Specifications that use this resource:

Summary of changes A-level

Our new A-level English Language specification (7702) introduces the study of Language in its various forms and contexts, offering exciting and relevant text- and data-based sources of language. We have worked closely with teachers and universities to develop relevant, engaging and up-to date content that reflects contemporary language study.

In response to feedback from teachers, we’ve combined the best aspects from both of our legacy specifications. We’ve refreshed topics, building on new theories and concepts whilst at the same time allowing teachers and students to continue with topics they enjoy.

Skills development is at the heart of our new specification. With a diversity of skills and areas of study, we believe that our new specification offers both continuity and best practice for the subject. With one specification we can focus on providing excellence, both in terms of the specification and the support we offer.

While we are fully confident that our new specification offers the best possible course of study for A-level English Language, please note that while some of the changes for the new specification have been made in response to our consultation with teachers, universities and learned societies, other changes have been made in order to meet the new regulatory requirements.

Learning and assessment

The new AQA English Language specification (7702) brings together the best elements of the two legacy specifications, building on the discourse analysis focus of the A specification (2700) and the data-focused approach of the B specification (2705) . If you have previously taught either the A or the B specification, you will be familiar with all of the topics, so you can continue to teach as you do now and continue to use existing resources alongside our refreshed and exciting new bank of resources.

The methods of analysis appropriate to the fields of English language/linguistics underpin all the elements of the new specification, and these are applied to distinctive topic areas. The topics and titles of the subject content reflect a possible trajectory through the course, with ‘Language, the Individual and Society’ focusing on individual and immediate social contexts for language, and ‘Language Diversity and Change’ working outwards to consider larger-scale public discourses about change and variety, drawing on regional, ethnic, national and global Englishes. However, it would be just as viable to start with the bigger questions about language use in ‘Language Diversity and Change’ and end closer to home in ‘Language, the Individual and Society’. Both of these represent valid teaching methods, and your chosen route will depend on your own preferences.

The non-exam assessment, ‘Language in Action’, is by its very nature synoptic as it requires an ability to make connections across the course as a whole. Exposure to many different texts and discourses and a focus on aspects of textual variation will feed into the writing element of this component; and study of all the different areas of language variation, change and acquisition, as well as attitudes to language, will allow your students to choose a topic for their investigation.

Our new A-level English Language specification (7702) offers a common core of analytical methods, topics and skills that have proven value, set within a flexible programme that allows you to shape learning and teaching in ways appropriate for your own students. This Summary of changes document will help to show you how the learning and assessment in the new specification provides continuation from what you have been used to with the legacy specifications, whether you are a teacher of the legacy A specification (2700) or B specification (2705).

Specification at a glance

Overview of subject content and assessment structure

Assessments

Paper 1: Language, the Individual and Society

What's assessed

  • Textual variations and representations
  • Children's language development (0-11 years)
  • Methods of language analysis are integrated into the activities

Assessed

  • written exam: 2 hours 30 minutes
  • 100 marks
  • 40% of A-level

Questions

Section A - Textual Variations and Representations

Two texts (one contemporary and one older text) linked by topic or theme.
  • A question requiring analysis of one text (25 marks)
  • A question requiring analysis of a second text (25 marks)
  • A question requiring comparison of the two texts (20 marks)

Section B - Children's Language Development

A discursive essay on children’s language development, with a choice of two questions where the data provided will focus on spoken, written or multimodal language (30 marks)

Paper 2: Language Diversity and Change

What's assessed

  • Language diversity and change
  • Language discourses
  • Writing skills
  • Methods of language analysis are integrated into the activities

Assessed

  • written exam: 2 hours 30 minutes
  • 100 marks
  • 40% of A-level

Questions

Section A - Diversity and Change

One question from a choice of two:

Either: an evaluative essay on language diversity (30 marks)

Or: an evaluative essay on language change (30 marks)

Section B - Language Discourses

Two texts about a topic linked to the study of diversity and change.

  • A question requiring analysis of how the texts use language to present ideas, attitudes and opinions (40 marks)
  • A directed writing task linked to the same topic and the ideas in the texts (30 marks)

Non-exam assessment: Language in Action

What's assessed

  • Language Investigation
  • Original Writing
  • Methods of language analysis are integrated into the activities

Assessed

  • Word count: 3,500
  • 100 marks
  • 20% of A-level
  • Assessed by teachers
  • Moderated by AQA

Tasks

Students produce:

  • a language investigation (2,000 words excluding data)
  • a piece of original writing and commentary (1,500 words total)

Regulatory requirements

The following regulatory requirements are set by Ofqual and are the same across all AS and A-level English Language specifications and exam boards.

