Useful Internet VCE English Resource and a Warning re Internet Use.

Hi to VCE students and readers,

An Example of Useful Internet VCE English Resource.

I recently accessed ATAR Notes, a VCE resource for students mostly by students.                              With some sifting, it has some excellent material (and forums of mixed value).

Below is one of the excellent links. Disclaimer: note the date!                                                      However, there is still so much valuable material.Current curriculum involves more awareness and use of metalanguage and multiple readings (awareness of how people can interpret text differently depending on personal and social perspective and ideological leanings). Please first read through to the end of this post.

English Guides, Sample Pieces, Tips and Resources « on: December 19, 2010, 12:15:28 AM »

As always, do not just take what you read at face value. Consider deeply and analyse critically. Do your research. How would you approach the material? Regularly practice paragraphs in the appropriate form and style in response to prompts and text.


One more very important thing! Do not click on links like iLivid to access media material. They often come bundled with very nasty Trojans.

This I discovered last night.                                                                                                               It took me a weekend to realise how deep the Trojans burrowed into my system.                                  It took me many hours to work out how to dig them out and destroy them safely.                           I’m not the most technically savvy person but I was determined!

So now I wish to share my story briefly as a warning and a guide to any who find themselves in this situation.

One of the web pages on ATAR Notes had a link to a bundle of 50 odd articles a student had accumulated in his research for the Context Area of Study. There was a suggested link for file decompression. It was iLivid in this case. I trustingly/foolishly clicked the link and downloaded it. This involved the typical permission I Agree. Unfortunately, somewhere in all that wordiness, or in some other technical way beyond my comprehension, there must be a loophole for Trojans to use and hijack and/or a point of entry through my firewall .

The first problem seemed fairly innocuous but irritating. My default browser was sidelined and instead a Bing-like browser page popped up with URL searchnu after redirection through; according to Anvisoft Forums, it is categorised as “a malicious browser hijacker virus” which pretends to be a legitimate website but comes with lots of bundled malware, malicious spyware, adware parasites etc. A very, very nasty piece of work! )  The use of a www1 appeared during this time which at other times may not have been so much of a worry but in the context certainly was, given that it enables redirection (I believe). Waiting ‘in the sidelines’ of my programs, I also found WiseConvert, URL There were even more I could not find or identify. See below.


  • No searches were done after infection!
  • Asked someone else to look up the suspicious URL name from another computer and,  when this was not an option, I used my un-synced smartphone search facility to keep a separation of information.
  • Was cautious about the sites used for information especially if the discussion seemed lightweight or if they suggested downloads or links.
  • Triple+ checked the suggestions across a range of sites. The more trustworthy sites offer suggestions for finding and dealing with embedded programs and links.
  • Cleared all my download and search histories in the hope of reducing data accessible to spyware before following sensible suggestions from selected sensible sites.
  • Went into Control Panel and uninstalled suspicious programs appearing over the last week and particularly around the date of iLivid download.
  • Accessed Settings on the affected browser and deleted any suspicious add-ons and reset the default browser page.
  • Ran my widely respected virus protection program.
  • Restored system to an earlier date before download of iLivid then ran updates and virus check again.
  • Rebooted.
  • The problem would go away for awhile — but then it would re-emerge!
  • Researched anti-malware and anti-spyware programs. I have generally found CNET  to be a reliable point of research  as a guideline on a number of computer technology issues and programs, but again I cross reference.
  • Downloaded Spybot Search and Destroy, read Tutorial and Help then ran it. I thought I had uninstalled several dodgy programs including iLivid and reset settings. Spybot did a deep search and found several problems, including an iLivid cookie deep in my system. On instruction it disposed of all except one problem. It advised a second run through on Administrator mode, This removed the last, most deeply embedded bug/virus/trojan/worm or whatever it was bearing iLivid tag. So far so good: fingers crossed.
  • Am now considering getting another such program which someone recommended would work alongside Spybot.
  • Am also considering resetting passwords after putting out this warning for others. Perhaps I should have done this last night @ 2am when I finally cleared the system – hopefully.

Why does it matter?

Various sites suggest some disturbing possibilities apart from simply watching your search habits.

