A-Level English Language - What can you expect

May 30, 2017

AQA English Language and Literature A-Level: What can you expect?

What can you expect from English Language AQA

 

According to the specification, the AQA English Language A-Level outright is assessed across three components, including two exam papers:

Paper 1: Language, the individual and society

What's assessed

• Textual variations and representations

• Children's language development (0–11 years)

Students should explore how children develop their spoken and written skills. To achieve this, students should study:

• the functions of children’s language

• phonological, pragmatic, lexical, semantic and grammatical development

• different genres of speech and writing

• different modes of communication (spoken, written, multimodal)

• theories and research about language development.

 

• Methods of language analysis are integrated into the activities

 

Students will be required to identify and describe features of language in the texts using methods of language analysis. In order to study textual variations and representations, students will be required to identify and describe salient features of language in the texts.

 

The following list is a guide to the areas of language students are expected to examine:

• phonetics, phonology and prosodics: how speech sounds and effects are articulated and analysed

• graphology: the visual aspects of textual design and appearance

• lexis and semantics: the vocabulary of English, including social and historical variation

• grammar, including morphology: the structural patterns and shapes of English at sentence, clause, phrase and word level

• pragmatics: the contextual aspects of language use

• discourse: extended stretches of communication occurring in different genres, modes and contexts.

 

Assessed

• written exam: 2 hours 30 minutes

• 100 marks

• 40% of A-level

Questions

Section A – Textual variations and representations

Two texts (one contemporary and one older text) linked by topic or theme.

• A question requiring analysis of one text (25 marks)

• A question requiring analysis of a second text (25 marks)

• A question requiring comparison of the two texts (20 marks)

 

Section B – Children's language development

A discursive essay on children’s language development, with a choice of two questions where the data provided will focus on spoken, written or multimodal language (30 marks)

Paper 2: Language diversity and change

What's assessed

• Language diversity and change

• Language discourses

• Writing skills

• Methods of language analysis are integrated into the activities

 

Students should study a range of examples of language in use and research data to inform their study of diversity and change:

 

• texts using different sociolects (to include social and occupational groups, gender and ethnicity)

• texts using different dialects (to include regional, national and international varieties of English)

• texts that use language to represent the different groups above

• texts from different periods, from 1600 to the present day

• written, spoken and electronic texts about a range of subjects, for various audiences and purposes in a variety of genres

• items from collections of language data (e.g. dictionaries, online resources, language corpora)

• research findings (e.g. tables, graphs, statistics).

 

When analysing texts and data, students should explore:

• how language varies because of personal, social, geographical and temporal contexts

• why language varies and changes, developing critical knowledge and understanding of different views and explanations

• attitudes to language variation and change

• the use of language according to audience, purpose, genre and mode

• how language is used to enact relationships.

 

This exploration will include:

• methods of language analysis

• how identity is constructed

• how audiences are addressed and positioned

• the functions of the texts

• the structure and organisation of the texts

• how representations are produced.

 

Students will be required to use methods of language analysis to:

• identify and describe features of language diversity and change

• research diversity and change

• analyse how texts present ideas about language.

The following list is a guide to the areas of language students are expected to examine:

• phonetics, phonology and prosodics: how speech sounds and effects are articulated and analysed

• graphology: the visual aspects of textual design and appearance

• lexis and semantics: the vocabulary of English, including social and historical variation

• grammar, including morphology: the structural patterns and shapes of English at sentence, clause, phrase and word level

• pragmatics: the contextual aspects of language use

• discourse: extended stretches of communication occurring in different genres, modes and contexts.

 Language discourses

Students will study a range of texts that convey attitudes to language diversity and change. The texts studied will include those written for non-specialist audiences.

Students will explore how texts are produced to convey views and opinions about language issues.

 

They will explore how texts:

• represent language

• construct an identity for the producer

• position the reader and seek to influence them

• are connected to discourses about language.

Writing skills

Students will develop skills in:

• writing discursively about language issues in an academic essay

• writing analytically about texts as parts of discourses about language

• writing about language issues in a variety of forms to communicate their ideas to a non-specialist audience.

Assessed

• written exam: 2 hours 30 minutes

• 100 marks

• 40% of A-level Questions

Section A – Diversity and change

One question from a choice of two: either: an evaluative essay on language diversity (30 marks) or: an evaluative essay on language change (30 marks)

Section B – Language discourses

Two texts about a topic linked to the study of diversity and change.

• A question requiring analysis of how the texts use language to present ideas, attitudes and opinions (40 marks)

• A directed writing task linked to the same topic and the ideas in the texts (30 marks)

Non-exam assessment: Language in action

The aim of this area of study is to allow students to explore and analyse language data independently and develop and reflect upon their own writing expertise.

