Curriculum Leader

Mrs F Marshall

Awarding Body

AQA Course Specification

Entry Requirements

Level 5 or above in English Language and Level 5 or above in English Literature at GCSE.

Why choose English Language?

Would you enjoy the challenge of studying technical aspects of English not covered at GCSE? Are you interested in learning about the structure of language, including grammar, and looking at a wide range of spoken and written language? Would you enjoy learning to write in different creative and journalistic styles and finding out how language use is affected by gender, occupational relationships, power and ethnicity? Would you enjoy considering attitudes to accents, formal language and slang, discovering how children learn language, and how language changes over time?

If so, English Language is a fascinating choice of course.

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What will I learn in Year 12 and how will it be assessed?

Paper One: Language, the Individual and Society

Section A - Textual Variations and Representations: Three questions; the first two require analysis of individual texts, the third is a comparison of the two texts.

The aim of this unit is to introduce students to language study, exploring textual variety. You will explore concepts of audience, purpose, genre, mode and representation. Areas of language study include phonetics (speech sounds), graphology (visual aspects of textual design), lexis and semantics (vocabulary), grammar, and pragmatics (contextual aspects of language use).

Paper Two: Language Diversity and Change 

You will study texts using different sociolects and dialects, written, spoken and electronic texts, research findings, and collections of language data. You will also explore how language varies due to personal/ social/ geographical contexts, how identity is constructed, how language is used to enact relationships, and attitudes to language diversity.

The units of study covered in Y12 represent approximately 50% of the A Level course. At the end of Y12 there will be internal end of year exams testing a range of taught concepts, theories and ideas, as well as your application of linguistic terminology. Each unit will be revisited and extended throughout your second year of study.

This is a new specification subject. The school’s policy is that students enrolling onto new specification courses will not be entered for external AS examinations at the end of Year 12. Please visit the FAQs for more information on new specifications, their UCAS tariff points and the ‘decoupling’ of AS/A2 grades.

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What will I learn in Year 13 English Language and how will it be assessed?

Paper One: Language, the Individual and Society
40% of A Level

Section A - Textual Variations and Representations: Three questions; the first two require analysis of individual texts, the third is a comparison of the two texts.

Section B - Children’s Language Development: A discursive essay on children’s language development, with a choice of two questions.

Textual Variations and Representations will cover the same material as the Y12 course of study. In Children’s Language Development, you will study the functions of children’s language, phonological, pragmatic, lexical, semantic and grammatical development, different genres of speech and writing, different modes of communication, and theories about language development.

Paper Two: Language Diversity and Change
40% of A Level

Section A - Diversity and Change: Either an evaluative essay on language diversity, or an evaluative essay on language change.

Section B - Language Discourses: A question requiring analysis of how two texts use language to present ideas, attitudes and opinions, and a directed writing task linked to the same topic and the ideas in the texts.

Language Diversity and Change will explore texts using different sociolects and dialects, texts from different periods, from 1600 to the present day, written, spoken and electronic texts, items from collections of language data, and research findings. In Language Discourses you will explore how texts represent language, construct an identity, and position and influence the reader.

Non-exam assessment: Language in Action
20% of A Level

3500 word coursework portfolio, consisting of a language investigation (2000 words) and a piece of original writing and commentary (1500 words).

This coursework portfolio will allow you to explore and analyse language data independently and develop and reflect upon your own writing expertise. You have the freedom to choose an area of individual interest, for example: gendered talk, children’s language use, or the language of the media. Your original writing will be based around the themes of persuasion, storytelling or the power of information.

This is a ‘new specification’ subject. The overall result for each student completing this course to full A level standard will be based on the final Year 13 A level examinations only. Please visit the FAQs for more information on new specifications, their UCAS tariff points and their ‘decoupling’ of AS/A2 grades.

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How will I learn?

You will learn through opportunities to:

  • analyse and discuss a wide range of both written and spoken texts
  • apply key linguistic terminology to a variety of text types
  • explore ‘styles models’ of writing for a variety of audiences and purposes and produce your own examples
  • develop research skills in investigating an aspect of language that interests you.
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Students wishing to go on to study English at university may find it valuable to take both English Language and English Literature as separate subjects, though English Language alone will be appropriate preparation for linguistics or media based courses, and some general English degrees.

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In common with all non-vocational A Levels, English Language is suitable academic preparation for a wide variety of careers, particularly those in which effective written communication is important. Publishing, marketing, journalism, teaching, law, information services and creative writing are all careers possible with strong grades in English Language.

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Further Course Information

The coursework component of this course requires a great deal of initiative, creativity and independent study, and there are also a lot of new terms and concepts that need to be learned at an early stage and used throughout the course. Wider reading of newspapers, journals, web pages and academic articles will also be required.

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