Subject content

This is an extract of the full specification, which you can download from this page.

This specification begins by asking learners to study language in its immediate contexts of audience, purpose, subject matter, genre and mode. Examples of texts in the AS examinations will be contemporary but the emphasis on mode and multi-modal texts will provide an element of language change as candidates explore the effects and uses of changing communications technology.

Early study should place emphasis on the learners' own uses and experiences of language as they are at the centre of a rich and varied linguistic environment. They should also explore the creativity and pleasure that different forms of speech and writing can generate. The use of coursework enables learners to pursue their own academic and creative interests and to develop as autonomous learners.

In the A2 units learners explore language in its wider social, geographical and temporal contexts, broadening their study. They also explore how ideas about the nature and functions of language are created and are linked to social beliefs and values. They will increasingly reflect on the ways knowledge about language is produced and socially situated.

Key approaches

A key approach to linguistic study

The AS coursework unit foregrounds a key approach to language study that characterises the whole specification. Learners will explore texts as parts of discourses that create and communicate social knowledge and beliefs. They will be able to explore how gender, ethnicity, ability, sexuality are represented. Learners will be able to explore how events (eg global warming), institutions (eg the NHS) and people (eg hoodies or asylum seekers) are represented. The possibilities of coursework will enable the learner to explore how a discourse is inflected in different texts and genres from different sources or over a period of time.

At a high level the approaches of the linguistic school of Critical Discourse Analysis underline this approach. For AS and A level, learners can analyse texts by exploring four functions of language:

  • the expressive function – how a text represents its writer or producer and conveys their attitudes and values
  • the experiential function – how a text represents people, institutions and events
  • the relational function – how a text creates an ideal audience position, creating a power relation between producer and audience, and shaping the audience's response
  • the textual function – how texts create coherence and cohesion.

This approach to textual study should be introduced in preparation for the AS examination unit and will become a core method for the whole specification.

A further useful approach will be to explore the linguistic representation of participants, processes and circumstances. When developing knowledge of linguistic frameworks learners will thus consider how different elements of language function to produce representations. As well as looking at how texts create an ideal audience position, learners should explore how actual readers or listeners with their own context of reception might interpret texts.

A key approach to teaching and learning

A second key approach that characterises this specification is the interconnection of production and analysis work. As well as analysing how language produces social knowledge, learners are asked to write texts that will make challenging and positive contributions to the kinds of discourse they have studied.

This connection is also seen as a productive approach to teaching and learning. As an aid to understanding how texts work, processes of textual intervention and transformation are effective learning strategies. Small scale re-writings modifying pronouns or modal verbs can foreground interesting textual effects. Large scale re-writings (eg as a dialogue with two voices or from another point of view) can explore alternative values and ways of seeing. Re-writing also develops learners' creative skills and can be a source of pleasure.

Language as an object of study

In the A2 units learners will explore how ideas about language are created and constituted. In Unit 3 section B they will look at texts about language and be expected to analyse critically the ways discourses about language create social knowledge and beliefs about language.

They may be presented with texts that contribute to the discourse of language change as a process of decay. They may be asked to analyse texts that are part of the discourse about political correctness as intolerant and excessive. They may need to analyse texts which form the discourses of regional accents as incorrect or ugly.

As well as analysing how these texts produce knowledge and ideas about language, learners will be asked to use their own study of language to challenge these discourses. In the examination this will be done in an essay form. In their coursework they will write about a language issue for a specific audience and purpose. This will stretch and challenge learners as they seek to communicate their insights and knowledge beyond the confines of their academic community. They are also being asked to make an intervention in discourses about language.

In their study of language variation and change learners will be expected to analyse examples of language in use. They will also be expected to show understanding of the ways such data has been investigated and interpreted by researchers. For example, learners will explore critically the ways that approaches to gender and language have evolved to produce different ideas about language, moving from deficit and dominance views to difference, diversity and discourse approaches.

