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Aqa english language a subject content unit 2 unit and. The department of english at the university of particular, they should examine. As an example, for upcoming exam ish preparation we looked at the June 17 paper, featuring the article from the Metro on athlete Veronica Campbell Brown. Spoiler warning ahead. The first thing I asked the students to do was to read the text and simply list all of the representations they can find in the text.
For the students who struggle to generate ideas to discuss in the questions I find this is extremely valuable as it gives them something to aim for. They listed Veronica Capbell Brown as the most obvious person represented, but from there I encouraged them to consider who else or what else was being represented through her.
Especially with celebrities and the world of sport, people see themselves reflected back in those they look up to or hold in high esteem. They were then able to say:. And just as the students wearing their uniforms outside of school represent our institution I ask them to consider how the individual might represent organisations or institutions.
This led to:. And then through polarisation present in the article, and again similar to Mr McVeigh, they were able to identify:. So to cap it all off:. This really gives the students a solid base camp with a variety of routes to follow. And it is something every student of every ability can do in an exam context. Naturally, those aiming for the highest bands will be more able to discuss the wider implications of the representations on display.
They will even be able to spot patterns of wider discourse, which is really going to help them with AO3. More on that later. While those at the lower end will all be able to explore the representation of the individual named in the text, often the most obvious, yet still, the most salient of all listed above. This is where the interactive whiteboard comes in handy because we now organise that list into a hierarchy see images below.
We decide on this together based on the text in front of us. I ask them is the representation of Veronica Campbell Brown more salient than the representation of black people or women in general? We decide yes. Before developing that, I first ask them if this seems more openly critical of black people or of women? For simplicity, does it seem more racist or sexist? That is not to say it is neither, arguably these prejudices exist between the lines because they feed into the wider social discourses, which are still present in our society.
They decide that for a number of reasons, the representation of women seems salient. The final order is listed above in the images of my board. Her image in this article rests on the patterns of how women, black people, athletics etc are represented in our wider culture. Before moving on to discussing how these representations were being established through language, I emphasised with students that once they had organised them in order of salience they could choose any three to focus on in their answer.
Again this is crucial in eliciting a response from every student which is personal and potentially different. The lower ability students may want to focus on the top three whereas those aiming for the highest marks may want to start at the top and pull in something less obvious and perhaps more perceptive. As this article is more about an approach to the questions, I will focus less on this part. But it is here where we start to come up with statements about how these people and institutions are being represented.
Again, nothing too linguistic at this stage. Simply what seems to be jumping out? These can be seen in red in the image, but they decided VCB was being represented negatively as either a heartless cheat or as an incompetent woman who did not seem deserving of her accolades. As mentioned above it was very easy for them to now suggest that women are often ridiculed in our wider culture as a way to downplay their achievements.
Some discussed, away from the world of sport, the ongoing, relentless and hateful treatment of Mary Beard here. It is only now we get to frameworks. They have a solid route and the terrain looks easier for them to negotiate.
If you want a more detailed approach for this stage, I recommend this one. With these representations and meanings in mind we explored that second paragraph in more detail:. Well it must be to emphasise that what follows is bigger than all of those achievements just listed. We re-wrote this sentence in a variety of ways and decided the fronted adverbial was loaded with meaning, which supported what they had already said about the representations.
I call these the macro concepts of linguistic analysis. The micro elements come from the areas of the frameworks or language levels and should always be used to comment on the macro concepts. We now make decisions about these macro concepts and the impact they have had in the writing of the text. Did Will Giles set out to destroy this athlete because she is a woman or is this an unfortunate consequence of something else from GCAP?
Starting with the macro concept of Context of production, we looked at the date , and the patterns of language which seemed to focus on British athletics and came up with the idea that there may have been a renewed interest in the sport in this country as a result of the Olympics. This focus on nationalism and tribal loyalties to Team GB goes some way to underpinning what The Metro might have been trying to do in this article through these representations. They have perhaps tried to position us against this Jamaican athlete to drum up tribal support for our team, but have used conventional negative representations of women to do it.
