But anyway, here's a thing I've put together for our returning AS students, now embarking on the 2nd year of the A level course. It's not a complete explanation of what's involved in the Non-Exam Assessment (NEA) but sets a few starting points and offers some ideas for what you can do before you really get started.
We're not officially starting our NEA work until nearer Christmas (and just to mention Christmas seems obscene at this time of year!) but we'd like students to think ahead a bit and get some ideas ticking over.
You can find plenty of other ideas about language investigations from the blog here.
As part of the second year of your A level course, you will have two exam components and one that is called Non-Exam Assessment (i.e. coursework).
The aim of NEA component is to allow you to explore and analyse language data independently and develop and reflect upon your own writing expertise.
It requires you to carry out two different kinds of individual research:
– a language investigation (2,000 words excluding data)
– a piece of original writing and commentary (750 words each)
A project that involves you researching and investigating an area of language, setting your own questions, collecting your own data and then analysing your data and writing it all up. It’s not quite like anything you will have done before for English and requires a good chunk of time, some clear understanding of how language works and - perhaps, most importantly - your own initiative. You will get more detailed information about the investigation as the term goes on, but will find it helpful to think about potential investigation topics as you look back at work from last year and develop your understanding of new topic areas this year.
A Language Investigation might look something like one of the examples below – which are based on topics you cover on the course – but could equally be about something we do not do on the course. As long as there is a language element to it and you can convince your teacher that it is a viable project, you can do it.
1. A study of the language techniques used by Great British Bake-Off judges when commenting on the cakes produced in the final rounds of the competition, focusing on politeness, directness and possible gender differences.
2. An investigation into the language of female boxers during interviews to see if stereotypes about female communication are true for these women.
3. A comparison of the language used by three children of different ages when responding to the same task, focusing particularly on the stages of development they are at and their ability to use vocabulary and grammar.
4. An investigation into the ways in which different political parties and pressure groups represented the EU during the 2016 referendum across their campaign literature.
5. A study of ways in which local newspapers in 3 different areas represent their local dialect and accent in reports about varieties of English.
6. A comparison of how Maybelline adverts change over a 75-year period in their representation of female beauty.
7. An investigation into the messaging styles of 3 different age groups when using WhatsApp.
8. An investigation into the ways that the language of Twitter arguments differs from those carried out face to face.
9. An exploration of the different language techniques used by three supermarkets to represent their values to the general public on their official websites.
10. A study of the linguistic techniques used by rugby commentators in a radio commentary compared to an online commentary from the BBC website.
This is not an exhaustive list and there are endless possibilities to explore, but you should be able to see that some of these link to areas you might already have studied, while others pick up on A level-only topics.
What you can do now
• Think about potential language investigation topics (and possible methodologies i.e. how you might approach the topic) as this first term goes on
• Start collecting data: saving articles, bookmarking links, making a note of interesting radio, TV or online shows
• Start discussing ideas with your teacher
• Read the material in your A level handbook (and in the OUP or CUP course textbooks) for ideas about how to approach the NEA
You will need to produce one piece of original writing based on one of the following three areas:
• the power of persuasion
• the power of storytelling
• the power of information
The topic choice is down to you (in discussion with your teacher) but you must have looked at a range of style models and chosen one to comment on in more detail as part of your commentary. Again, you will do some of this in class, but it is a good idea to think about the kind of thing you can write and might enjoy doing. Some suggestions for original writing tasks might be:
The power of persuasion
• A piece of investigative journalism.
• A speech delivered on a controversial topic.
• A letter to an MP.
The power of storytelling
• A short story.
• An extract from a biography.
• A dramatic monologue.
The power of information
• A piece of travel journalism.
• A blog focusing on social issues.
• A piece of local history.
Each folder submitted should contain:
• a piece of original writing
• an annotated style model
• a reflective commentary references (paper and web-based)
What you can do now
Read and write. Find stories, articles and speeches to read. Practise writing in different styles. Use the time in class for Directed Writing tasks as part of the exam components to experiment with form, style and voice. This is one of the few areas on any A level that allows you to write what you like.