Monday, May 26, 2008

ENA6 - Writing In a Particular Form

I had meant to cover this at some point before the exam, but a comment from a student on a different thread spurred me into action (thanks, Jack).

First of all, question 2a is one of the two big questions on ENA6: question 1c is a fairly straightforward textual analysis worth 20 marks, while this is a creative/ editorial piece that can yield 35 marks if you get it right.

You'll be asked to write in a particular form on a language issue. The idea is that you're expected to write about a linguistic idea - maybe new words, political correctness, how people feel about local dialects dying out, how women and men use language, whatever the topic of the paper is - for a mainstream, non-specialist audience. The question paper will give you 3-4 texts to use as source material but you don't have to limit yourself to these texts; you can use your own ideas too, but it's probably daft not to use what you're given.

The AQA A spec says this about the forms that you might be asked to write in:

This type of task requires candidates to write about language issues in some common forms where debate about language often occurs, e.g.
• letters to the editor
• articles
• editorials
• scripted radio talk

Candidates are being tested on their ability to communicate their knowledge and understanding of language to an audience beyond the examination.

The topics and forms set up until now are listed in this word document.

Some top tips for this question:

  • Make sure you read and annotate the question paper fully before starting any of the questions, but think about using coloured highlighters to select crucial info and quotes for Qu 2a.
  • Don't rely too heavily on the text you've just analysed for question 1c. If you make your 2a answer too similar to the 1c text you will not have much original to say.
  • Try to use short quotations and paraphrased ideas from the source texts, rather than epic quotations.
  • Try to explain linguistic concepts in a clear fashion for your audience: don't assume that they'll know what the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis postulated or who Steven Pinker is.
  • If appropriate, write with a light touch and try to engage your reader with humour and style.
  • Don't patronise. Did you hear me? Do. Not. Patronise. Did you see what I did there? Ha.
  • Use information and ideas from the full range of texts: the mark scheme rewards candidates who make use of the trickier texts/data from the question paper.
  • Write accurately: many of the 15 marks for style depend on clarity and accurate expression.
  • Read lots of examples of different forms between now and the exam so you're familiar with forms like editorials and letters to the editor.

There are no doubt loads of other things to think about, so if you have extra tips, comments or questions please add them below.

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