Aspects of A-level subject criteria that are mandatory and a change from the current specification:
  • Non-exam assessment (NEA) will have a mandatory weighting of 20%.
Aspects of AS subject criteria that are mandatory and a change from the current specification:
  • No non-exam assessment (NEA) is permitted at AS level.
The Assessment objectives have a slightly new look to them:
  • There are now 5 assessment objectives instead of 4, with AO4 being the new assessment objective, and requiring an exploration of connections across texts, informed by linguistic concepts and methods
  • The wording for each assessment objective has been updated for increased clarity as to its specific focus
  • See Assessment objectives for further information.

Overview of changes

Changes to the structure and assessment of the qualification

This table below gives an overview of the changes from the legacy GCE English Language Specification A (2700) and Specification B (2705).

Please note: regulatory requirements are indicated by *

AS and

A-level

What’s new

What’s gone

What’s changed

What’s the same

Structure

AS and A-levels are now linear, ie assessments in the final year of course.*

AS is decoupled from A-level ie AS results do not count towards A-level. *

No coursework (non-exam assessment) permitted at AS.*

Our AS and A-level specifications are co-teachable, where appropriate. You can, of course, teach AS and A-level students separately if that suits you better.

We have simplified the structure of the qualification by combining the two legacy specs into one specification.

Use of the term ‘coursework’ – now ‘non-exam assessment’ (NEA).

40% coursework (NEA) component weighting across AS/A2*

As AS and A-level are no longer modular, units are now called 'components'.

A-level now comprises three components instead of four.

A-level component weightings now 80% examination; 20% NEA.*

AS component weightings now 100% examination.*

We have retained the structure of the AS and A-level so textual analysis and methods still underpin the specification.

Familiar and popular topics including language variation are retained from the current specifications.

Assessment

Assessment objectives (AOs) have been refreshed and updated. A new AO (AO4) has been added, giving a new total of five assessment objectives.* See Assessment objectives.

Each of AO1, AO2 and AO3 can be targeted in the range 20–30%.*

Each of AO4 and AO5 can be targeted in the range 10–15%.*

AO5 must be targeted with at least one of AO2, AO3 or AO4, either in the same task or in two or more linked tasks.*

 

AS now comprises two assessments:

Paper 1: written exam

Paper 2: written exam

We have reduced the assessment burden so that the A-level now comprises three assessments rather than four:

Component/Paper 1 written exam

Component/Paper 2 written exam

Component 3 Non-exam assessment (NEA)

There is now a broader range of task types, including directed writing and academic essays as well as data analysis, to help students develop an even more extensive range of skills.

The best aspects of the current A specification (2700) and B specification (2705) mark schemes have been combined in producing a new mark scheme, with consistency being maintained across the components at AS and A-level through having the same number of levels (five) in the mark scheme for every question. Within the mark scheme for each assessment objective for an individual question, the number of marks in each level is the same.

Data focus is retained, with a variety of rich and accessible data provided for students to analyse across the examined components.

The language investigation is retained as part of the non-exam assessment (and is not restricted to spoken language as it has been for legacy Specification A).

Same assessment criteria applied to AS and A-level. Same grading system of A* to E (A-level) and A to E (AS).

Marking will continue to be by assessment objective.

Summary of changes to subject content

Legacy GCE English Language A (2700)

The table below gives an overview of how the subject content in the legacy GCE English Language A specification (2700) links to the new specification (7702).

What is the existing content?

How do these link to the new A-level specification?

What does this mean for teaching and learning?

ENGA1: Seeing Through Language

(exam unit)

Section A

Language and Mode

Analysis of two texts from different modes (written, spoken, mixed).

Section B

Language Development

A short data question identifying features of children’s language.

An essay cue question.

Choice of children’s spoken or written language.

Paper 1: Language and the Individual

Section A – Textual Variations and Representations

Language analysis of two texts and comparison. Mode is one of four key areas (audience, purpose, genre and mode).

Section B – Children's Language Development

A discursive essay on children’s language development, with a choice of two questions where the data provided will focus on spoken, written or multimodal language.

Students should study a range of texts:

  • about various subjects
  • from various writers and speakers
  • for various audiences
  • for various purposes
  • in a variety of genres
  • using a variety of modes (written, spoken, electronic)
  • from different times
  • from different places (global, national, regional).

