Saturday, May 12, 2007

Exams, exams, exams

The exams are approaching, but I’m not going to do loads of revision posts as in years before: not because I can’t be bothered, but because you can just click on the links to the other posts here and the advice remains the same.

Here are some little extra bits that might help you though, along with my top tips with what I think could appear (last year I was completely wrong about these, so whatever…):


Remember that question 1 is all about a mix of engaging with what the text is all about and how it represents its subject (be that a person being described like the Shaun Wallace text last year, a person being interviewed like the Peter Fox text of 2005, or a job/idea/product) and labelling word classes. We’ve done nearly all we can on this in class, so what you can now do yourselves is practise past papers (available as hard copies in the LRC, or via the AQA website linked off the side bar) and make a point of reading a few broadsheet style articles. You can revise word classes by using the Internet Grammar of English site here. But remember, you mustn’t go too far with grammar on this unit: you don’t need to cover clauses or sentence types (simple, compound, complex), but you must look for sentence functions, tense & aspect, active/passive voice and those lovely word classes.

My top tip for the type of text this time is a piece of instructional or advice writing. If I’m right I will award myself a packet of Haribos.

The essay questions should be very familiar to you by now, but remember to use the feedback sheets I’ve done for you and which are available on the w drive in college or from Teachit as pdfs here and here. Also, there is loads of stuff about CLA available from the ENA1 revision tips post last year, while for Language & Representation, I like this site. I also like this site, but that’s another story…


All the advice I can give on this comes from Beth Kemp’s rather splendid A Level site here so just go here and visit it.

All I’d add is that we’ve covered Deborah Cameron’s recent material on social constructionist theories of male female conversation for a reason, so make sure you use it, if you can find room for it in the gender essay question.

My top tip for the type of transcript this time is an extract of someone telling a story and the listeners’ interaction with the storyteller. If I’m right I will award myself another packet of Haribos. And a bottle of wine.


Once again, we’ve done loads on this in class and you have a mini-text analysis along with a copy of the mark scheme to help you revise. You’ve done 5-6 textual analysis past papers since November (more if you’re Angelica, Sherelle or Romaine!) but there are a couple more in the LRC that you might not have done. My tips for revising this are to use the brilliant British Library Texts in Context site here to take a tour of writing 1600 – 1945 and sample various genres such as recipes and travel writing, before looking at this bit of the site for a wider view on language change and the BBC Voices site for more on varieties and change.

For the essay questions, Raj has given you powerpoints on how to write essays on Varieties and I’ve done the same for Change. Check the w drive next week and we’ll make sure we’ve saved them all there for you.

My top tip for the type of text in the texts from different times is an example of a recipe. If I’m right I will award myself another packet of Haribos. And another bottle of wine. Hic!


The daddy of all exam papers and one that should suit the creative writers of you out there (hello Kwame) as well as the analysis heads too (bonjour Evelyn, Delphine and Joss).

We’ve spent a lot of time looking at the individual questions but maybe not quite as much time as I would have liked on actually writing the 2a answers, so there’s your top tip – do some writing for different audiences. My advice to some of you has been to use the blog and particularly the links to broadsheet articles about language issues such as attitudes to change, punctuation and accents, and to get hold of e magazine from the LRC (or the e mag website – see me to get the password). Look at the ways in which sometimes rather dry language topics can be injected with a bit of humour and accessibility.

My top tip for the topic on this paper this year is a hedged bet: either it’ll be language change and attitudes to it (prescriptivist/descriptivist debates) or recent accents and dialects (MEYD/MLE etc.). If I’m right I will award myself yet another packet of Haribos. And another bottle of wine. And a spell in rehab.

Good luck, anyway. Please post comments to the blog if you want help. I’m happy to take emails but it might be more useful to all students if you post any ideas, worries or questions here so everyone can chip in.


Anonymous said...

Hi Sir,

I was wondering if you do know what the topic question in January 2007.

Dan said...

