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Teaching A-Level English Language by wxc32024

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									                   Teaching A-Level English Language
            (Source: AQA GCE English Language Specification B)

Students taking A-level English language have increased markedly since
2000 and are often taught in large groups, especially at AS where many
students may have topped up their timetable with a one-year English option.
English language has made considerable demands on school and FE
departments, requiring resources and teacher knowledge.

English Language is taught in frameworks for analysing language. The course
will introduce the nature and functions of the English language includes
(i)      theoretical knowledge about language and practical investigation and
(ii)     the further development of personal expertise in reading, writing,
         speaking and listening. Of the six modules provided, the three AS
         modules are the foundation for language study; these are developed in
         the three A Level modules.

AS consists of
o an introduction to the functions and structures of language
o an introduction to language use in different social contexts
o the development of candidates’ own language for specified purposes and

A2 consists of
o an exercise in editorial writing for different audiences and purposes
o a study of the acquisition of and changes in the English language.

   __________________________ o O o _________________________

Grades and assessments

It is instructive to look at the grade criteria and consider differences in
achievement required.

Grade A
In response to the tasks set, candidates demonstrate a comprehensive
theoretical knowledge of the way language works as a multi-layered system,
through their analysis and evaluation of a range of material from the present
to the past. They select and apply analytical frameworks appropriately and
systematically in their own investigation and research, evaluating the
usefulness of the approaches taken to the description of spoken and written
English. Candidates explore perceptively and critically concepts and
viewpoints relating to language in use, supporting coherent, well-argued
discussion with relevant examples, using appropriate terminology. Their
writing is fluent, well structured, accurate and precise, demonstrating
awareness of a wide range of different audiences and purposes.
Grade C
In response to the tasks set, candidates demonstrate secure knowledge and
understanding of linguistic ideas and concepts in their use of analytical
frameworks to identify and discuss significant features of spoken and written
language. They distinguish important elements of language variation in past
and present usage, explaining these by reference to context and using
examples to support their interpretations. They show awareness of different
approaches to language study and different attitudes to language use,
informed by their own investigative studies of speech or writing. Their writing
in a range of tasks is accurate and clear, showing an ability to use technical
language appropriately, and some adaptation to audience and purpose.

Grade E
In response to the tasks set, candidates demonstrate some knowledge and
understanding of the way different linguistic frameworks may be used and
applied in the study of language. They comment descriptively on some of the
ways in which spoken or written English varies according to the context of
use, without necessarily distinguishing the impact of different factors.
Candidates show an appreciation of topical issues surrounding the use of
English which may be informed by some investigation of samples of speech
and writing. Their writing conveys basic ideas and is generally accurate if non-
technical in expression, showing some awareness of the needs of different
audiences and purposes.

Some concepts of language taught
At AS Level candidates should be introduced to the interacting systems of the
English language (its phonology, lexis and grammar), and understand how
these construct and communicate meanings (semantics, pragmatics and
discourse). Concepts and terminology should encompass language functions
as well as structures.

   __________________________ o O o _________________________

AS Modules – general introduction and content

Module 1 - Introduction to the Study of Language
Introduces ways of investigating and understanding uses and contexts for
spoken and written English in the modern world. It stresses the diversity of
choices available in structure and style, and the significance of these factors
in constructing meanings.

This investigation of language requires the systematic application of the
following descriptive frameworks to texts: lexical, grammatical (word,
sentence and text level), phonological, semantic and pragmatic. These
concepts and descriptive approaches together provide systematic frameworks
in which candidates may learn about the nature and functions of language.
This module introduces students to the central concepts described below:
o register situational variation and register: how language varies in relation
   to audiences, purposes and contexts
o mode how language may vary as a consequence of the channel of
   communication (speech, writing and mixed modes)
o idiolect the language style acquired by individuals as a result of their
   personal characteristics, systems of belief (ideologies) and social
o dialect the variations in language produced as a result of local community
   and regional diversity
o sociolect language variations produced by the effects of education, socio-
   economic class, systems of belief (ideologies), occupation and
   membership of any other social groups.

The following descriptions of language are taught to identify and discuss both
the language system and its diverse uses and
o lexis vocabulary choices available to users of English
o grammar the fundamental structures and functions of English: the written
   word, spoken utterances, sentences and texts
o phonology/ the contribution made by the voice to the phonetics
   communication of meaning, including intonation, rhythm, pace, volume,
   word stress and pauses in spoken English
o semantics the ways in which meanings, implicit and explicit, are
   deconstructed and understood in English both spoken and written
o pragmatics the ways in which social conventions and implied meanings
   are encoded in spoken and written language.
o discourse (i) stretches of speech or conversation (ii) the ways language is
   used to express the interests of a particular group or institution e.g. the
   discourse of medicine, the law, politics, the media
o graphology the contribution made to the meaning of a text by writing,
   printing and images as a system of signs.

