English Language A Level

A Level | OCR

English Language at A level is different to GCSE. It takes a close look at how the language works - how we acquire it as children, how it has developed and, crucially, how it is used, to change minds, to represent particular groups and to gain power and prestige.

The course aims to encourage you to develop your interest in the ways that the English language is used in a wide variety of texts and contexts, and for you to learn about its structure and functions.

The course encourages you to reflect on how you express yourself in speech and writing and should help you to do so with increasing competence, sophistication and enjoyment. A key element is also the study of language in society - how men and women converse, for example - and this aspect tends to prompt lively and fascinating debate.

Course details

What are the entry requirements?

A minimum of five GCSEs at grade 4 or above including grade 5 in English Language GCSE. However, it is preferable to have a grade 6 or above in English Language.

 

How will I be assessed?

Component Topic %
Examined component 1: Exploring language

Section A: Language under the Microscope – linguistic analysis of one text

Section B: Writing on a Topical Language Issue – writing in a media genre a discursive piece of 500 words on a statement

Section C: Comparing & Contrasting Texts – a comparison of spoken and written texts 

40%
Examined component 2: Dimensions of linguistic variation

Section A: Child Language Acquisition – analysing a transcript of children’s speech from the ages of 1-4

Section B: Language in the Media – analysis of representation of gender, power and technology in a media text

Section C: Language Change – a comparison of two texts on the same topic, produced during different centuries

40%
Non-Examined Assessment: Investigating language

An investigation of language gathered from primary data, including the formation of hypotheses, methodology and application of wider reading (2,500 words)

An academic poster which visually summarises the content of the investigation (750 – 1,000 words)

20%

What extra work can I do?

The wider your experience of texts, the better it will be for your English Language skills. You will learn a lot from watching and listening to a range of news output, advertisements and documentaries of all kinds, and reflecting on their language use, as well as reading biographies and a range of newspapers and magazines.

We will provide you with our own in-house anthologies of texts so that you can practise planning and writing analytically every week. The English Language page on Godalming Online contains a range of useful resources to support your study. We have an online Advanced Linguistics course that you can work through, designed for students who are intending to study English Language or Linguistics at university.

What skills will I learn?

From the outset, we will be encouraging you to gather texts yourself from all sorts of sources and be generally inquisitive about language use. You will be engaged in group discussion activities and presentations as well as detailed, practical exploration of the main aspects of language study.

 

These include:

  • Lexis (vocabulary)
  • Grammar
  • Syntax (structure of word into sentences)
  • Phonology (the study of the sound of language)
  • Semantics (the study of meaning)
  • Pragmatics (the study of language strategies).

 

Students often enjoy the element of the course that focuses on language in society, such as how people in power use language to control or influence others. We will ask you to practise your analytical writing every week. You will also develop your research skills through applying linguistic theories and studies to the analysis of data (i.e. texts).

 

The Non-Examined Assessment or coursework is an important element at A level and provides the opportunity to investigate an area of language of your choice. Previously, we have had investigations comparing how teenagers speak differently face-to-face compared to instant messaging online as well as how particular groups of individuals are represented across different media texts. You will practise the process of collecting your own primary data (texts) through an informed methodology, researching wider linguistic reading/theory to apply, forming hypotheses and analysing the data in context. This investigation will be accompanied by an academic poster where you visually outline and summarise your results and findings. 

What is the department like?

We are an enthusiastic team of expert English Language teachers, keen to share our enjoyment of language with you. Our aim on the course is to guide you in acquiring a range of linguistic skills which you can demonstrate in focused analysis and in texts that you create yourself. We try to provide a variety of learning experiences so that you are developing the skills you need in order to do well. We meet regularly and select and share resources that we hope will challenge and stimulate you. We aim to give careful and constructive feedback on your work.

From you, meanwhile, we need intellectual and creative involvement. An enjoyment of reading and listening to a wide variety of texts is the best place to start, but you also need to be keen to prepare for class and to work to the best of your ability on all assignments. This kind of engagement should lead to a high grade and for many, we hope, the decision to study an English Language related degree at university. Ultimately we want you to be able to think critically about how language is manipulated by those around you, as well as be able to use it skillfully yourself.

Future Careers and Progression

What are the progression routes for this qualification?

There are some excellent English Language or Language and Linguistics degree courses for which English Language A level is ideal. You can also apply for combined Language and Literature degrees. If you are applying for a degree course entitled “English” or “English Literature”, an A Level in English Literature is usually required.

Students doing a wide variety of other subjects, in Arts, Humanities and Sciences, also take A level English. They go on to many different courses and careers. The skills that you learn are a useful starting point for careers in the arts and the media (including journalism), law and business, and in other professions where a disciplined approach and critical awareness are needed.

Please note that it is possible to study English Language and English Literature as separate or combined A levels.

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