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Introducing Module A and 3 Things You Must Do That Will Make It Easy to Understand

As per usual, let's start with NESA's own words:

In this module, students explore the ways in which the comparative study of texts can reveal resonances and dissonances between and within texts. Students consider the ways that a reimagining or reframing of an aspect of a text might mirror, align or collide with the details of another text. In their textual studies, they also explore common or disparate issues, values, assumptions or perspectives and how these are depicted. By comparing two texts students understand how composers (authors, poets, playwrights, directors, designers and so on) are influenced by other texts, contexts and values, and how this shapes meaning.

Students identify, interpret, analyse and evaluate the textual features, conventions, contexts, values and purpose of two prescribed texts. As students engage with the texts they consider how their understanding, appreciation and enjoyment of both texts has been enhanced through the comparative study and how the personal, social, cultural and historical contextual knowledge that they bring to the texts influences their perspectives and shapes their own compositions.

By responding imaginatively, interpretively and critically students explore and evaluate individual and common textual features, concepts and values. They further develop skills in analysing the ways that various language concepts, for example motif, allusion and intertextuality, connect and distinguish texts and how innovating with language concepts, form and style can shape new meaning. They develop appropriate analytical and evaluative language required to compose informed, cohesive responses using appropriate terminology, grammar, syntax and structure.

By composing critical and creative texts in a range of modes and media, students develop the confidence, skills and appreciation to express a considered personal perspective.

Ahhhh, lovely. Now let's break it down to something you can actually understand.

Think about how you figured out what a tree was.

Depending on where you were born or grew up in, you might have seen palm trees, great oaks, eucalyptus or birch trees. When you were little you might have been quite fascinated by how different they looked. As you got older however you noticed something. They all had this big column thing in the middle - you learn it's called a trunk. Then you realise they all had this green stuff on the branches - you learn they're called leaves. Yeah they look different on each tree but every tree had them.

That's why when you saw a maple for the first time in your life you knew it was a tree (and not a bear or a flower or a chair). Even though trees in different places look different, they were all trees.

OK so what does that have to do with Module A?

Module A is about reading 2 texts that appear different because they were written in different places at different times by people who have experienced different things. But after looking at them closely you realise they are actually about very similar ideas.

Your job is to identify the ideas and how they have changed or stayed the same over time.

To tackle Module A, be sure to do these three things:

1. Identify and learn the CONTEXTS of each text.

Texts are always written in response to the concerns of their time (Whose time? The composer's time). Read about the major events and how people in that time reacted to them to understand what was on the minds of the authors.

There were also societal ideas and preconceptions that dominated society at the time, just as avocados have dominated our brunch culture. These ideas are divided into four sub-types.

Personal Context: the life of the composer. Were they rich? poor? Where did they go to school? What was their family structure like?

Cultural Context: this is about what ideas were held by a group of people. An ethnicity, a country or a religion will all have their own ideas about how life should be lived. This impacts the way people think. For example, helping other people out is a cultural context for Australians.

Social Context: this is about the infrastructure and technology that existed in a particular time period. Issues with social media would not exist without social media. Things like internet, cars, skyscrapers and phones are all part of the social context.

Historical Context: major events in history such as wars, the age of exploration etc all impact what people were concerned about. Books and poems after world wars often portrayed life as bleak, fragile and difficult - a product of their historical context.

For example for Shakespeare's play "The Tempest" relevant context you could note down include:

  • Colonialism: the tales of cannibalism from the new world made people suspicious of indigenous inhabitants of colonised areas.

  • The Divine Right of Kings: people believed in the great chain of being which lead to a strict hierarchy in society and it emphasised how monarchs were always moral and good as they were chosen by God.

  • Female Rights: women were considered subservient to men in Jacobean England. Knowing this helps one analyse Shakespeare's portrayal of women.

2. Make a list of the VALUES of each context.

Values are concepts or things that people consider to be important. Honesty, loyalty, wealth, stability and freedom are all examples of values. Every individual has a different set of values and every society has a different set of values.

Modern Australia values acceptance and equality. You might personally value honesty and freedom. What did the society of each of your texts value? What did the composer want the audience to learn to value?

3. Find what's the same between the texts and what's different.

Use the following table to start listing the differences and similarities between texts:

The two texts will have a similar central message to the reader. It will appear to be different because of different contexts and values but after all of these are accounted for and stripped away, what you ultimately learn/gain from the texts is very similar.

This is how we find the "common issues." For example one text may describe the injustices within prisons, while another may describe the injustices done to slaves. While their content is different, they are both "aligned" in the sense that they both object to the dehumanisation of people and the abuse of power.

Therefore by looking at what they share we see common themes, despite the difference in details.

Once you do these 3 things you will be able to better understand how to start your Module A essay!


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