It requires students to carry out two different kinds of individual research:

• a language investigation (2,000 words excluding data)

• a piece of original writing and commentary (750 words each).

 

Students can choose to pursue a study of spoken, written or multimodal data, or a mixture of text types, demonstrating knowledge in areas of individual interest.

 

In preparation for this, students need to study how to:

• identify an appropriate investigation topic and research questions

• select and apply a methodology for data collection and analysis

• work in greater depth and with greater range

• transcribe spoken data where appropriate

• use language concepts and ideas

• evaluate and draw conclusions on the findings of the investigation

• present findings in an appropriate and accessible way

• reference reading materials correctly

• evaluate the structures and conventions of a variety of genres

• plan, draft and redraft as part of the writing process

• reflect on the writing process using methods of language analysis.

Language investigation

Students may choose to pursue an area of individual interest. For example, this might include studies of:

• representations of different individuals, social groups or nationalities

• regional dialect

• gendered talk

• the language of new communication technologies

• children’s language use

• norms and variations in usages of different kinds

• the language of the media

• code switching and mixing between English and other languages

• the language of different occupations or pastimes

• historical changes in English over time.

 

Students are not obliged to restrict themselves to those areas that are formally taught, as the basis of the investigation is the value of student-led enquiry supported by open learning.

Therefore, any area seen by supervising teachers as yielding interesting questions about language in use may be chosen.

 

Students can ask a number of fruitful questions, which can be generated by questions such as the following:

 

1 A genre-based investigation: what are the distinctive features of this type of language use?

2 A function/use-based investigation: what is the language used to do?

3 An attitudes-based investigation: how do people feel about this language?

4 A user-based investigation: who uses this type of language?

 

Students will need to decide what kind of data they collect:

• spoken language

• written language

• multimodal language

• word lists (i.e. lists of new words etc.)

• attitudes to language

• uses of language

• views about language.

 

Underpinning this piece of research is the challenge that, in consultation with their supervising teacher, students should collect their own data as the basis of their study, as well as select their own approach for analysis.

 

Investigations need a specific focus, for example:

• the writing of two children aged 8

• features of the Devon dialect, based on a survey

• the language of wedding ceremonies from two different cultures

• the language of teachers’ reports

• the language used in three different advertisements for a particular product

• how stories are told in a particular comic

• how travel guides represent a particular community

• the language of sports commentary

• how turn-taking works in real-time writing online

• language patterns in the names of shops.

 

The list above is neither definitive nor prescriptive.

 

The investigation should contain the following sections.

Introduction

• Brief discussion of the reasons for choosing the investigation focus.

• What the investigation is trying to find out (aims).

 

Methodology

• An evaluative account of how the data was collected and organised for analysis.

• Approaches to analysis.

 

Analysis

• Analysis and interpretation of the findings, responding to the aim of the investigation.

• Critical consideration of relevant concepts and issues surrounding the topic area.

• Analysis of the contextual influences upon the data collected.

 

Conclusion

• Interpretation of the findings of the investigation linked to the aim/focus of the investigation.

 

References

• A list of all sources used (paper and web-based).

 

Appendices

• Clean copies of the collected data.

• Evidence to support quantitative approaches.

 

Original writing

Students will produce one piece of original writing based on one of the following three areas:

• the power of persuasion

• the power of storytelling

• the power of information

and one accompanying commentary.

 

In preparation for the writing, students will study a range of style models before selecting and analyzing one style model in detail. Students will select their own style model in consultation with their supervising teacher. Students will then use this research to inform their own piece of original writing.

 

The commentary will allow the student to consider and evaluate the style model, the writing process and the effectiveness of the final piece of writing.

 

The folder submitted should contain:

• a piece of original writing

• an annotated style model

• a reflective commentary

• references (paper and web-based).

 

Examples of pieces of writing students could consider.

The power of persuasion

• A piece of investigative journalism.

• A speech delivered on a controversial topic.

• A letter to an MP.

 

The power of storytelling

• A short story.

• An extract from a biography.

• A dramatic monologue.

 

The power of information

• A piece of travel journalism.

• A blog focusing on social issues.

• A piece of local history

 

What's assessed

• Language investigation

• Original writing

• Methods of language analysis are integrated into the activities

 

Assessed

• word count: 3,500

• 100 marks

• 20% of A-level

• assessed by teachers

• moderated by AQA

 

Tasks Students produce:

• a language investigation (2,000 words excluding data)

• a piece of original writing and commentary (1,500 words total)

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