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.