Tuesday, June 22, 2010

ENGA3 exam - good luck

ENGA3 is coming up as you already know, so good luck with it. It's a tough paper and it's really important to know exactly which skills to use on which part of it, so think carefully about how you plan your answers.

The January paper had the following questions:

A quick look at Question 1 should tell you that it's a language change question , but not one of the "old texts" ones that could crop up on Thursday. Here you're being asked to do different things in different bullet points. The first bullet point is about analysing the texts linguistically (identifying and discussing the effects of  language features such as nouns, verbs, tense, sentence types, functions, clause structures etc.) and the second bullet point is much more to do with explaining what you know about language change and how the examples in the texts given to you are part of this (or not). The second bullet point is much more like an essay on language change where you can show your understanding of key theories, major processes of change and what you think of it all.

Question 2 is a language variation one, and you have to be really careful to read the question! On question 1 you were asked to analyse both texts in the first bullet point but on this question you were only asked to analyse the first text. It might not be the same this summer, so read the question carefully. For this question you were being asked to do much the same as you were in question 1 but with a focus on language variation (dialect etc.) rather than change. The other key thing is to think not just about the features of the extract (its non-standard grammar, lexis etc.) but also the views the guy is putting forward - what he means and how he conveys his ideas. The second bullet point is then asking you to do a more essay based answer on the different attitudes towards regional dialects and accents.

Question 3 is very different and you need to have a clear sense of how it's different. Whereas you had a choice of answering either 1 or 2, you get no choice here and anything from A2 could turn up - regional variety, language change, male female variation, age-related variation, social groups and language use, even world Englishes. You have to have covered all the bases just in case (or be very lucky).

The texts you are given for question 3 will be aimed at a non-specialist audience: they're not written for linguistic experts but the general public, so they will often over-simplify, misrepresent or just rant about a language issue. You're being asked on question 3 for your expert opinions as A level Language students (OK...I know...) on what these writers have said. You must pull what they say apart linguistically (breaking down word choices, sentence choices, clause structures just like you did on the first part of the paper) and then evaluate what they have said in the light of what you and others know about the issue. It's supposed to encourage you to put your own ideas forward and take part in a debate about language, so don't be afraid to offer your own views or those of other relevant experts. The topics are usually chosen to give you something to talk about, not to catch you out.

So, in the case of the January paper, the two texts present men and women as homogenous groups. Men pretty much always do this and women pretty much always do that. But that's not right, is it? Most linguistic research (and especially the most recent work by people like Deborah Cameron) suggests that while differences may occur between men and women, there are also huge differences between men and men and women and women. Gender is only one factor in a range of other ones and to claim it's all biologically determined is a load of cobblers. There are many other approaches to take too and these will depend on the topic you're given:

Texting is destroying language! No it isn't.
Political correctness is changing language for the worse! Err, no...
English is the language of the world! Kind of...but think about this too

Anyway, if you have any questions, add them as comments and I'll try to help you (unless it's between 3pm and 5pm tomorrow in which case I will probably be weeping into a can of Stella).

 My top tips for Thursday (blind guesswork only, it has to be said):
Question 1: two texts from different times to compare and a discussion about language change over time
Question 2: gender related variation with some data
Question 3: texting and how it's destroying our language.


Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this blog, it has really boosted my confidence for Thursday!

Anonymous said...


Dan said...

Thanks for the thanks :-)

My predictions for the old spec's ENA6 weren't bad last year or the year before, but beware: I also predicted that France would win the World Cup and that no one would be stupid enough to vote for a Tory government.

Anonymous said...

Hi sir Gerald here! just wanted to know if you have any theories or studies that have been done on occupational variation!

Anonymous said...

Maybe u could bring in Michael Halliday's theory of anti-language amongst specific occupations/ hobbies such as computer hacking?

Anonymous said...

A world english discourse question would k i l l me .. theres only so much you can say ! :(

Dan said...

Hi Gerald, I miss you :-( Are you looking after the rest of the class? Say hi to Josh and Michael.

There's some stuff on occupational variation in the text book (sailor talk, I think) but do a quick search in the blog search bar for "office speak", "office jargon" and "management speak" and you'll find some good articles.

For theory, I'd probably have a look at the concept of "communities of practice" in the text book and on the blog.

Hope that helps. Stay tall.

Dan said...

@ anon for Halliday thing. I've not come across that before (that i can remember), but it sounds good!

Dan said...

@anon for World English discourses question - that's true but there's a pretty big debate emerging about whether we should be thinking about English as a world language (with English English as the gold standard) or different Englishes with their own characteristics and increasing validity.

Try checking the "Globish" posts on the blog.

Anonymous said...

thanks alot! anon! and Sir We all truly miss your wisdom and your love for MJ...thanks alot! I'll look in it !

Dan said...

Argh, why did you have to ruin a perfectly good message with a gratuitous reference to that vile pervert Michael Jackson?

James said...

