A Level English Language allows students to engage with a range of different texts and discourses. The course focuses on the English language both as a medium of communication and as a topic in its own right. The course gives students an opportunity to focus on their own language and contextual factors that impact on language use and choice and then branch outwards to consider language variation on a wider scale and public discourses about variety and change.
Students will learn how to analyse and interpret language use in a variety of different contexts and there will be opportunity for a more thoughtful, discursive approach to how language shapes thought and defines human beings. The course contains three units at the end of the second year. Two exams, and one NEA (Non exam assessment).
In order that students have full access to everything we study and that they enjoy the course, we require B grade (or higher) in their GCSE English Language and Literature.
In the first year, students will have the opportunity to look at how language varies in different contexts and how different ideas are represented through language. Students will study texts from different contexts and strengthen their methods of analysis so that they can analyse and interpret them in the end of year exam. They will also have to compare two texts in the exam, demonstrating a strong understanding of the methods for analysing language and a strong consideration of the contextual factors.
The second exam in the first year involves a more discursive essay on language diversity, with a choice of two questions. Students will study how language represents men and women, and also develop a strong understanding of how language shapes attitudes and represents certain groups and individuals. There will also be a directed writing task on attitudes to language in this exam.
In the second year of study, students will look at the way children develop and acquire their language. They will be assessed again in the form of an exam at the end of this year that directs them to analyse two texts and compare them. In addition, they will have to write a discursive essay on children’s language development. There will be data provided here that will encourage students to use their extensive understanding of the topic to respond to the issues raised by the data set provided.
The second exam in year 2 asks students to write an essay either on language diversity or language change. They will also write a discursive response to texts that use language to present ideas, attitudes and opinions.
The final unit of the course is a non-exam assessment opportunity. This component of the course invites students to produce a language investigation and a piece of their own original writing. The word count for this is 3,500 words and it is the aspect that many students in the past have really enjoyed. There have been examples in the past of students who have provided research that is useful and illuminating in the field of linguistics.
Beyond the classroom.
This is a subject that is rich, diverse and dynamic. It often appeals to scientists as well as students who are fascinated by the writing process, and language and the power it possesses. Many students go onto become practitioners in the field of Speech and Language Therapy, Law and Psychology. Some want to write professionally, and students last year applied for forensic linguistics, or English Language degrees. Linguistics itself is an ambitious and diverse degree that appeals to many students after their experience at A Level.
This course is dynamic, challenging and engaging. Students must be passionate about the English language, prepared to work independently, attend extra sessions and workshops as offered, read, explore and think! The course covers both art and science, creative writing to sociolinguistics, politics to psychology and involves analysis and debate.