We also discussed the impact of The Metro and its tabloid style in the informal register adopted in our example. This layering of meaning according to GCAP is going to unlock a variety of interpretations of features and patterns that will allow the students to score highly in AO3. As with subject terminology for AO1, points about genre, context, audience and purpose are only as valuable as the argument you pin them to.
So just because we come to the macro concepts of GCAP last in this strategy does not make it an afterthought. Quite the opposite in fact. An understanding of the construction of a given text from the perspective of GCAP is part of the foundation to understanding the representations in the first place.
I think that the macro concepts should be something outlined and discussed in introductions as part of the foundation on which the students can build. So putting all of the above together a successful intro to a Question 1, with this text as a basis, may look like:.
In Text A, The Metro and writer Will Giles, offer a stereotypically negative representation of women, through Veronica Campbell Brown, as a means of generating national support for British Athletics in the wake of the Olympics. At various points Campbell Brown is represented as foolish and dull-witted, someone undeserving of her previous achievements and at worst, a dishonest cheat.
Giles adopts a classically tabloid style to create these meanings, potentially for click-bait in an online format or to entertain a tribal sports fan on their daily commute. This is slightly wordy, but you get the picture. This intro condenses everything into one paragraph, which covers three strands of representation and their link to audience, genre and two contextual factors. Hopefully this has given you some ideas about how to approach the Paper One mountain with students, particularly mixed ability students.
Well done for reaching the summit! I posted links to news stories about language and short activities linked to what we did in class and we used the blog as a way of keeping up to date with what was being discussed in our subject. The blog started in the days before Twitter appeared, so since then, a lot of the short links to news stories have appeared there on the EngLangBlog account instead and the posts here have become a bit more sporadic but also a bit longer and with different audiences in mind.
Many of them are still aimed at students but a few of the newer ones are now aimed at teachers too. So, if you're new to teaching A level English Language - or just interested in what other teachers do - you might find a few of those teacher blogs handy to have in one place. Not all of them were necessarily aimed at teachers to start with, so if you're a student you might find them handy too.
If you're a teacher and you've exhausted all the previous papers from AQA and are yourself just a bit exhausted after the I won't claim any great originality for these as they have all appeared in some form or other in different places - either in textbooks or resources I've worked on - but some of them are in a slightly new form, so they might prove useful. Anyway, here's a possible pair of Paper 1 texts for Questions , based on school rules.
I've also done a mark scheme for this which you can find here. She says, 'I've been teaching for over 25 years and have learned so much from colleagues over the years; now it's a genuine pleasure to help others where I can'. Thanks for a great post. It is not that that skills are different, or that the texts are difficult — it is that there are so many balls to keep in the air at once.
What I have outlined here is a way to teach students. Slow them down — make your students take the time to read. Observing my students when faced with an article has taught me that they want to start annotating straight away. Out come the highlighters and the coloured pens and away they go. The trouble is, they are frequently highlighting features without having understood the articles properly. Tell them to put down the pens and just read. Then write down three things about each source:.
Get them to write these questions in large letters somewhere prominent and to keep them front and centre as they look at the texts. Top tip — if there is a shorter article, look at it first and compare the longer one to it rather than the other way around. Simply, the shorter article will have fewer things to spot that the longer one.
Encourage your students to be precise about this. The articles will be about language change or language varieties and they will have encountered the debates and discourses in lessons and in their wider reading. Make this the first sentence of the answer and you are on to a winner from the start. Be careful though, of having a reductive list of discourses.
On the paper, the two text are printed so that they can be placed side by side. This is so that from the very start, students can do just that and see them as a data set. Now to ask the next question — what else links these two sources that might be relevant? Do they use the same language? Are the writers, the contexts, or the attitudes similar? Are there any patterns across the two texts in the language or structures that are immediately obvious? In my classroom we like to look for figurative language, rhetorical devices and code-switching on a first pass.