  • Tee Support claims Wiseconvert toolbar (Wise Convert BHO) may be a part of an online fraud, sneaking into the target computer and changing DNS settings, forcing pop ups and redirections to Wise Convert or other tricky links like searchnu or dts (any unfamiliar browser names or changes in look should be treated with utmost suspicion and caution). Ultimately one of them resets your browser to URLs like without consent. Initially it may appear just a nuisance but it can cause browser crashes (which happened to me), slow the system, slow internet speed, The nuisance value increases over time.
  • However, it is the breach of privacy and the harvesting of personal information (browser passwords, cookies, online banking details etc) which are particularly disturbing to the this era of identity theft and internet fraud.
  • Other sites suggest your computer can be used as a redirection/transfer or remote station for dodgy, even illegal & salacious, internet activities.

I hope this helps some of you.




Metalanguage, Julia Gillard, Tony Abbott and The Misogyny Debate

In Australia, Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott are often critiqued in relation to their use of language and are often perceived as lacking integrity on the floor of parliament and in their policy behaviours. Consequently, they have both been subjected to scrutiny of their use of language by fellow politicians, comedians, media personalities and social commentators as well as in the private domain of members of the public.

In the very early days of Julia Gillard’s political rise as Deputy Prime Minister, her strident Australian accent was commented on and criticised– even mocked – by many, especially the educated and upper classes. (Yes, Australia The Lucky Country of The Fair Go does have class stratification.) Consequently, she appears to have undergone enunciation and speech delivery training to modify this, possibly to make it more universally acceptable across ‘class’ accents.

As a female leader, some would argue, she has also been subjected to commentary on her appearance, in both visually evocative words and in visual images (quite tame compared to some) which would not be applied to a male. This coverage involves the metalanguage of visual communication. Whether or not it is truly biased is for you to research, consider and come to your own informed interpretation.

After the famous or infamous Misogyny Debate sparked by Julia Gillards’ short but impassioned speech in Parliament – aimed directly at Tony Abbott’s criticism of her for not taking a stand against disreputable behaviour by The Speaker, Peter Slipper – public debate has raged about whether or not she accurately addressed the term ‘misogyny’ to Abbott. This has become a world wide phenomenon, possibly with significant longevity. See the New Yorker article response here:

Recently, the editorial team of Macquarie Dictionary, a dictionary for Australian and New Zealand English, weighed into the deep waters of this debate by deciding to revise the current  common and public usage of the word ‘misogyny’  and consequently to broaden the definition. Some people have considered this akin to moving goal posts at a football game — mid game. Others consider it a valid reassessment and record of how language use evolves. What do you think?  Please read the Australian Financial Review’s informative article here:

Also peruse the ABC news article; and the Comments section which sometimes includes commentary from the public about the underlying feminist discourse and gender/identity politics as people struggle to clarify definitions and differences between term such as ‘sexism’, ‘chauvinism’ and ‘misogyny’ with varying degrees of insight.

Oh and weighing into the women-living-in-poverty aspect of the misogyny speech debate and politician Jenny Macklin’s ill-thought through comment, here’s a link to an article on The Vine website:


Because of the nature of this particular debate, this is a wonderful and fascinating opportunity to observe both the extraordinary use of language in the halls of power and arenas of media as well as metalanguage being consciously applied to parliamentary and public debate.

What you make of all this, dear reader, is now up to you. Cheers again,



Metalanguage is a term which some students try to avoid approaching because it sounds too intimidating and mysterious.

Initially, I explain it to my students this way:

“Metalanguage is simply the language you use to think, talk and write about how others use language.”


You may engage in using metalanguage for a number of reasons: for example, to describe, to analyse, to endorse, to critique, to educate, to entertain, to manipulate. As a VCE English or English Language student, you will put the first two into practice.

English students use metalanguage to describe and analyse how language is used to persuade in relation to current media issues as well as how writers use language to construct fiction and non-fiction texts. Important aspects of language studied in this way include vocabulary and glossaries, grammar, tone, language devices, accent and dialect and structural, style and genre conventions. For further discussion of metalanguage and course expectations about it, please access the following link and read this informative post by VCE Study Guides.

Parents modelling and overtly teaching their young children the  ‘mother tongue’ are using  metalanguage daily to educate, as do educators teaching first and subsequent languages.