When analysing texts, students should explore how language is:

  • shaped according to audience, purpose, genre and mode
  • shaped according to context
  • used to construct meanings and representations
  • used to enact relationships between writers, speakers and audiences or between participants within a text.

This exploration will include:

  • methods of language analysis
  • how identity is constructed
  • how audiences are addressed and positioned
  • the functions of the texts
  • the structure and organisation of the texts
  • how representations are produced.

Students should explore how children develop their spoken and written skills. To achieve this, students should study:

  • the functions of children’s language
  • phonological, pragmatic, lexical, semantic and grammatical development
  • different genres of speech and writing
  • different modes of communication (spoken, written, multimodal)
  • theories and research about language development.

ENGA2: Representation and Language

(coursework unit)

Investigation into how language represents an individual, social group, institution, issue or event across 3–5 texts.

Production piece and commentary, creating or challenging a representation.

Paper 1: Language, the Individual and Society

Representation is one of several areas to focus on in Paper 1 Section A

Paper 2: Language Diversity and Change

Representation is also an area to focus on in both sections of Paper 2, and the discourse analysis in ENGA2 can be found in Paper 2 Section B.

The creative skills from ENGA2 can be seen in the writing part of Paper 2 (Q4 in Section B), where ideas about language are explained and discussed.

Non-exam assessment: Language in Action The creative skills from ENGA2 can also be seen in the non-exam assessment, where students will be completing a piece of original writing and a commentary.

In Paper 1, students are being asked to think about how language constructs ideas and events, offers opinions and creates meanings, while in Paper 2, the representation of different varieties of English and their users is part of the overall coverage of sociolinguistics. The representation focus from ENGA2 work can be developed to include a range of other areas, including mode, context (including different times), audience, purpose and genre.

In Paper 2, students explore how texts are produced to convey views and opinions about language issues, thus clearly linking with the critical discourse analysis they currently undertake in ENGA2. Work on Language Discourses from ENGA3 can also be applied here.

The creative elements of the non-exam assessment and commentary are similar to the existing ENGA2 production task but with the added focus on a style model.

ENGA3: Language Explorations

(exam unit)

Section A

Language Change and Variation Choice of two questions on change or variation. Two texts/data sets on language in use.

Section B Language Discourses

Question on arguments and debates around language. Two texts to analyse and discuss.

Paper 2: Language Diversity and Change

Topics of change, diversity and discourses are all covered in Paper 2.

The existing areas covered on ENGA3 appear in the new specification too. The main change is the creative response for the new directed writing task in Section B, which requires students to respond to stimulus material and language ideas in a form suited to a non-specialist audience. Bullet point two (evaluation of ideas) from ENGA3 will be done within this directed writing.

The other change is that for the essay questions in Section A of the new specification, there will not be data provided. This will enable students to show their learned knowledge in a clear and systematic way, and avoid being restricted in terms of the application of their knowledge through any limitations in data.

Section A: Diversity and Change

Students should study a range of examples of language in use and research data to inform their study of diversity and change:

  • texts using different sociolects (to include social and occupational groups, gender and ethnicity)
  • texts using different dialects (to include regional, national and international varieties of English)
  • texts that use language to represent the different groups above
  • texts from different periods, from 1600 to the present day
  • written, spoken and electronic texts about a range of subjects, for various audiences and purposes in a variety of genres
  • items from collections of language data (eg dictionaries, online resources, language corpora)
  • research findings (eg tables, graphs, statistics).

When analysing texts and data, students should explore:

  • how language varies because of personal, social, geographical and temporal contexts
  • why language varies and changes, developing critical knowledge and understanding of different views and explanations
  • attitudes to language variation and change
  • the use of language according to audience, purpose, genre and mode
  • how language is used to enact relationships.

This exploration will include:

  • methods of language analysis
  • how identity is constructed
  • how audiences are addressed and positioned
  • the functions of the texts

Section B: Language Discourses

Students will study a range of texts that convey attitudes to language diversity and change. The texts studied will include those written for non-specialist audiences.

Students will explore how texts are produced to convey views and opinions about language issues.

They will explore how texts:

  • represent language
  • construct an identity for the producer
  • position the reader and seek to influence them
  • are connected to discourses about language.

ENGA4: Language Investigations and Interventions

(coursework unit)

Language investigation: student research project based on collection of spoken data.