Module 2 - Language and Social Contexts
Introduces to the interconnection between specific features of language in use
and different social contexts. Key concepts are: discourse and the factors
which create different styles and generic variation; register and the specific
linguistic features that create it; implicit meanings and the ways in which these
are encoded in texts; literal and metaphorical usage of language in different

Topics for study are:

English Dialects of the British Isles
Students study: the variety of regional forms in terms of accent, lexis and
grammar; the social functions that dialects perform; the relationship between
dialects and Standard English; historical and contemporary changes, where
appropriate. They should examine
o social factors affecting variations within dialects
o representations in writing.
Language and Technology
Students will study: the variety of language forms insofar as they are affected
by the technological medium used for communication (e.g. telephone, radio,
television, computer); the social functions that such media perform in both
interpersonal and mass communication; historical and contemporary changes,
where appropriate. In particular, they investigate:
o everyday functions and activities in context
o discourse features.

Language and Occupational Groups
In preparing this topic area candidates should study: the forms and functions
of talk; registers and styles of writing; historical and contemporary changes,
where appropriate. In will investigate:
o everyday functions and activities (e.g. the role of interpersonal language)
o discourse features.

Module 3 - Original Writing
Develops students’ own expertise as writers, by requiring them to write for
different audiences and purposes. Some examples of original writing that
candidates might submit:
Writing to entertain - a short story
- a stand-up comedy routine
- a radio script
Writing to persuade - a piece of journalism
- a moral fable
- texts for an advertising campaign
Writing to inform - an account of an event
- an explanation of a process
- an article about an area of special interest
Writing to advise/instruct
- planning for an event or occasion
- making better use of computer software
- advice on managing money.

In studying texts in preparation students should study
o the use of appropriate register and style (incl characteristics of genres and
o the purposes and skills of drafting and re-         (incl. appropriate choice
    of lexis, syntax and discourse strategies)
o how to analyse and review the production of their own texts
o how to analyse and review the reception of their own texts.

A2 Modules – general introduction and content

Module 4 – Investigating Language
Students initiate their own small research project on an aspect of spoken or
written English in use. These are some examples of investigations:
a. An analytical study of some differences between spoken and written
b. A study of transcribed examples of a regional variety of spoken English.
c. A study of examples of the English spelling system.
d. Observations of the speech (or writing) of individuals in the process
of language development.
e. A study of norms and variations in everyday uses of English.
f. A transcription (with commentary) of a stretch of everyday discourse.
g. A description of some characteristics of the written and/or spoken

English of a distinct occupational, professional or other social group.
h. An exploration of stylistic features of popular media.
i. An analysis and comparison of contrasted texts.
j. A study of language choices made by bi-lingual or multi-lingual
individuals in the community.
k. An exploration of some features of a particular language in use in the
community, compared with English.
l. An analysis of a particular area of semantics in English.

Students use and show their ability to apply these skills establish an
appropriate context for investigation
o collect data or select texts for investigation, in a principled and sensitive
o                          e spoken English, as appropriate
o                                                                     sustained,
   reflective and practical way
o                                                                      the study
   of language
o draw conclusions to show an awareness of both the limitations and value
   of investigations into data
o organise material coherently and use an appropriate style of writing
o present findings in an accessible format, ensuring accuracy and relevance

Module 5 - Editorial Writing
Students produce a new text based on pre-released source material.

Student preparing for this will revise and rehearse these topics from previous
o the influence of social context, form and language
o creation and interpretation of meaning
o a variety of genres, forms, modes and registers of writing
o editing, transforming and re-presenting a variety of source material for new
  audiences and purposes.

When composing and editing student need to appreciate
o the nature of the reading process, including the ways in which readers
  respond to different purposes and contexts
o the structure and convention of different genres, including an
  understanding of the formal features of texts
o the nature of the writing process, including compositional skills such as the
  ability to respond to the needs of different audiences
o                           l skills, including paraphrase and summary, control
  of register and personal style, including tone and voice
o the different approaches and methodologies used in the study of

Module 6 - Language Development
Students study the concepts and theories of language change and language
acquisition in these two topics:
1. acquisition of English by children
2. the growth of and changes in English over time.

This module is synoptic. Synopticity involves the explicit synthesis of insights
developed through the application of theoretical frameworks to the study of
Language, both spoken and written. This means students must show
evidence that their critical understanding of meaning and variation in language
is informed by theory and they must also demonstrate interpretation and
expression in accurate, well-argued writing.