Comedians and social commentators use metalanguage to entertain and/or to evaluate the way in which people use language and the implications of this. When well known public figures have their use of language subjected to such treatment, it is often satiric and often politically motivated. One example is the ridicule attending the tendency of past US president, George Bush, to the language faux-pas. A highly intelligent and educated person can lose credibility if their command of language in the immediacy of impromptu speaking is less than their more considered and reflective written or rehearsed formats. Combined with losing political favour, it is a minefield for a politician thus afflicted.

By contrast, current US President, Barak Obama, showed enormous statesman-like promise in his inaugural speech. However, with the Global Financial Crisis repercussions and an extreme right wing driven backlash, he has come under fire not only for unpopular reforms promised but for being perceived by those wanting reform to be unable to back his promising speech with adequate policy and action. A double whammy.

When it comes to words within a public ‘performance’, appearance means much even if not representative of the content. Metalanguage can be used to discuss aspects of the delivery of the spoken word as well as the written word, to compare and contrast them and to analyse the interaction between them and the implications of how they enhance or detract from each other.

I acknowledge much of this content has a political bent. The ability to apply understanding of metalanguage is an important aspect of critical thinking in any field of human endeavour. In understanding socio-political events, issues and public debate, I consider awareness of language use and how it can influence our thinking and position our perspective as a cornerstone of being a good citizen.

I hope this gives a broader context which helps you to understand the rather pompous term, ‘metalanguage’.



Here’s an example of a poetry glossary or terminology resource; and also a resource for poetry types:

VCE Literature students and others studying poetry may find this alphabetical resource more detailed and extensive in its content:

Of course there are other relevant links you can find in your research.

You are invited to share links with others in the comments section along with other observations.

Introducing The Conversation

For all my Australian readers, especially my students; and of course any interested international readers, I would like to introduce a supplement to the Australian daily news cycle and an antidote, perhaps, to the media hype: I present you The Conversation.

Pics from Samsung 196         Who or What is The Conversation?

(from The Conversation website)

” The Conversation is an independent source of analysis, commentary and news from the university and research sector — written by acknowledged experts and delivered directly to the public. Our team of professional editors work with more than 4,500 registered academics and researchers to make this wealth of knowledge and expertise accessible to all.

We aim to be a site you can trust. All published work will carry attribution of the authors’ expertise and, where appropriate, will disclose any potential conflicts of interest, and sources of funding. Where errors or misrepresentations occur, we will correct these promptly.

Sincere thanks go to our Founding Partners who gave initial funding support: CSIROMonash UniversityUniversity of MelbourneUniversity of Technology Sydney and University of Western Australia.

Our initial content partners include those institutions, Strategic PartnerRMIT University and a growing list of member institutions. More than 180 institutions contribute content, including Australia’s research-intensive, Group of Eight universities.

We are based in Melbourne, Australia, and wholly owned by The Conversation Media Trust, a   not-for-profit company. ”

I commend it to you.



Emotional Appeals and Persuasion

Pics from Samsung 142

Emotional appeals may activate deep seated beliefs through appeals to values such as:

  1. Sense of family (Eg. ‘This is family-friendly’, ‘Our families are under fire!’)
  2. Sense of justice and fair play (Eg. Language such as ‘rights’, ‘fair go’, ‘Aussie Battlers’)
  3. Sense of pride, identity and belonging (Eg. National pride, Gay Pride, pride in one’s team etc)
  4. Sense of tradition and the familiar (Eg. Anzac Day Parade; ‘We mustn’t change’)
  5. Sense of decency, etiquette, manners and decorum (Eg. Language like, ‘Imagine behaving like that!’ ‘It’s the decent thing to do!’)
  6. Sense of duty and obligation (Eg. Language like, ‘We owe it to our children to…’)
  7. Sense of entitlement and privilege (Eg. Language like, ‘We’ve worked hard for…’)
  8. Sense of respect and honour (Eg. ‘The young ones have no respect!’ ‘What a hero!’)
  9. Sense of security and safety (Eg. ‘If this goes ahead, nobody will be secure!’)
  10. Sense of compassion and mercy (Eg. ‘What terrible suffering!’ ‘I forgive…’)
  11. Sense of the common bond of humanity, Brotherhood and Sisterhood (Eg. ‘Together, we shall rebuild!’ ‘We women/men must ensure that…’ )

Persuasive and evocative language can access primal emotions such as:

