A-level English Language
At AS and A-level, English Language students explore ways of analysing texts and spoken interaction systematically using new frameworks of technical terminology. This is developed against a background of linguistic theory covering a range of topics: Gender, Dialect and Accent, Political Correctness and Social Values, amongst others. Students will also study the Acquisition and Development of Children’s Language, the History and Diversity of English Language, along with the social and cultural influences that cause it to change. Students do not spend time looking at ‘set texts’ but, instead, focus on everyday language and interaction in a variety of forms.
Lessons involve both individual and group work including a personally researched investigation topic. Students are expected to be actively involved in discussion and even lead debates on occasion. This subject combines very well with others such as Sociology, Psychology, History, Law and English Literature.
Although other possibilities may be considered, this course is best suited to students with grade 5/6 in English at GCSE (or equivalent). In addition, students need to be open-minded, interested in current affairs and have an enquiring mind.
The specification we follow is AQA English Language. In accordance with College policy, ALL students will be entered for AS, regardless of whether or not they intend to follow the course for the full two years.
AS level (one year): Students will explore Textual Variation, Representation, Language Diversity, Attitudes towards Language Diversity and Directed Writing assessed through two examinations:
- Paper 1: Language and the Individual: Students explore Methods of Language Analysis and Textual Variations and Representations. Paper 1 is a written exam lasting 1 hour and 30 minutes, comprising three questions requiring analysis and comparison of two texts.
- Paper 2: Language Varieties: an examined unit again exploring Methods of Language Analysis and assessing Language Diversity and Writing Skills. Paper 2 is a written exam lasting 1 hour and 30 minutes. Section A requires an essay on Language Diversity and Section B is a Directed Writing task on Attitudes to Language.
A-level (two years): Assessment is through two written examinations and Non-Exam Assessment (coursework). Note: Students need to be aware that the topics covered for examination at AS level are also examined at the end of the two year A-level course, although the breakdown of the examinations will be different.
- Paper 1: Language, The Individual and Society: Students explore Methods of Language Analysis alongside Textual Variations and Representations and Children’s Language Development (0-11 years). Paper 1 is a written exam lasting 2 hours and 30 minutes. Section A requires textual analysis and comparison on ‘Textual Variations and Representations’ and Section B requires a discursive essay on ‘Children’s Language Development’.
- Paper 2: Language Diversity and Change: an examined unit again exploring Methods of Language Analysis and assessing Language Diversity and Change, Language Discourses and Writing Skills. Paper 2 is a written exam lasting 2 hours and 30 minutes. Section A requires an evaluative essay on either Language Variety or Language Change; Section B focuses on Language Discourse and involves Analysis of texts and a Directed Writing task.
Non-Exam Assessment: Language in Action: Students produce a portfolio of approximately 3,500 words comprising a Language Investigation of 2,000 words and a Piece of Original Writing (including a Commentary) of 1,500 words.
|AS (1 year course):|
|Paper 1: Language and the Individual. A written exam with three questions requiring analysis and comparison of two texts. |
1 hour 30 minutes. 50% of AS Level mark.
Paper 2: Language Varieties. A written exam – Section A requiring an essay on Language Diversity and Section B being a Directed Writing task on Attitudes to Language.
1 hour and 30 minutes. 50% of AS Level mark.
|A Level (2 year course):|
|Paper 1: Language, the Individual and Society. A written exam – Section A: ‘Textual Variations and Representations’ requires textual analysis and comparison; Section B: ‘Children’s Language Development’ requires a Discursive Essay on Children’s Language and Development. 2 hours and 30 minutes. 40% of A Level mark. |
Paper 2: Language Diversity and Change. A written exam – Section A requires an evaluative essay on either Language Variety or Language Change; Section B focuses on Language Discourse and involves Analysis of texts and a Directed Writing task. 2 hours and 30 minutes. 40% of A Level mark.
Non-Exam Assessment: Language in Action.
A coursework portfolio of 3,500 words in total: comprising a Language Investigation of 2,000 words excluding Data and a piece of Original Writing with a Commentary totalling 1,500 words. 20% of A Level mark.
Where does it lead?
This subject is very versatile, containing elements and skills that are useful in a range of Higher Education courses and careers. If you are interested in pursuing areas that involve communication such as Journalism, Drama and Theatre Studies, Teaching, Media, Business, Language Therapy or Law then this course is both interesting and useful and demonstrates to any future employer that you have sound language skills and that you are able to use and evaluate language appropriately.
As already indicated, there are no set texts; however, students interested in this subject could explore:
- The history of English Language and the early influences on it, up to the Early Modern Period.
- Any material to do with children’s acquisition of language.
- Theorists such as: Sapir and Whorf; Guy Deutscher; Deborah Cameron; Dale Spender; Deborah Tannen; Pamela Fishman; Janet Holmes; Bernstein, Kerswill and Rosewarne; Trudgill and Cheshire. Please be aware that this is not a prescribed list.