Awarding Body:AQACourse Duration:2 Years


A Level English Language looks at the social science of language, its use by those around us and the detailed terminology through which we describe its structure and grammar.  Our students find the focus of the course very different to GCSE English Language. Prior study of a foreign language often helps prepare students for the grammatical concepts A Level English Language covers. We will draw on content from Sociology, Psychology and Media Studies. There is some original writing in the course, but written responses will be predominately analytical in their nature.

Course Content

English Language is an exciting, analytical subject in which students will learn the tools and terminology of linguistic description to respond to texts. Much of the content can be applied to everyday linguistic interactions.  While students will have the chance to produce some of their own writing, an interest in how English is used in daily life will be needed, along with a desire to analyse its various components in detail.

Year 1

Language Analysis - Students will be introduced to the skills of textual analysis – writing systematically about the language used in texts. ‘Texts’ will be taken in a wide sense and could include a range of written, electronic and spoken texts.  Students will be required to use accurate terminology to describe specific features of language, in order to guide comparisons of how texts create meanings and representations.

Language Diversity - Students will begin to learn how language use is affected by an individual’s gender, occupational, social, regional and ethnic background.  This will involve looking at previous case studies, conducting some wider research and using data (for example a transcript of conversation or statistics about language use by groups of people) to evaluate ideas.  The exam’s essay question will require an evaluation of a statement related to Language Diversity.

Child Language Acquisition - Students will study the patterns of children’s development of language.  This will involve looking at spoken, written and reading acquisition.  Students will learn theories about the wider process of acquisition and apply these to texts (for example a transcript of a young child interacting with parents at bedtime or a report of a school outing written by a primary school child).

Year 2

Language Discourses - Students will engage with the varied attitudes that exist in society to language use, related to topics such as those being covered in Language Diversity.  The exam will require students to compare opinions expressed in texts about a chosen topic.  This will then lead to the task of writing a piece of opinion journalism on this topic, for a stated audience (for instance an opinion article for The Guardian on why people might change their regional accents).  

Language Change - Students will learn how the English Language has evolved historically, charting developments through the study of texts from different time periods.  The exam will invite students to compare texts of similar genres and topics, but from different times (potentially back to 1600).  Students will also study how English continues to change in modern times in the British Isles, in addition to its role as a world language.  Attitudes towards these changes will be considered and evidenced through the analysis and production of journalistic texts.

Original Writing (non-exam assessment) - Students will produce their own piece of original writing (750 words).  There is a great deal of choice of what this could be: it will draw on analytical studies of a range of genre (for instance dramatic monologue, short story, journalism).  In the commentary element (750 words), students will write about their own drafting process and how stylistic choices contributed to the intended purposes and meanings. The practice of these skills will begin in Year 1.

Language Investigation (non-exam assessment) - This involves students undertaking a linguistic investigation (2000 words) into an area of personal language interest. The task will involve aim setting, data collection (which might involve designing experiments, recording and transcribing language use, searching internet databases), linguistic analysis and evaluation.

Students will be assessed on the content and skills at the end of the 2 years through two 2 ½ hour summer exams (80%) and the non-exam assessment (20%) for the award of the A-level qualification.  Internal exams at the end of Year 1 will assess Year 1’s learning and inform on progression to Year 2.

Methods of Teaching

Teaching methods include use of ILT (interactive whiteboard, use of subject intranet site, Quizlet, Kahoot), class discussion, audio/visual clips and completing notes in course packs. Extension lectures and revision sessions take place at some stages of the year, as well as workshops to offer assistance on subject content. Students are expected to take responsibility for their own learning by completing written assignments and undertaking independent study through wider reading, supported by the subject intranet site.

Financial Implications

There is a £10 initial cost at the start of the course for resource packs that will be used to accompany the teaching of units.  There are suggested textbooks that can be bought to support the course. Additional costs could be incurred for optional trips to lectures, conferences or visits. The College has a Student Support Fund for those students who have difficulty meeting these costs.

Where Could It Take Me?

Studying English Language at A-level is excellent preparation for higher education courses in the English Language/Linguistics field, as well as a range of other Arts, Humanities and Social Science subjects.  Our students go on to a wide range of course and career disciplines. As a skilled language commentator and user, students will have access to a wide range of professions including education, journalism, speech therapy, publishing, law and management.

Entry Requirements

5 GCSEs at grade 4 or above, including Maths and English.

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