  1. Fear and anxiety (Warning people of reasonable, potential threats can motivate action but fear mongering is deliberate, unreasonable and extreme playing on fear to manipulate or to sensationalise.)
  2. Guilt and shame
  3. Anger
  4. Desire for power

Social change can threaten values held by individuals and groups, generating powerful feelings of fear or outrage. This response may be subtly manipulated by writers using language with connotations or cultural allusions or more blatantly stirred up by inflammatory or emotive language. Personal attacks of people opposed to the writer’s position are known as attacking the opposition and may include mockery, sarcasm, pejorative statements, name calling or mudslinging (comments or narratives which bring up someone’s alleged negative personal history). Commentary which is critical of those resisting change may include phrases like ‘sacred cow’.

When such powerful emotions are evoked, they can generate irrational responses from members of the public and ‘knee jerk’ reactions by policy makers. This may be just the outcome a writer desires. On the other hand, it may be an unintended result.

Consider this adage: *“The pen is mightier than the sword.”*

Words are powerful and should be governed well.

*This version of the adage originated from Cardinal Richelieu’s speech in Act II, Scene II of Edward Bulwer-Lytton’s 1839 play script, Richelieu; Or the Conspiracy.*

Controlling Killer Mosquitoes


Here’s a link to a short talk by Hadyn Parry on attempts to control the dengue fever carrying mosquito:

Filmed Nov 2012; posted Jan 2013. TEDSalon London Fall 2012;

Below are URL links to research being conducted at Monash University and James Cook University within an international team approach.

“The Australian field trials of the Eliminate Dengue Program are part-funded by the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health through the Grand Challenges in Global health Initiative of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.”

It is very refreshing to know that some extremely, even excessively, wealthy people, like Bill Gates of Microsoft fame, also have a strong social conscience. Philanthropy is most definitely something to be encouraged when it demonstrates such vision and ethical integrity.

Kudos to all involved in such brilliant and important endeavours.


PS: Advertising works! My curiosity was aroused when I read an advertising banner over a Freeway in Melbourne for Monash University research into eliminating this dengue fever carrying pest. It’s gone now (replaced by Christmas ham ads!)

EAL Listening & Responding #1

2012 Photos from Julie's iPhone 019      EAL (ESL) STUDENTS

I think you will find the BBC’s Learning English website a very helpful and interesting website:

For practice with listening and written responses here is an introductory link:

When you have listened and responded to this, you can find other topics on the website.

If you feel more confident, select a short talk which interests you.

You could:

  1.                 write down 5 – 10 new words, or words used in a surprising way;
  2.                 find the main argument or idea
  3.                 identify the supporting arguments or ideas
  4.                 write down any questions you have about the topic — What else do you want to know about it?

I hope you enjoy these links,


A Short Talk on Antisocial Phone Tricks

Today I found this short 3 1/2 minute speech, ‘Antisocial Phone Tricks’, by Renny Gleeson on from 2009.

From the title, what do you anticipate hearing?

Before you click the link, I will give a language alert. The speech is clear but there is one image containing a word which may offend. I apologise for this; However, I consider the message to be very important.

OK, now the teacher in me steps forward, without apology.

Below are some questions to exercise your critical thinking skills:

Were you surprised by what he spoke about or was this what you expected?

What did you think of his speaking style? Did he speak clearly and with variation in delivery? Were the graphics always matched to his spoken word for clarity and impact? Were there too few, the right balance or too many? Why do you think so?

What is the main point of his speech? What key ideas did he raise?

Did Gleeson use new vocabulary to you or use known words in different and surprising ways? How did this add to or detract from your listening experience?

How did he use humour to challenge attitudes? Did it work for you? Why or why not?

When do you think he made his intended purpose clear to you?

Is this a wake up call in 2013? Is it any less or more relevant today?

Do you agree with Renny Gleeson’s parting request? Would you view or word it differently?

For those of you studying the VCE Context Exploring Identity and Belonging, there are a couple of interesting images towards the end of the speech. Try a screen capture of them and place a copy in your folio of materials to consider. In fact those studying any of the other three Year 12 Contexts – Encountering Conflict, Imaginative Landscape, Whose Reality? – or Year 11 Contexts  – Eg. Technology and Society, Future Worlds, Migrant Experience & Growing Up – are sure to find material in this talk and presentation of interest.

Wishing you happy and satisfying thinking,