Language Acquisition
This area teaches students about the nature and functions of language in the
individual and social development of humans. They learn some of the
distinctive features of speech and literacy development in children from 0 to
11 years, who are native users of English.

These include
   acquisition of phonology, lexis and grammar in order to achieve purposes
o the significance of social interaction in language acquisition and the
   development of innate structures to achieve, continue and extend
   interpersonal communication (turn-taking, politeness rules, implied
   meanings, specific contexts, social awareness and other discourse
o the connections between developments in children’s language and their
  general conceptual development
o the beginnings of reading and writing.

Language Change
Here students explore historical and contemporary changes in the English
language together with consideration of explanations of their causes and
effects. Students use their knowledge of systematic frameworks, so that they
can see how change affects semantics as well as grammar, lexis and
phonology. This module concentrates on these areas for study
o change as an inherent feature of living language
o a brief overview of the historical development of English to identify
    different ways in which language changes over time and continues to
    change in contemporary experience
o the ways in which style has changed in spoken and written English
o the socio-cultural causes and consequences of language change in
    English over time
o the relationship between dialectical variation and temporal change.

   __________________________ o O o _________________________

Language terms

Some of the terms in language study can be daunting. Below is an
introductory list but see Sara Thorne for more help.

o  word formation (morphology)
o  levels of formality (register)
o  technical and non-technical vocabulary

o design
o layout
o typeface

o denotational and connotational meaning
o semantic fields
o synonymy
o antonymy
o processes in semantic change
o figurative language
o pragmatic meaning
o context dependence (deixis)
Grammar (morphology & syntax)
o lexical and grammatical word classes
o types of noun
o adjectives (incl. comparison of adjectives)
o adverbs (incl. comparison of adverbs)
o verbs (person, number, tense, aspect, voice, modal auxiliaries, negation)
o pronouns
o conjunctions
o determiners
o morphemes

Phonology & Phonetics
o alliteration
o assonance
o pace, pause
o rhythm
o rhyme
o consonants/vowels
o voice, place and manner of articulation

   __________________________ o O o _________________________

Potential Citizenship and PSME links
(Spiritual, Moral, Ethical, Social and Cultural Issues)

Studying language offers potential for considering spiritual, moral, ethical,
social and cultural issues. This can be addressed in these modules:

Module 1 - introduces the central role of language in social and cultural

Module 2 - addresses how socio-cultural attitudes and values are encoded in

Module 3 – has the potential to engage with spiritual, moral and ethical issues
of students’ own choice through original writing;

Module 4 - gives candidates the opportunity to explore linguistic aspects of an
issue of their own choice (e.g. how language choices reflect and encode the
moral and ethical standpoints of pro- and antiabortion groups);

Module 5 - will require candidates to give serious consideration to a
wide variety of spiritual, moral, ethical, social and cultural issues (e.g.
the use and control of nuclear power; caring for the sick);

Module 6 addresses the social and cultural implications of language
Change (e.g. language and attitudes to disability, gender and ethnicity).

   __________________________ o O o _________________________
A-level presentation topics

GCE AS and A2 English Language

The GCE AS and A2 English Language provide the frameworks that are the
basis for work in the Phase 2 language study sessions and the individual
presentation assignment.

Language study module topics:
ENB 1      The Study of Language
ENB 2      Language and Social Contexts
ENB 3      Original Writing
ENB 4      Investigating Language
ENB 5      Editorial Writing
ENB 6      Language Development

A copy of the AQA Specification B is available on the PGCE English Portal
site, and available (as a .pdf file) at

Topics for this presentation will be:

Annotated and analysed examples of phrasal & auxiliary verbs
in spoken or written language

Annotated and analysed examples of Open and closed word classes
in spoken or written language

Annotated and analysed examples of variety in subordinated clause
in spoken or written language

Annotated and analysed examples of pre- and post-modification in spoken or
written language

Annotated and analysed examples of gender bias in a spoken or written

Forms and functions of a newspaper discourse
Forms and functions of a written or spoken political discourse

Forms and functions of a written or spoken advertising discourse

Forms and functions of a written or spoken advertising discourse

Forms and functions of a written or spoken legal discourse

A study of transcribed examples of a regional variety of spoken English.

An analytical study of some differences between written and spoken English.

An analytical study of some individual’s written or spoken English discourse
(e.g. a famous speech).

One theory of child spoken language acquisition
The primacy of speech and learning the sound system in native English
speaking children’s spoken language development between 0 and 7 years old

One theory of child spoken language acquisition
The significance of social interaction in native English speaking children’s
language development between 0 and 7 years old (politeness rules, turn-

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