There wasn't one - it only gets set in June now. Last summer was m/f convo and year before was CLA.

Anonymous said...

do you think its likely to be a newspaper article, radio script or editorial in section B this year? And is the editorial just like writing an essay only it would be effectively published?

Anonymous said...


I haven't revised yet, and I don't have much time left. What is the best effective way to revise?

Dan said...

You're having a laugh. Best, effective way to revise is start earlier than the day before the exam.

All I can suggest is get familiar with the paper through the link on the top tips for AS and A2 post, mug up on grammar frameworks on the internet grammar of english site then cross your fingers and pray.

Anonymous said...

I mean only for the synoptic paper. That's my last exam and don't know whether to cram all the topics or may be focus on language change/variation?

M.T said...

hey thanks for all the help.
I was just doing some past papers for ENA5 and i noticed the texts usually have long and complex sentences. Even for the recipes.
I was wondering why that is? and why has it changed.
Thanks in advance.

Dan said...

Hi M.T

Thanks, hope it's helping you revise.

I'm not sure I can really answer that question as I don't really know. I suppose the thing is that older texts tend to have longer, more complex sentences because that was just the style people were used to. They tended to embed clauses a lot more in Early Modern English - in other words, use more subordinating conjunctions to create structures like relative clauses and adverbial clauses - maybe because the audience was an educated elite, assumed to be highly educated and literate, with plenty of time to read each text.

These days, the vast majority of the population can read and write but the mass audience isn't quite as used to longer, complex sentences.

Hope that helps: I'll ask a few other teachers for what they think and post their answers back (if I get any).

M.T said...

Thanks Dan that really did help, and Ok I'll keep on checking your blog for updates.
oh and just one more quick question again for the ENA5 part A section.
So we have to comment on orthography changes over time, but also keeping closely to the question. Say for example if the text was advising..
What would b a clever way to incorporate the historical side.
Would i just say for eg.
"this imperative is used to advise etc etc.. and it is also worth noting the orthography etc etc?
Even though the orthography has nothing to do with advising?

Dan said...

Something like you've suggested sounds ok. It might be worth having a paragraph somewhere in your answer where you put in all the language change stuff that you can't fit in anywhere else, or that doesn't seem connected to meaning,like orthography and graphology. It's also worth remembering that it's not worth many marks unless you link it to the time period somehow (like the "qu" spellings instead of "wh" in some EME texts is linked to the influence of Norman French spelling, or how "to-day" used to compounded or hyphenated and now we just see it as one word.

Dan said...

Here's what the helpful people on The English Language List said about longer sentences in older texts:

Sue: "At all times, writers have used long sentences, but before the late 15th century, the lengthy sentences were more frequently compound, and after that, more often complex, specifically using a wide range of relative pronouns...Most historians of the language agree that literacy
was less widespread before the introduction of printing, but sentence complexity seems to intensify after printing becomes common. Personally, I've always assumed that it was the influence of Latin. Not that Latin was any more studied in the 16th to 18th centuries than in the Middle Ages, but the Renaissance gradually meant that scholars, rather
than writing in Latin as a natural thing, their second language,
consciously started imitating Roman writers like Cicero and Seneca, and that period of Roman literature abounded in massive periods with huge numbers of relative (and personal) pronouns. Complex sentences in Latin, a
language so much more inflected than English, are much easier to follow & a word like "who" in English has a dozen different
inflections in Latin, by which one can determine the person, number and case of the referent. Hence the preponderance of complex sentences for the next couple of hundred years: the linguistic equivalent of classical architecture, music and art (though those arrived at different
points chronologically, of course).

Mike: "Latin was so highly-regarded, its grammar was what Grammar Schools were set up to teach, and indeed a number of 16th to 18th century writers say English had no grammar at all, and so when people started to use
English for serious matters, the trend was to follow the style as well as the syntactic structures of the written Latin of the 1st century 'golden age'."

How's that for detail?

M.T said...

thankkks alloot very detailed