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English Language

What is it about at sixth-form level?

When doing your GCSEs in English language and perhaps English Literature you will have commented on how language can be used to achieve effects and you will have created a variety of texts, like letters and descriptions. You will have had the chance to write creatively. All of this experience is a sound basis for undertaking this A level which takes the analysis of language much further. We develop a methodology for the analysis of language and apply it to language as it occurs in a wide range of contexts, from children’s spoken and written language to the language of advertisements and the mass media. We also look at how language has changed from 1550 to the present day.

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Lower sixth
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Why study it and what skills does it develop?

English Language A level is a challenging academic course which is respected by universities. It enables you to look under the surface of language and to see how meaning is often conveyed in ways that are not explicit. It is a subject that matches up well with other humanities subjects.

What prior knowledge and skills are required?

You will need at least a 6 (B) in English Language GCSE. Many students on the one-year course will already have a good knowledge of the subject from previous study. A love of reading is essential, including texts from previous eras, e.g. Dickens and Shakespeare. As the qualification is based largely (70%) on unseen material you will need to know the basic methodologies very well indeed.

How is the course assessed?

A level

The A level is a linear assessment in the Summer term of the one-year course. The assessment consists of three examined units and one centre-assessed unit (coursework). The examined units are: Unit 1, Language Variety, two hours and fifteen minutes, 35% of the qualification, comprising a question on two 21st century unseen texts and a question on two unseen texts from different historical periods; Unit 2, Child Language, one hour and fifteen minutes, 20% of the qualification. There is one question on unseen data, either written or spoken; Unit 3, Language Investigation, one hour and forty-five minutes, 25% of the qualification. One question is on unseen data and there is an essay question drawing on the student’s acquired knowledge of the topic; Unit 4, Crafting Language, 20% of the qualification, comprising two written pieces (1500-2000 words in total) and a commentary on the written pieces (1000 words maximum).

Reading

Working with texts: A Core Introduction to Language Analysis
By Maggie Bowring, Ronald Carter, Angela Goddard, Danuta Reah and Keith Sanger
Published by Routledge, ISBN 978-0415234658

How Children Learn Language
By William O’Grady
Published Cambridge University Press, ISBN 978-0521531924

Pragmatics
By George Yule
Published Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0194372077

Exam Board and Specification Codes

Pearson Edexcel AS:8ENO, A level:9ENO

Richard Martin
Head of Department

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