When you say "two texts from different times to compare and a discussion about language change over time" for question 1, could this be a two bullet pointed question style, where the 'discussion' would be something like "Referring to Text A, Text B and your own studies, explore the ways in which the English language has changed over time"?

Thanks a lot for all your help by the way; I managed to get a hold of your 'language discourses 1' sheet, which seems to support your predictions.

Dan said...

Hi James, yes that's pretty much it. In the additional sample questions that AQA issued, they had a few like this where they drew on old ENA5 texts (1600 - 1945 texts) and kicked off with one bullet point on the texts and a second on the wider processes and patterns of change. Or they might not use two bullet points and just put it all in one question. You're being asked to do the same thing though, I think.

Glad the emag thing was helpful. I think the other one comes out after the exam, which isn't much use to this year's students!

Dan said...

Additional sample questions are here by the way: http://web.aqa.org.uk/qual/gce/pdf/AQA-2700-W-TRB-ASQENGA3.PDF

James said...

That's brilliant - thanks again!

Anonymous said...

Wish I had found this blog earlier than a day before my exam. Very helpful though, you remind me a lot of my own English teacher! (that's a good thing..)

Good luck everyone!

Dan said...

Thanks and good luck. Where do you study? I might know your teacher :-)

Anonymous said...

Hi Sir.. Mondelle Here =) yeah i know youve missed teaching us as much as we've missed ya sense of humour! (Loooads) English lessons worth going to.. Mr G is a bril teacher though - hes been a great help!. I will be waiting by the PC for your reply as i am more than 100% sure that you'll be getting bladdered in the hope of these 11 suckers scoring a decent goal!
Question 1: whats the possibility of accents and dialects coming up in varition!?
Question 2: Is it best to answer the questions taking the bullet points as seperate questions for both change/variation and discourse? (Hope u get what im saying blad)
Thank You for all your help and wise words during this difficult time they are much appreciated! [Sounds like the words u say when someone dies lol.- RIP MJ] Lol

Anonymous said...

@Dan I study (or now rather studied) at North Bromsgrove in Worcestershire :)

Dan said...

Good work. My uncle's a painter/decorator round there, so just let us know if you need any work doing on your student accommodation :-)

And good luck for tomorrow

Anonymous said...

Haha! Just got a few questions regarding theories, for accents and dialects, all I've got is Trudgill Petyt and Gile's accent persuasiveness study. I feel as though there are more I am not covering, or would these be OK in covering accents and dialects (if a question did come up..)

Also, in Section A, what are the chances of a old text/newer text appearing for language change? Our teacher showed us a paper this year (January's I presume?) and the two texts were contemporary, do you think they will continue this or revert back to old/new comparisons?

Thanks a lot! very much appreciated

Dan said...

Hi Mondelle, I miss you too. I was teaching some year 10s about grammar today and I could have done with your serious face to scare them. They would have been more scared than when I did my "come on , let's learn" cobblers, although I did manage to use the expression "man dem" for a cheap laugh. Ho ho ho.

Mr G is indeed a star teacher, so look after him or he'll go too and da yoot dem will have no guidance.

In answer to your questions (5 lagers into the afternoon, it has to be said - Ingerland etc)...

1) accent and dialect could well come up even though it did in January, so be ready for some identification of dialect features. My guess it will be gender variation, so get ready for some data about things like tag questions etc.
2)the question thing is your choice. If you feel happy about writing a long answer to both bullet points that covers it all then do it, but if not write it as two separate parts. I *think* the mark scheme allows for both (and I'm marking it next week but have no inside info obviously) and it depends on how you feel about the question. Personally, I'd probably go for 2 parts.

Now, remember you owe me some backstage VIP passes to the next JLS gig. Say hi to Marvin.

Dan said...

@Bromsgrove anon
I reckon the two texts is the most likely option for language change myself. Your best bet is to check the old ENA5 papers on the AQA site: http://web.aqa.org.uk/qual/gce/english/eng_lang_a_materials_old.php?id=02&prev=02 and go for ENA5 question 1

It's quite possible it won't be, but I think that it might be, given that language change over time is such a big topic.

For Variation, we at SFX have always made a big deal about Sue Fox's recent work ion London English - MEYD, Jafaican etc, which to us is where the latest research is really cutting edge, but covered enough in the mainstream media to make it big enough as a topic. Try MEYD and Sue Fox as search terms in the blog search bar and there's masses of stuff.

Hope this helps...slightly addled after afternoon of football related shenanigans.

Anonymous said...

Thanks a lot, I'm checking the AQA link now. I feel as though no matter what I revise tonight something else will come up tomorrow that I am unprepared for! I miss AS..

p-Berty said...

I'm really confused because on the mark scheme and examiners report they say that in section A question 1 you should always write about Prescriptivism Vs. Descriptivism but i'm not sure how to make a whole mini essay on this. Is there some theories or perspectives i am missing because all i have are all the old references to Robert Lowth and Johnson and for descriptivism Jean Aitchison. Please help me