Specifications that use this resource:

Summary of changes AS

Our new AS English Language (7701) specification 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 AS 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.

Our AS English Language (7701) specification has been designed to be fully co-teachable with our A-level English Language (7702) specification, and contains half the content of the A-level specification. There is therefore no content in the new AS specification which is not also in the A-level specification (although clearly there is content which you will find in the A-level but not in the AS). Please refer to our Guidance on Co-teachability resource for more information about this.

Learning and assessment

The new AQA AS English Language (7701) specification 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 and the Individual’ focussing on individual contexts for language, and with ‘Language Varieties’ working outwards to consider larger-scale public discourses about variety. However, it would be just as viable to start with the bigger questions about language use in ‘Language Varieties’ and end closer to home in ‘Language and the Individual’. Both of these represent valid teaching methods, and your chosen route will depend on your own preferences.

Our new AS English Language (7701) specification 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 AS specifications, whether you are a teacher of the legacy A specification (2700) or B specification (2705) . For details about the changes for the full A-level, please refer to the separate Summary of changes document covering the A-level specifications.

In summary, our AS English Language specification offers a common core of analytical methods, topics and skills which have proven value, set within a flexible programme that allows schools and colleges to shape learning and teaching in ways appropriate to their particular contexts and constituencies. It has the additional benefit of being co-teachable with our A-level in English Language, thus widening options for you and your students and ensuring that you are able to deliver a programme of study that is coherent and manageable.

Specification at a glance

Overview of subject content and assessment structure

Assessments

Paper 1: Language and the Individual

What's assessed

  • Textual variations and representations
  • Methods of language analysis are integrated into the activities

Assessed

  • written exam: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • 70 marks
  • 50% of AS

Questions

Textual Variations and Representations

Two texts, 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)

Paper 2: Language Varieties

What's assessed

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

Assessed

  • written exam: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • 70 marks
  • 50% of AS

Questions

Section A - Language Diversity

A discursive essay on language diversity, with a choice of two questions (30 marks)

Section B - Language Discourses

A directed writing task on attitudes to language (40 marks)

Regulatory requirements

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

Aspects of AS subject criteria that are mandatory and a change from the current specification:
  • No non-exam assessment (NEA) permitted at AS.
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 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

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 and B specification 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.

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 AS English Language A (2700)

The table below gives an overview of how the subject content in the legacy GCE AS English Language A specification (2700) links to the new AS specification (7701).

What is the existing content?

How does this link to the new AS 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

Textual Variations and Representations

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

Language Development will not feature on the AS paper.

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)

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.

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 and the Individual

Paper 2: Language Varieties

Representation is one of several areas to focus on in Paper 1 and in both sections of Paper 2.

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, where ideas about language are explained and discussed.

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.

Legacy GCE AS English Language B (2705)

The table below gives an overview of how the subject content in the legacy GCE AS English Language B specification (2705) a links to the new AS specification (7701).

What is the existing content?

How does this link to the new AS 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 and the Individual

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 this section.

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

Paper 2: Language Varieties

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

Technology is an element relevant to a range of texts that might appear as part of Paper 1, including the electronic, web-based texts featured in the sample materials.

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)

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.

ENGB2: Creating Texts (coursework unit)

Two pieces of original writing and two commentaries.

Paper 2: Language Varieties

Section B – Language Discourses

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

Students will develop skills in:

  • writing discursively about language issues in an academic essay
  • writing about language issues in a variety of forms to communicate their ideas to a non-specialist audience.

Assessment objectives

Current assessment objectives

 

AS 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

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

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

AO4

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

15–35

New assessment objectives

 

AS weighting (approx %)

AO1

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

20 –30

AO2

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

20 –30

AO3

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

20 –30

AO4

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

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

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 AS English Language specification (7701).

Email

English-gce@aqa.org.uk