This AO assesses two things: your ability to use language frameworks and your ability to write accurately*. In this paper, you can be rewarded for simply picking out a feature and giving it the right label, and I think that's a good thing. Knowing stuff is important, and being able to apply your knowledge deserves reward. So, feature spotting language in the texts can actually get you quite a few marks for AO1 (which is worth 15/45 marks in the Language and Mode part of the exam).
In an ideal world, you would then make links between the language features you've noted and the modes of the texts, and their meanings, but picking out a few key language features which always get rewarded highly can help you score a few more marks. One really good thing about the ENGA1 mark scheme is how transparent it is. If you correctly identify a noun, that'll put you in the 5-8 band, but if you add more detail and label it as an abstract noun, that bumps you into the 9-12 band. The more detail you offer, the more marks you get...so long as you are accurate.
Here are a few to look out for:
Modal auxiliary verbs. There are only 9 of these, so they are easy enough to remember. If you're not sure what they are or what they do, look here. The good thing about modals is that they often have a very clear effect, helping you link to AO3ii (meaning).
Minor sentences. These are sentences which aren't really sentences. They are often fragments of speech or elliptical structures like noun phrases that are punctuated like sentences (e.g. Nice one.) or clauses missing a subject (e.g. Going out later.). Again, these can be pretty easy to spot and are often good for linking to mode, be it CMC texts like Tweets, emails or text messages, or spoken texts in which utterances rather than sentences are the basic unit of meaning.
If-clauses (clauses of condition) and because-clauses (clauses of reason). Even if you're not entirely clear about clause level analysis, these types of clause are quite easy to spot and again, while they can give you lots of AO1 marks, they often link to meaning nicely too. If you want to find out more about these, check here.
Next time, we'll look at Mode and why it's so important.
(*It's a bit of a silly combination, because they aren't really the same thing at all. For example, you could write really well, but say nothing interesting about the language of a text, or write really badly yet be full of insightful language points. But anyway, that's not AQA's fault; it's the fault of the people who made the awarding bodies jump through hoops to create new specifications.)