Language intervention: creative piece addressing and contributing to an aspect of language change or variation.

Non-exam assessment: Language in Action

Language investigation is very similar to current incarnation but now broadens to cover written and spoken language.

There is original writing as part of the coursework (with an analytical reflective commentary in a similar model to ENGA2)

Paper 2: Language Diversity and Change

There is a new creative element (similar to the intervention) in Section B Q4 in the Paper 2 exam.

The language investigation broadens in focus (back to what it was pre-2009) to include all forms of written and spoken data, freeing students to examine a wider range of topics.

The creative elements of the coursework and commentary are similar to the existing ENGA2 model but with the added focus on a style model.

Legacy GCE English Language B (2705)

This table gives an overview of how the subject content in the legacy GCE English Language B specification (2705) links to the new specification (7702).

What is the existing content?

How do these link to the new A-level specification?

What does this mean for teaching and learning?

ENGB1: Categorising Texts

(exam unit)

Section A

Text Varieties

Grouping and analysis of a range of short texts.

Section B

Language and Social Contexts
  • Language and Gender
  • Language and Power
  • Language and Technology.

Paper 1: Language, the Individual and Society

Section A – Textual Variations and Representations

Language analysis of two texts and comparison.

Key concepts from ENGB1 such as audience, purpose, genre, mode and representation all apply to the questions in Section A.

Concepts and approaches from power, technology and gender can all be related to the analysis of texts in Section A.

Paper 2: Language Diversity and Change

Gender and interaction, along with how gender is represented, are areas that now appear in Paper 2: Language Diversity and Change. The skills from the gender topic in ENGB1 find a new place in this paper.

Technology is an element of language change (both in terms of causes of change and examples of potential texts appearing on the paper), so again skills and resources from ENGB1 can be used here.

Students should study a range of texts:

  • about various subjects
  • from various writers and speakers
  • for various audiences
  • for various purposes
  • in a variety of genres
  • using a variety of modes (written, spoken, electronic)
  • from different times
  • from different places (global, national, regional).

When analysing texts, students should explore how language is:

  • shaped according to audience, purpose, genre and mode
  • shaped according to context
  • used to construct meanings and representations
  • used to enact relationships between writers, speakers and audiences or between participants within a text.

This exploration will include:

  • methods of language analysis
  • how identity is constructed
  • how audiences are addressed and positioned
  • the functions of the texts
  • the structure and organisation of the texts
  • how representations are produced.

Students should explore how children develop their spoken and written skills. To achieve this, students should study:

  • the functions of children’s language
  • phonological, pragmatic, lexical, semantic and grammatical development
  • different genres of speech and writing
  • different modes of communication (spoken, written, multimodal)
  • theories and research about language development.

ENGB2: Creating Texts

(coursework unit)

Two pieces of original writing and two commentaries.

Non-exam assessment: Language in Action

The non-exam assessment on the new specification retains an original writing + commentary task.

Paper 2: Language Diversity and Change

The creative skills from ENGB2 can also be seen to some extent in the writing part of Paper 2, where a new text is created, responding to a language issue.

Non-exam assessment (Language In Action) includes a creative element.

Students will 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

and one accompanying commentary.

ENGB3: Developing Language

(exam unit)

Questions based on a selection of data relating to the topic areas:

Section A

Language Acquisition

Section B

Language Change

Paper 2: Language Diversity and Change

The topic of language change will appear on Paper 2. The focus will be more on processes and patterns of change and reasons for it, than older texts (an example of which now appears on Paper 1).

Some of the content for attitudes to language change that appears on ENGB3 will also appear as part of Language Discourses in section B of Paper 2.

Paper 1: Language, the Individual and Society

The Language Acquisition topic is now covered as part of Paper 1 Section B (Children’s Language Development). This will comprise a discursive essay on children’s language development, with a choice of two questions where the data provided will focus on spoken, written or multimodal language.

Paper 2: Language Diversity and Change

Section A: Diversity and Change

Students should study a range of examples of language in use and research data to inform their study of diversity and change:

  • texts using different sociolects (to include social and occupational groups, gender and ethnicity)
  • texts using different dialects (to include regional, national and international varieties of English)
  • texts that use language to represent the different groups above
  • texts from different periods, from 1600 to the present day
  • written, spoken and electronic texts about a range of subjects, for various audiences and purposes in a variety of genres
  • items from collections of language data (eg dictionaries, online resources, language corpora)
  • research findings (eg tables, graphs, statistics).

