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Est. 1921

English Language

Course Details

Exam Board and specification code:


Course Co-ordinator:

Mrs Watson

Video Introduction:

What is this course about?

English Language A-level is very different to GCSE. At A-level, you will study language is a wide range of contexts and genres and learn how it can be used to represent, influence, create identities, include, exclude and exert power.

Some elements of the course are quite technical; you will look at how texts are structured grammatically and how this contributes to meaning. You will learn to describe linguistically children’s language and writing at different stages of acquisition.

Other elements of the course are more sociological; you will explore the reasons why many people use non-standard English. For example, you will look at why regional accents are neutralising in many places in Britain but are strengthening in Liverpool and Hull. You will consider why black young people in London switched their cockney accents for Black British English, an accent influenced by Jamaican Patois.

You will also learn to write creatively. You will explore different genres of creative writing, as well as learn to write in a way that informs and entertains.

This is a list of the topics we study:

  • Meanings and Representations (Text Analysis)
  • Child Language Acquisition (Spoken and Literacy)
  • Language and Gender
  • Language and Occupation
  • Language and Region
  • Language and Social Groups
  • Language and Ethnicity
  • World Englishes
  • Language Change
  • Language Discourses
  • Researching Language
  • Original Writing

Course Content

Paper 1: Language, the Individual and Society

2hrs 30min examination, 100 marks, worth 40%.

Section A – Meanings and Representations

You will be given two texts and be required to write a short essay analysing how language is used to create representations. You will then write a short comparative essay comparing how the texts use language to create representations.

Section B – Child Language Acquisition

You will have the choice between answering a question about children’s spoken or written language. You will be given a piece of data – a transcript or a piece of children’s writing – and be asked to write an essay evaluating a given view with reference to the data.

Paper 2: Language Diversity and Change

2hrs 30min examination, 100 marks, worth 40%.

Section A

You will be given a choice between two essay questions: one on language change, one on language diversity.

Section B

You will be given two texts, for example newspaper articles, and be asked to write an essay comparing how they use language to represent a view point about language.

You will then be asked to write your own informative but accessible and entertaining opinion article on a linguistic topic.

Non-exam assessment: Language in Action Language Investigation

3,500 word, worth 20% of the overall grade.

  • Language Investigation - you will complete a language investigation into a topic of your choice (2,000 words excluding data)
  • Original Writing - you will produce one piece of original writing based on the power of storytelling and one accompanying commentary.

What might this course lead on to?

  • Further academic study into linguistics
  • Journalism / writing
  • Law
  • Advertising
  • Communications
  • Speech therapy
  • Forensic linguistics
  • It compliments any essay-based degrees

Entry Requirements:

Grade 4 in GCSE English Language.