Friday, April 27, 2012

ENGA1: quick revision tips 1

This is the first in a series of very short revision tip posts on the AS exams for AQA A spec English Language.

Today, it's how to pick up marks by writing analytical sentences on the Language and Mode question.

This question is assessed using three Assessment Objectives (AOs):
  • AO1 Language analysis and written accuracy
  • AO3i Mode
  • AO3ii Meaning

If you develop a basic template for most of your sentences, you can get marks in all three AOs each time you say something. As you develop your approach, you can mix and match and start changing the order round a bit, adding a touch of stylistic variation.

The simple template is:
  • Identify a language feature to discuss (e.g. "Oh look, there's a modal verb...")
  • Label it accurately ("This is a modal auxiliary verb...")
  • Exemplify it ("The modal verb "must" is used in the first sentence of the article...")
  • Explain its effect and significance ("It is used to place responsibility and pressure on the reader of the text...")
  • Link to context and mode, if possible ("The genre of the piece - a written charity advertisement - lends itself to this use of modals. The text is designed to address the reader directly and place responsibility on the them to take action...")
The Principal Examiner's report for this unit often flags up points that need improvement each year, and one that is clearly important is how you talk about meaning, so when you analyse the texts for Language and Mode, try to think about what it is that is actually being talked about/written about in each text.

What is the subject matter and how is it being represented?
What language choices are being made to create this impression?
How are the writers/speakers in the texts positioning themselves in relation to the subject matter?
How are they positioning themselves in relation to the other participants/speakers or audience?

In other words, are there language choices being made which tell us something about what the writer/speaker thinks about (say) university, childcare, graffiti or (as in January 2012) the "Cultural Olympiad" (no, does exist)? Perhaps these language choices also tell us something about how we're being addressed and how the text producer/speaker wants us to view them.

We'll come back to this in a day or two as we move on to language featuresmode and meaning as separate AOs, but I hope that's at least a start for thinking about this question and how to answer it.

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