Compare the way the writers represent themselves. Start with the by-line. In an opinionated editorial op. A journalist will often distance themselves somewhat from the opinions by using quotation or paraphrasing an authority on the subject. However, there is no such thing as an unbiased writer.
It is often interesting to compare the ways that writers shape and frame arguments by selection. Analyse the representation of ideas and opinions. Analyse the different ways that writers represent the opinions of others. What assumptions are made about the knowledge and interests of the reader?
What is simplified, glossed or exemplified? What use is made of metaphor or cultural references? Are the ideas being presented new or established? What sorts of sentences are being used — simple or complex? Is the tone personal or impersonal? Is the register formal or informal…. Top tip — teach them to look at co-text as well as context.
If you pick out a word or short phrase, then look at what comes right before and right after it and how that changes things. How have the two writers shaped their presentations of the issue for the audience? Remind your students that most people do not choose their reading material because it challenges their ideas and opinions — quite the opposite.
I read the newspaper that most accords with my world view. And advertisements do not make you want to buy aftershave — they suggest that THIS aftershave might the one for people like you…. There is not much room for the reader to LIKE uptalk in that sentence — it assumes that the readers do not like uptalk and are quite ready to dislike whatever new vocal tic they are exposed to. Finally, make a choice about what to write about.
If your students have spent the best part of a double lesson looking at the texts in depth, then they have far too much to say. Now comes the distillation process — what is most significant and interesting about the way these two writers have engaged with this linguistic topic and shaped their texts for their audiences? In this new guest blog, Donal Hale takes a look at how he and his students deal with both the content and linguistic register needed for good 'Evaluate the idea Especially without a data set to draw from like in Child Language Development.
So, how can we support students in a happy marriage of AO1 and AO2? Perhaps a specific example might be useful to illustrate some hints and tips, so I will use the following question as the basis of my approaches to this section of the exam:. My first tip, which albeit may appear to be a very simple one, is to evaluate the proposed viewpoint very concisely, in a single sentence, before students zoom off and bring in the concepts and references AO2 for their line of argument — in essence, ensuring they guide the reader in their development of an argument for AO1.
For the question above, I may offer the following as an example of how they do this and ask them to reflect on how this aligns with their own views:. I maintain that language change is a neutral process, rather than a process of slow decay, that neither indicates evolution or deterioration.
We then spend time unpicking what argument is being put forward here, and shaping their own argument around this whether they agree or disagree! The next step concerns exemplification of this key line of argument i. For example:. Students use this to then explore their class notes, and select what is most relevant in supporting them to answer this question — this, in essence, formulates their planning of their responses.
This is fine, for now, I say, before I present this introduction that expands upon our singular sentence evaluation from earlier which I underline below :. The English language is an entity that is continuously changing, and the notion that this process is one of decay is not new to discussions among linguists. Aitchison has categorised these prescriptivist views into three categories: the damp spoon syndrome, the crumbling castle view, and the infectious disease assumption. The crumbling castle view resonates most closely with the idea that language is decaying slowly, comparing English to a beautiful old building that is collapsing.
Conversely, descriptivists may argue that language is evolving, and that changes only enrich it. However compelling either argument may seem, I maintain that language change is a neutral process, rather than a process of slow decay, that neither indicates evolution or deterioration.
I use this model for this question, which I explain will be a main body paragraph within the whole essay response:. Moreover, a change that is occurring within the vocabulary of the English language is the use of portmanteau. This term has emerged as a neologism in recent years, after first being coined by Peter Wilding in a blog post The crumbling castle view dictates that portmanteaus indicate laziness, as they shorten a concept to make it easier to say.
Therefore, language change can be seen as catalyst of social change, rather than a sign of languor. We unpick this model and consider not merely what aspects of linguistic register the paragraph covers, but more importantly, how it connects and reinforces the AO2 ideas. Students pick out the moments they feel this occurs and we examine the relationship in greater detail. This helps sharpen their focus ensuring the fluency of their argument is inextricably linked to a linguistic register, rather than examining ideas as a psychologist or sociologist might do.
