Monday, May 14, 2012

ENGA1: quick revision tips 4

Today's post on ENGA1 (coming up this Friday - yikes!) is about addressing meaning in the texts you analyse.

Recent principal examiner reports have made the point that as students get better at discussing language features and mode, meaning still seems to be a problem for many people. And that's not necessarily a big surprise. Given that you're probably primed and ready to pick out lots of language details and link them to mode, it's often easy to forget that the texts themselves mean something and represent ideas, people, events in particular ways. In many ways it's less easy to prepare for this AO.

But some ideas that might help are as follows:

  • As you're using your 15 minutes of reading and annotating time, try to summarise, in 25 words or fewer, what each text is actually about and what it is saying about that topic. Imagine you were being asked by someone "What have you just read?": try to think of what you would say. "Oh, it's an article about higher education that's trying to persuade you that university is a good thing," might be your response.
  • How is the subject matter being represented? You will also have done the ENGA2 unit in your AS year. Think about what you have learnt about representation. Language choices shape our perception of issues, events, individuals and institutions. What clues are there in the language about the viewpoint or perspective being taken? This could range from quite obvious points about adjective use to more subtle points about the passive voice being used to hide agency (e.g. "The use of mobile phones has been banned in this college." Banned by whom?) or nominalisation being used to turn a  verb process (e.g. dropping out of university) into a state of affairs or even a person, i.e. a noun (e.g. someone who has dropped out is referred to as a dropout).
  • Texts also reflect a degree of positioning on the part of the text producer (the speaker/s or the writer). How are the text producers representing themselves? How are pronouns used to position speakers or writers? 
  • If there is more than one speaker or writer, do they offer different perspectives? How do Text A and Text B differ?

If you're smart, you can weave points about meaning into your analytical sentences, rather than saving big chunks of your answer to deal with meaning, but it's also a good idea to allocate at least one paragraph to addressing meaning on its own and how the texts handle it in similar or different ways.

Tomorrow, it's time for some quick Language Development tips.


Anonymous said...

These tips are really helpful, thank you. I'm a little unsure about how I should be structuring my answer and how the structured paragraphs and whether I should be saying:

here's a mode feature, here's language to support it, this creates meaning in this way.


here's a language feature I've spotted, it conveys meaning in this way, also shows the mode feature in this way.

or even:

here is the positioning of the writer, it's seen through this language, conveys meaning in this way.

little confused! would love some help, Thank you!

Dan said...

To be honest, any or all of these would be fine. You will probably want to mix and match the order to avoid it being too formulaic, so try a mix of them.

In terms of structure, I'd normally suggest you go for a simple GASP approach (where Genre also includes Mode) in your first para and then look for points of similarity and difference in the ways the texts are constructed and represent their topics. The analytical sentence approach can be used for most paras and you can hit the three AOs that way.

Hope that's some help.

james jackob said...

These tips are good tips for revision. These will be very helpful in my examinations.

Revision Tips

oneil said...

Dan, can you please tell me how do I comment on the effect of clauses?

Dan said...

Hi, oneil, sorry for not replying sooner. That's a tricky question because it all depends on which clause and where it appears.
You might find, for example, a clause of reason ("Because you're worth it...") acting as providing an explanation to another clause, or a clause of condition ("If you give money...") setting a condition that has to be met for the other clause to take place. Equally an adverbial clause of time ("When I was young...") helps establish a time context for another clause, and a relative clause might add more information about another element in a different clause ("The man (who lives down the road) was arrested for blogging too much").

Hope that's some help, at least. Context is everything, though!