General capabilities covered in Essential English include: Literacy, Numeracy, Information and communication technology (ICT) capability, Critical and creative thinking, Personal and social capability, Ethical understanding and Intercultural understanding
Literacy is important in the development of the skills and strategies needed to express, interpret, and communicate complex information and ideas. Literacy skills are consolidated in Essential English through a focus on comprehending and creating written, spoken, visual and digital texts or a combination of these. Students develop their literacy skills and strategies by practising those communication skills required for further study, work, community life and active citizenship.
Students use numeracy in Essential English when they practise and apply the skills of interpreting and analysing, comparing and contrasting, making connections, posing and proving arguments, making inferences and problem solving as they create and respond to a range texts. For example, students use numeracy skills when they create and interpret sequences and spatial information in factual texts or consider timing and sequence when developing photo stories. They draw conclusions from statistical information, interpret and use quantitative data as evidence in persuasive texts and evaluate the use of statistics in media and other reports.
There is a particular focus in Essential English on ICT through the use of digital texts and on understanding and creating multimodal texts. For example, students explore the effects of sound and image as they consider how ideas are communicated in digital texts. They use digital technologies when they access, manage and use information and when creating their own texts. In Essential English students develop increasingly sophisticated understandings of social and ethical practices in the use of digital information and communications. They develop skills in reading, viewing and responding to digital and multimodal texts and analysing the effects of the use of different mediums on meaning and interpretation.
Critical and creative thinking is integral to the study of and creation of texts in Essential English. Students analyse and evaluate issues and ideas presented in texts. In both thinking about and creating their own texts, they recognise and develop arguments, use evidence and draw reasoned conclusions. Students experiment with text structures and language features as they transform and adapt texts for different purposes, contexts and audiences. Students use critical thinking when they use their knowledge of language to analyse a range of texts in relation to their purpose, context, audience, structural and language features, and underlying and unstated assumptions. They investigate the ways language is used to position individuals and social and cultural groups. Creative thinking enables students to apply imaginative and inventive capacities in the creation of their own original works.
Students develop personal and social capability in Essential English through collaborative work, and group and class discussions. The study of Essential English helps students to understand and more effectively manage themselves and their own learning. Students identify and express their own opinions, beliefs and responses by interacting with a range of texts and social situations. Essential English actively assists students in the development of communication skills needed for conversation, research, presentations and the expression of viewpoints and arguments. Students work collaboratively in teams and also independently as part of their learning and research endeavours.
Ethical understanding is explored in Essential English through the selection of texts for study, for example, when students engage with ethical dilemmas presented in texts, considering reasons for actions and implications of decisions. Students examine and question values, attitudes, perspectives and assumptions presented in texts, comparing these with their own. They develop the skills of visualising and predicting the consequences of certain behaviours and engaging in the exploration of rights and responsibilities. They develop increasingly advanced communication, research, and presentation skills to express viewpoints by interacting with and interrogating a range of texts and social situations. They understand and apply ethical research practices, for example, acknowledging sources and avoiding plagiarism and collusion.
In Essential English, intercultural understanding encourages students to make connections between their own experiences and the experiences of others. Through the study of texts – contemporary, from the past, and texts from diverse cultures – students explore and analyse these connections. Students understand and can express the interdependence of language, culture, identity and values, particularly in the Australian context, and are able to appreciate and empathise with the cultural beliefs, attitudes and values of others. They study how cultural concepts, beliefs, practices and perspectives are represented in a range of textual forms and for a variety of purposes and audiences. They pay special attention to the contribution of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and Asian cultures to literature and other media in Australia.