As you would expect, students then use the model as a style model to create their own paragraph that marries these two elements effectively. Before they submit this for feedback, I ask them to underline where the relationship occurs in their writing, and I focus my feedback on how happy the marriage is! Whilst deceptively simple, some might say, I have always found this highly effective. Indeed, as teachers this is fundamentally how we ensure learning takes place — making complex cognitive process seem simple and manageable to allow students to write essays with success.
As a Linguistics graduate, I loved the part of my studies where you started to acknowledge language around us. I could no longer sit at a train station people watching. I was consumed by the way that words encapsulate our everyday lives, connect with us on so many levels and shape our thoughts and attitudes.
To me, Meanings and Representations is the aspect of A Level English Language that helps students to see the power of words; the careful construction of texts and the ability to influence society. Within this short blog post, I am going to outline some of the approaches to single text analysis of the construction of Meanings and Representations that I have found useful over the past few years.
When I first begin teaching Meanings and Representations, towards the start of their A Level journey, I try to encourage students to reflect on the construction of texts. Simply by making judgements on the way that a range of different texts impact and influence the students, we start to explore the connection between our attitudes towards a text and the language used to convey that.
The main aspect of the single text question is to understand what is meant by Meanings and Representations. Introducing this terminology is essential as I ask students to ensure they use both words within their written responses to clearly demonstrate to an examiner that they are reflecting the assessment expectations. Students then need to understand language frameworks and levels. This aspect of Meanings and Representations is the most complex aspect of this question: students often feel overwhelmed with the precision of terminology required to reach the top band in their answers.
This gives them an understanding of some of the expectations needed when analysing texts and also gives me an indication of support needed. Graphology, as a language level, tends to be something that students fall back on as a support. Although, I stress its importance, I encourage students to apply more grammatical and pragmatic comments to their essays to try to show a greater control over their analysis.
Recently, I taught a lesson on clause types. We spent the whole lesson trying to familiarise ourselves with the way that different clause types are used within journalism. Once students have grasped language level analysis this is by no means something that happens overnight!
I begin to teach the construction of analytical paragraphs. Often, I have to do a layered approach to language levels, building confidence throughout the units we study in Year 12, connecting meanings and representations-style texts to language discourses.
Prior to annotation and beginning the writing process, I ask students to contextualise the text by identifying the purpose, audience and form of a text PAF. I then ask students to have this as their introduction to a Meanings and Representations question. This helps to strengthen the overall structure of writing. My approach to Question One and Two for Meanings and Representations has been refined over the past few years of teaching. I like students to identify at least three representations.
I normally say that the author is always represented within a text so that is always a good starting point. I then say to focus on layers within the issue being discussed in the text. Originally, I used to ask students to take a language level per paragraph but felt that, by fronting representations, students had a tighter control over their overall structure and were able to be more precise with their language level analysis.
I also encourage students to apply a range of language levels throughout. As mentioned previously, I place emphasis on inclusions of grammatical and pragmatic references but also encourage lexis and semantics for students who may not feel as confident applying more grammatical terms.
Having applied language levels to support the representation, students need to mention audience positioning. This is where they can connect the representation to the meaning. This then builds the deeper analytical points needed to hit the top band answers. Audience positioning is also something that is frequently written in the AQA mark scheme so I try to encourage this phrasing being written alongside representations and meanings.
The last component of the paragraphs needed is to contextualise their exploration and connect back to the PAF stated previously. When exploring the older text, students can reflect on society at the time, similarly with the more modern texts, students can reflect on more pragmatic viewpoints that help to justify the meanings established.
My students have found the methods logical and apply these to essays and show a willingness to apply more complex linguistic features. I only hope that the next time they are sat at a train station, they too can no longer people watch! If you wish to find out anymore from this strategy, please do have a look at the Teacher Guidance Pack shared on my Twitter account which provides an example paragraph to support.
Asynchronous video platforms such as Flipgrid are perfect for building and sustaining community as they are not bound by a class period time or physical space. Because of that we all had time to share and get to know each other more deeply.