Session 1: 9.30-10.40

Brook BolanderBrook Bolander: Digital discourse: Shifting entry points and why these matter

Traditionally, research which focused on digital discourse (or related terms like computer-mediated discourse or internet language) studied it from a distance, without contact  with its users and within the confines of virtual spaces. In the course of the past decade, there has been an increase in work which looks at sites of digital discourse from alternate perspectives. The language used to interact with others online is no longer seen to be confined to online spaces and sites. There is recognition that the material, physical worlds framing such interaction matter. There is also growing recognition that the lines between online and offline spaces have blurred, such that it is increasingly challenging, and sometimes not meaningful, to delineate where the one ends and the other begins. This has implications both for the way we might approach the study of digital discourse as well as for its relationship vis-a-vis language more generally. 

Brook Bolander received her PhD in English linguistics in 2012. Her primary research interests are in two main areas: language and transnationalism, and digital discourse. At the heart of both is an abiding interest in how language helps shape and give meaning to transnational encounters, and how we construct identity in both online and offline spaces. She has published widely in these areas.

Session 2: 11.05-12.15

Ella HopkinsElla Hopkins: Moderating student work in English Language

As EL teachers we often spend too long deliberating over what mark to assign to student’s SACs. When it comes time to hand them back to students, inevitably we need to be able to explain clearly why they have achieved a certain grade. This process is more difficult when you are teaching the subject solo. Some collegial support always helps and that’s why this will be an interactive session focusing on SAC moderation for Year Twelve. Analytical commentaries and essay SACs will be examined and discussed in relation to the VCAA assessment criteria.

Ella Hopkins teaches English Language at Penleigh and Essendon Grammar school. Ella set up the English Language program at the school two years ago and is enjoying sharing her enthusiasm for the subject with a whole new audience. This is her 12th year teaching the subject, she has assessed for the VCAA and published her thoughts on EL in the UK linguistics magazine ‘Babel’.

Session 3: 1.00-2.10

Gail RichardsGail Richards: English Language - Section C The Essay

This session will consider the English Language essay question and discuss the importance of responding to the specific question - identifying the key terms and planning the response, understanding the demands of the different types of questions, applying knowledge of the key content areas, using the stimulus material to guide the response, and using contemporary evidence from the Australian context for evidence  and examples.

Gail Richards loves teaching VCE English Language and has been a VCAA assessor for the subject. Having had the good fortune to have been offered the subject at RMIT, Gail now teaches English Language at OLMC Heidelberg together with an enthusiastic team of teachers. Student uptake of the subject continues to grow.

Session 4: 2.20-3.30

James WalkerJames Walker: Language variation and identity

This session examines the ways in which language variation is used to construct and express identity related to considerations such as sex/gender, social class and ethnicity. Examples are drawn mostly from Australian English and elsewhere, but some examples from other languages are presented.

Professor of Language Diversity at La Trobe University, with degrees in Linguistics and Anthropology from the University of Toronto and the University of Ottawa, James Walker specialises in sociolinguistic variation and change with publications on varieties of English and English-based creole. James is particularly interested in the VCE English Language course, especially topics dealing with variation, social purpose and identity.

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