When analysing texts and data, students should explore:

  • how language varies because of personal, social, geographical and temporal contexts
  • why language varies and changes, developing critical knowledge and understanding of different views and explanations
  • attitudes to language variation and change
  • the use of language according to audience, purpose, genre and mode
  • how language is used to enact relationships.

This exploration will include:

  • methods of language analysis
  • how identity is constructed
  • how audiences are addressed and positioned
  • the functions of the texts.

Section B: Language Discourses

Students will study a range of texts that convey attitudes to language diversity and change.

The texts studied will include those written for non-specialist audiences.

Students will explore how texts are produced to convey views and opinions about language issues.

They will explore how texts:

  • represent language
  • construct an identity for the producer
  • position the reader and seek to influence them
  • are connected to discourses about language.

ENGB4: Language Investigation and Media Text

(coursework unit)

Language investigation: student research project based on collection of data.

Media text: creative piece for a non-specialist audience based on topic area of investigation

Non-exam assessment: Language in Action

Language investigation is almost identical to current specification

Paper 2: Language Diversity and Change

The ENGB4 media text is closest to the new creative element in Section B Q4 of the Paper 2 exam.

Non-exam assessment: Language In Action Language Investigation

Students may choose to pursue an area of individual interest. For example, this might include studies of:

  • gendered talk
  • representations of different individuals, social groups or nationalities
  • regional dialect
  • the language of new communication technologies
  • children’s language use
  • norms and variations in usages of different kinds
  • the language of the media
  • code switching and mixing between English and other languages
  • the language of different occupations or pastimes
  • historical changes in English over time.

Students are not obliged to restrict themselves to those areas that are formally taught, as the basis of the investigation is the value of student-led enquiry supported by open learning. Therefore, any area seen by supervising teachers as yielding interesting questions about language in use may be chosen.

Original Writing

Students will 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

and one accompanying commentary.

Assessment objectives

Current assessment objectives

 

AS weighting (approx %)

A2 weighting (approx %)

A-level weighting (approx %)

AO1

Select and apply a range of linguistic methods to communicate relevant knowledge using appropriate terminology and coherent, accurate written expression

15–35

15–35

15–35

AO2

Demonstrate critical understanding of a range of concepts and issues related to the construction and analysis of meanings in spoken and written language, using knowledge of linguistic approaches

15–35

15–35

15–35

AO3

Analyse and evaluate the influence of contextual factors on the production and reception of spoken and written language, showing knowledge of the key constituents of language

15–35

15–35

15–35

AO4

Demonstrate expertise and creativity in the use of English in a range of different contexts, informed by linguistic study

15–35

15–35

15–35

New assessment objectives

  AS weighting (approx %) A-level weighting (approx %)
AO1

Apply appropriate methods of language analysis, using associated terminology and coherent written expression.

20–30

20–30

AO2

Demonstrate critical understanding of concepts and issues relevant to language use.

20–30

20–30

AO3

Analyse and evaluate how contextual factors and language features are associated with the construction of meaning.

20–30

20–30

AO4

Explore connections across texts, informed by linguistic concepts and methods.

10–15

10–15

AO5

Demonstrate expertise and creativity in the use of English to communicate in different ways.

Note: This assessment objective must be targeted with at least one of AO2, AO3 or AO4, either in the same task or in two or more linked tasks

10–15

10–15

Teaching resources and Support service

Teaching resources

Digital anthology

A digital anthology with a wide range of free interactive resources, and an annotation tool, to support the teaching of English Language, English Literature, and English Language and Literature.

Student textbooks

Student textbooks and digital resources that have been checked and endorsed by AQA

Marked and annotated student responses

Marked and annotated student responses to the questions on our specimen papers with senior examiner commentaries

Teachit English

A library of teaching resources, written by teachers for teachers

Support service

Subject advisers

Subject advisers who will support you in the transition to the new specification and facilitate local and regional network and update meetings

Subject team

Knowledgeable subject team on hand, to answer your questions

Training courses

Training courses to help you deliver AQA qualifications

CPD courses

Whether you’re an experienced teacher looking for fresh inspiration, a new teacher keen to extend your knowledge, or you want to build on your teaching skills, our range of subject-related courses has something to offer

Enhanced Results Analysis (ERA)

Analyse your students' results with Enhanced Results Analysis (ERA)

Website

A comprehensive and up-to-date website with all you need to know about the new A-level English Language specification (7702).

Email

English-gce@aqa.org.uk