Though this is a 5-marks component in your English Paper 2, media literacy remains a critical skill for us to get around. Studies have shown that city-dwellers are exposed to easily 4,000 advertisements a day. They are literally everywhere, from mobile phones to MRT stations, posters at bus stops to posters in front of urinals in the gents (check out Cineleisure or Marina Bay Sands toilets). Hence, it is important that we know what the creators of these advertisements mean. Sometimes, they are not explicitly told!

In this resource, I will be explaining 3 different types of questions that are commonly found in your exams.

Qn: Who are the intended target audience that this webpage is likely to appeal to? [1 mark]

Ans: People who are planning their holiday travels [1] OR People who are shopping around the different travel sites for the best deals [1].

Many students get complacent when they see this question because it is worth only 1 mark and it is assumed to be simple. Well, it is not rocket science, but nonetheless, it requires accurate discerning and phrasing of your answer. Answers like “Travelers” or “People who wants wifi on the plane” will not get the mark because the answers are inaccurate. Many a time, teachers do get the rough idea what the student is implying, but getting the idea is not convincing enough to award a mark. Answers have to be clear and explicit.

Further, “travelers” are not the target audience because if they have already decided on their travel plans, they will likely not be interested in seeing what the airline has to provide. Hence, the target audience for this webpage is none other than people who are looking for traveling options.

Qn: With reference to the main banner in yellow, what is the objective of this webpage? [1 mark]

Ans: To entice/attract potential customers to fly with them because they provide internet connectivity onboard the flight [1].
Unaccepted: To entice/attract potential customers to fly with them. (Inadequate reasoning. Student should allude their call to action to the banner picture in the webpage for accuracy)

Again, this is a favourite question for the exam because this is the clearest way to sift out discerning students from the cohort. This question requires students to identify the “call to action” of the advertisement. ALL, and I repeat, ALL posters or commercials or webpages have an objective that they want the customers to catch. Either to attract customers to buy their products, to inform them of an event, or to persuade them of a certain lifestyle that they are advocating. No advertisements are made for nothing. I mean, it costs a lot of money to design, print, publish, distribute, etc. Why would it be for nothing?!

In this case, the action that Scoot wants their target audience to take is clearly to sign up with them. Not just that, but also in view of the perks (internet connectivity and power source in flight) that they hope to entice on-the-go internet users. Most students lose marks even though they stated the correct call to action because their answers are incomplete. Students’ answers must be as precise as possible, supporting their answers by various features of the webpage to show understanding.

Qn: Other than ‘in-flight Wi-fi and in-seat power outlets’, identify another phrase that would attract potential customers as well. [1 mark]

Ans: The phrase is ‘onboard the new Boeing 787’ [1].
Unaccepted: “Connect to friends in high places.” (This is a sentence, complete with punctuation, not a phrase)

Students often ask, “do I have to state the reason to support the phrase chosen?” You don’t have to. The question doesn’t require that of you. Hence, the identification of the phrase would suffice. Although this question is seemingly rudimentary, it is a question that many students lose because they are either unsure of what a phrase is, or they simply couldn’t identify the other phrase accurately.

All phrases should be tested to see if it does fulfill the objective of attracting potential customers. Also, students must learn how to only give the necessary words to form the phrase. Singaporean students tend to give too many words for the phrase, and end up losing the mark due to excess. Tip: remove the words at both the ends of the phrases but retain the meaning. The moment the meaning of the phrase changes, you would likely need that word back in the phrase. For example, “the new Boeing 787” and “onboard the new Boeing 787” means entirely different things. The former doesn’t promise potential customers that they will be onboard the new Boeing, but the latter does. So keep the word “onboard”. Test your phrases and keep the marks!

Qn: With reference to the sentence “Connect to friends in high places”, how is the language used effectively? [2 marks]

Ans: “Connect to friends in high places” can be both understood as friends with people who are famous and/or powerful, as well as interacting with friends through the internet while you are high in altitude [1]. This language used is effective because both meanings of the sentence can be appealing to the potential customers who flies with them [1].

Language use questions are often the bane of students. To put it simply, students are required to identify the meaning of the phrase (that will give you 1 mark), and apply the meaning to the context of the phrase (that will give you the other mark). Many students stop short at a generic answer like “there is a word play on the phrase high places”. This is incomplete because it doesn’t show the application of the meaning to the context of the phrase.

This type of question will enable teachers to identify students who truly understand the nuances of the language used for certain effects. Most good and effective advertisements use very little words, hence, it is paramount for students to be able to identify the double meanings (if any) of the phrase or by-line, to be able to glean fully from the advertisement.