Wednesday, February 03, 2016

AS Directed Writing - finding style models

Section B on Paper 2 of the new AQA AS-level sets a directed writing task which means that students will need to get used to writing in a different way about language topics. In Section A of the paper, they will be writing an essay in response to some stimulus data and a "Discuss the idea..." essay prompt.

The sample material on the AQA site has one task (you can find it here and a student response to it with examiner commentary here) asking students to "Write an opinion article in which you discuss the issues surrounding people changing their accents". The stimulus text is a short extract from the Mail Online looking at media celebrity Donna Air changing her working class Geordie accent to something closer to her posh boyfriend's accent and it's pretty clear that this is not the kind of article that students will need to write for themselves, because a) it's very light on language issues (and AO2 is worth half the marks here) and b) it's a very short extract.

We've just been looking in class at possible style models for opinion pieces and come up with a few possibilities for the kinds of articles that appear in the broadsheet press or on their websites, and which offer some solid language content as well as arguing a case effectively. Here are a few ideas:

Julia Snell in The Independent responds to the Sacred Heart School dialect row: plenty of serious language content for AO2 and some nice shaping of an argument for AO5.

Michael Rosen in The Guardian taking on grammar pedants and those who teach a "right and wrong" way of dealing with grammar: a strongly argued piece that picks up a debate from elsewhere and explains the ins and outs of it, making language ideas accessible to a non-specialist but interested reader.

Robert Lane Greene in The Economist's language blog looking at accent prejudice: a range of linguistic references integrated effectively into a clear explanation of the main issues for a non-specialist audience.

In many ways, the kinds of opinion piece that appear as potential Media Texts for the old ENGB4 and Language Interventions for ENGA4 are also worth a look. Various examples of these have been collected here and here on this blog.

If you have found any others that you think are worth a look, please let us know via @EngLangBlog.


Anonymous said...

Im learning about power in English language, do you have any tips for the exam and if possible, any theories?

Anonymous said...

**As Level**

Klass Act said...

I emailed the exam board about the types of Directed Writing the students could be asked to write and was given the following answer:

As the question requires students to write about a language issue to communicate their ideas to a non-specialist audience, the form will need to be one which enables them to do this successfully, and the opinion article (as in the specimen paper) is one such form. The purpose will always be to inform or persuade, so you might find it helpful to consider the kinds of forms which are suggested in the Original Writing part of the A-level specification (4.3.2) (valid for AS as well) on page 21 under “The power of persuasion” and “The power of information”, noting of course that not all of these would be possible within a timed examination.
The important thing here is that students should be taught to write in a variety of forms (as per the second bullet of 3.2.3 Writing skills in the specification

Hope that is helpful for you!

Dan said...

Yes, that's along the lines of what I've seen. I think that if it's always going to opinion-based writing as this document ( outlines, some forms will be more suitable than others. I might do a short lesson on different forms of opinion writing, but I'm not going to worry too much about some of the more left-field forms.

Klass Act said...
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