(Below is a scaffold for my students for our HSC Module B: Critical Study of Text speaking assessment task. It could help teachers/students doing close or critical study of any text, really. More about this task – including the handout – can be found here and here.)
POSSIBLE STRUCTURE FOR YOUR SPEECH (FOR THOSE WHO ARE STRUGGLING)
INTRODUCTION: directly address the key words/ideas in the essay question. Identify which essays you will be speaking about in the speech (all or a couple). Outline your thesis – this will just be what you think Orwell attempts to do with his essays (so to make it easy, just select on or two key ideas). Remember that what we want to see is that you have developed a personal, critical response to the essays … this is your ‘thesis’.
WHAT WAS YOUR INITIAL RESPONSE TO THE ESSAYS? be specific and honest – did you like the essays? did you like Orwell’s style? His content? WHY DID YOU HAVE THIS RESPONSE? give a couple of examples from the essays to support this. THEN TELL US THAT THIS HAS EVOLVED … WHAT DO YOU THINK NOW? (this is your thesis)
(there are two ways to go about this, one where you focus
on a couple of essays, one where you focus on all the essays – for those doing TWO essays, you might want to treat each essay separately like I have with Yeats and threading the following points together as you discuss each essay.)
WHAT DID YOU LEARN ABOUT HIS CONTEXT? only talk about that which is relevant to your thesis!! Consider where he published these essays – who was his audience? WHY DID THIS HELP YOU TO UNDERSTAND HIS IDEAS/PURPOSE BETTER? make sure you link this to the essays … give evidence from the essay.
WHAT DID YOU LEARN ABOUT THE ESSAY FORM? You might want to show off a little and say something about Michel de Monaigne and the French definition of the word ‘essai’ … tell us something briefly about the essay form – is it what you are familiar with? Why do people write essays? HOW DOES ORWELL USE THE STRUCTURE AND FEATURES OF THE ESSAY FORM TO EXPRESS HIS IDEAS? Think about why he chose to write essays and not ‘articles’ per se … why didn’t he just write poems, or plays, or novels? This must link directly to the essays you are discussing.
WHAT DID YOU LEARN FROM READING CRITICAL RESPONSES TO THE ESSAYS OF ORWELL (OR JUST ABOUT ORWELL AS A WRITER)? You should refer to one or two critics – you really need to get to HOW this response altered your original thoughts on Orwell as a writer and thinker (as an ‘artist’) … did it make you change your way of thinking, did it challenge you to defend your original position, did it reinforce what you were already thinking about Orwell? Give examples from the critics (just a half a sentence or a sentence quote – we want YOUR ideas about Orwell, not the critic’s) and also examples from the essays to support your evolving appreciation of them.
NOW WHAT DO YOU THINK OF ORWELL AS A WRITER/THINKER/ARTIST? This is a return to the subjective frame and acknowledging the evolution of your response to his essays – might be a good idea to refer to his essays as being ‘significant’ and ‘valuable’.
REMEMBER … AT ALL OF THESE POINTS YOU NEED TO BE RETURNING IMPLICITLY TO THE ESSAY QUESTION … FOCUSING ON THAT IDEA THAT THE ESSAYS ARE SIGNIFICANT AND VALUABLE … THEREFORE THEY ENDURE. REMEMBER WHAT WE DISCUSSED IN CLASS YESTERDAY ABOUT ORWELL TAPPING INTO THE THREE KEY COMPONENTS OF THE ARTIST: THE AESTHETIC, RHETORICAL AND ETHICAL.
NOTE: Please don’t forget that this is a SPEECH! Use your rhetorical devices – repetition, rhetorical questions, dramatic pause, strong statement, anecdotes, humour, accumulation.
Good luck! Send me your speeches for proof-reading/editing no later than 48 hours BEFORE you have chosen to present.