Exploring composing

The English K-10 Syllabus has identified the key processes of composing and responding as central to students using language purposefully and meaningfully and engaging with a wide range of texts.

Through composing and responding to texts with imagination, feeling, logic and conviction, students:

  • learn about the power, value and art of the English language for communication, knowledge and enjoyment
  • develop an understanding of themselves and of the human experience and culture.


Composing texts is more than just the creation of written or print texts. Composing also includes speaking (spoken texts) and representing (visual texts).


Communications of meaning produced in any media that incorporates language, including sound, print, film, electronic and multimedia representations. Texts include written, spoken, non-verbal, visual or multimodal communications of meaning. They may be extended unified works, a series of related pieces or a single, simple piece of communication.

Types of text

Classifications based upon the purposes of texts. These purposes influence the features that texts employ. In general, texts can be classified as belonging to one of three types: imaginative, informative or persuasive, although it is acknowledged that these distinctions are neither static nor watertight and particular texts can belong to more than one category.

Consider this multimodal text, A recipe for making delicious shortbread. To strictly classify this text into a text type would be difficult. It is an example of a digital text that is visual, persuasive in nature as well as informative.

Imaginative texts

Texts that represent ideas, feelings and mental images in words or visual images. An imaginative text might use metaphor to translate ideas and feelings into a form that can be communicated effectively to an audience. Imaginative texts also make new connections between established ideas or widely recognised experiences in order to create new ideas and images. They are characterised by originality, freshness and insight. These texts include novels, traditional tales, poetry, stories, plays, fiction for young adults and children, including picture books and multimodal texts such as film.

Informative texts

Texts whose primary purpose is to provide information through explanation, description, argument, analysis, ordering and presentation of evidence and procedures. These texts include reports, explanations and descriptions of natural phenomena, recounts of events, instructions and directions, rules and laws, news bulletins and articles, websites and text analyses. They include texts which are valued for their informative content, as a store of knowledge and for their value as part of everyday life.

Persuasive texts

Texts whose primary purpose is to put forward a point of view and persuade a reader, viewer or listener. They form a significant part of modern communication in both print and digital environments. Persuasive texts seek to convince the responder of the strength of an argument or point of view through information, judicious use of evidence, construction of argument, critical analysis and the use of rhetorical, figurative and emotive language. They include student essays, debates, arguments, discussions, polemics, advertising, propaganda, influential essays and articles. Persuasive texts may be written, spoken, visual or multimodal.


This is the language mode that involves composing images in visual or multimodal texts. These images and their meaning are composed using codes and conventions. The term can include such activities as graphically presenting the structure of a novel, making a film, composing a web page or enacting a dramatic text.

The process of composing

Composing is the activity that occurs when students produce written, spoken or visual texts.

Composing typically involves:

  • the shaping and arrangement of textual elements to explore and express ideas, emotions and values
  • the processes of imagining, organising, analysing, drafting, appraising, synthesising, reflecting and refining
  • knowledge, understanding and use of the language forms, features and structures of texts
  • awareness of audience and purpose.

Students today are immersed in many types of traditional and multimodal texts on a daily basis at home and at school. We should support students to:

  • make sense of these texts
  • think about their responses to texts as well as their compositions.

Working with the syllabus

Outcomes with composing represented

Outcome Early Stage 1 Stage 1 Stage 2 Stage 3
Represented explicitly ENe-1A
Represented ENe-4A

The mode continuum

The mode continuum is a line where you can record from most spoken-like to most written-like.

This tool can ensure:

  • a variety of composing experiences are provided for students
  • composing experiences range from more spoken-like and informal at the start to more written-like and formal towards the end of a learning sequence. This enables the academic language can be built up along the way and the students will be more able to express their ideas when they compose more complex academic texts.

You should consider oracy as an essential part of the teaching-learning sequence. as it is fundamental to responding and composing.

Remember – speaking is an aspect of composing.

Composing in the classroom

Where to next?

All syllabus references are from English K-10 Syllabus © 2012 NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) for and on behalf of the Crown in right of the State of New South Wales.

Instructions – With the mode continuum in mind, sort these activities from most spoken-like to most written-like. Number each sentence according to where you think they occur in the sequence. Number 1 will be ‘most spoken like’ and number 8 will be ‘most written like.’

  • Finding recipes and pictures of hamburgers in magazines and on websites
  • Sharing written descriptions
  • Giving an oral description of a hamburger
  • Talking about what you know about hamburgers while looking at picture
  • Labelling hamburger pictures with descriptive language
  • In a group creating a word bank of words to describe a hamburger
  • Sharing the word bank with other groups and adding more word to your word bank
  • Creating written descriptions and sharing
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