This very popular course is ideal for those students who enjoyed GCSE English Language and want to find out more about how language works. It appeals to students who are both analytical and creative in their own thinking and writing.
Although A Level English Language builds upon those skills already acquired, this subject is quite different from GCSE and is more of an introductory course to the University academic discipline called ‘linguistics’ (the science of language). The course will build upon GCSE success, but it will not be assumed that students are experts. English Language links well with many other A Level courses, for example, Psychology, Sociology, History, Media Studies, Creative Writing and Law.
All students will be embarking upon a two year study of English Language with all written examinations and coursework being completed at the end of the second year.
In analysing how language works, students will be introduced to the language levels in the form of the keys of language: lexis, semantics, morphology, word classes, grammar, phonology (including phonetics), spoken language, processes of language change and pragmatics.These keys of language will be relevant to all units.
The following linguistic skills and knowledge will be covered for the A Level units:
Component 1: Language Concepts and Issues – 2 hour written exam (30%)
Students will analyse spoken language transcripts from a wide variety of contexts, for example, the media and domestic situations.They will also be working on the following language issues essay topics: Standard and non-standard English; language and power; language and situation and child language acquisition. This component will be studied during the 1st year of the course and revised in the 2nd year.
Component 2: Language Change Over Time – 2¼ hours written exam (30%)
Students will analyse a wide variety of written texts (newspaper reporting, recipes, love letters, etc) covering a period of 500 years from 1500-2000. They will also be studying written language data from the 21st century, for example text messages and chat room language. This component will be studied during the 2nd year of the course.
Component 3: Creative and Critical Use of Language – 1¾ hours (20%)
Students will have the opportunity of being creative in writing both literary and non-literary texts with an analytical commentary recording your decisions. This component will be studied in both years of the course.
Component 4: Language and Identity coursework (20%)
Students will be collecting data from a range of spoken, written and multi-modal texts. They will be choosing from one of the following areas: language and self-representation; language and gender; language and culture and language diversity.
The A Level will consist of 80% written examination and 20% internally assessed coursework.
How the course is delivered
Students will have four x 70 minute lessons per week. We employ a variety of teaching and learning methods, including quizzes, games and puzzles to reinforce the learning of linguistic knowledge. Students will be given the opportunity of one-to-one support in respect of coursework activities.
The Department prides itself on organising enrichment opportunities as and when they arise. In the past, we have organised trips to the Emagazine A Level English Language Conference in London with eminent linguists like Professor David Crystal and Professor Deborah Cameron providing stretching and challenging guest lectures.
What can I do now that would help prepare me for this course?
Read, read, read. Collect any written texts you can get your hands on: newspaper articles, magazine problem pages, film/holiday/book reviews, text messages, children’s stories (look for any Mr Men or Little Miss books), blog pages, interviews with celebrities in newspapers, magazines and advertisements.
Keep these texts in a file and these will be used during your A Level course to help you to get to grips with all the language (linguistic) terminology you will learn and apply. Take the opportunity to read some short stories as well, given that your first piece of coursework is where you can be creative in producing your own short story or dramatic monologue.
Think about the intended audience (who will read the text?), the main purpose and any secondary purposes (inform, entertain, argue, persuade, etc) and also think about the nature of the vocabulary used and sentence lengths.
During Wyke Start (two introductory lessons to English Language), you will be exploring spoken language in a media context. Most of you will have been introduced to this topic at GCSE. Watch and listen to a variety of media texts, for example, reality TV shows, TV and radio interviews with celebrities, soap opera and film scenes. Think about the language used by speakers in dialogue and how successful are they are in interacting with other people.
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