Useful References

Helpful ideas about ways of approaching textual study, the use of re-writing and textual interventions, and how ideas about language are generated can be found in:
Fairclough, N. (1989) Language and Power, London: Longman
Pope, R. (1995) Textual Intervention, London: Routledge
Crowley, T (1989) The Politics of Discourse: The Standard Language Question in British Cultural Debates, London: Macmillan

Unit 1- Seeing Through Language

Introduction

This unit is designed to introduce candidates to the study of the modes of language. It employs the core variation concepts of audience, purpose, field, genre and adds the idea of mode. Candidates are required to study how language is used in written, spoken and electronic forms.

The unit also requires candidates to study a language issue: Language Development. Candidates will explore how children learn language and how this is linked with cognition and how they are able to understand and express themselves through language.

Language and Mode

Candidates should study:
  • written, spoken and electronic texts
  • planned and spontaneous texts
  • texts about a range of subjects, for varying audiences and purposes
  • ways of classifying modes (eg continuum, typology and dimensions approaches).
When analysing a text candidates should explore:
  • the use of language according to the mode
  • the impact of context
  • how language is used to realise a text's functions and convey meaning.
This will involve analysing:
  • significant features of lexis, grammar, semantics and pragmatics
  • how speaker/writer identity is conveyed
  • how the listener/reader is positioned
  • the functions of the text (interactional and transactional)
  • the structure and organisation of texts
  • representational issues.

Linguistic Frameworks

Candidates will need to be able to describe significant features of texts using Linguistic Frameworks. The following list is a guide to the kind of features candidates are expected to explore. Recognised alternative systems for describing language are perfectly acceptable.

Phonological:
  • alliteration, assonance, rhythm, rhyme
  • the forms and functions of non-verbal aspects of speech
Lexical-semantic:
  • denotational and connotational meaning, figurative language, structural semantics (semantic fields, synonyms, antonyms, hypernyms, hyponyms), jargon, levels of formality
Grammatical:
  • nouns: proper/common; singular/plural; concrete/abstract
  • adjectives: comparative/superlative; attributive/predicative
  • adverbs: manner, place, direction, time, duration, frequency, degree, sentence
  • verbs: infinitive; mood (imperative/interrogative/declarative/exclamative); main/auxiliary/modal auxiliaries; present and past participles; person; tense; voice; aspect (progressive/perfective),
  • pronouns: personal (person, number and function); interrogative; demonstrative
  • prepositions
  • determiners: definite/indefinite articles; demonstrative adjectives; numerals
  • conjunctions: co-ordinating, sub-ordinating
  • sentence functions: statement, command, question, exclamations
  • sentence types: minor, simple, compound, complex, compound-complex
  • clause types: main, sub-ordinate, co-ordinate
  • clause elements: subject, verb, object, complement, adverbials
Textual:
  • text structures
  • cohesion (lexical, grammatical and graphological)
  • the forms and functions of graphological features of texts
  • discourse features of texts (eg speaker switches and the management of turn-taking; the nature and purpose of feedback)

Language Development

For this topic candidates should study how children go through the initial phases of language acquisition and how they develop writing skills.

Candidates should study:

  • the functions of children's language
  • the development of phonological and pragmatic competence, lexis, grammar and semantics
  • the relationship between children's spoken and written language
  • the development of the conventions of writing and multimodal texts
  • theories about language development: imitation, innateness, cognition, input, socio-cultural, genre theory.

The format of the question paper

The unit is divided into two sections:

  • Section A Language and Mode
  • Section B Language Development

Candidates will answer two questions in total. They will answer one question from Section A and one from Section B.

In Section A there will be one question. In Section B there will be a choice of two questions. One question will be set on initial language acquisition and one will be set on children's development of writing.

The unit allows 30 minutes for the reading and preparation of the data to be analysed in answering Section A and B. It is recommended that candidates then spend 45 minutes writing their Section A answer and 45 minutes writing their Section B answer.

Section A: Language and Mode

Candidates will be required to write an analysis of two texts for comparison.

 The texts may be:

  • written, spoken, electronic
  • planned or unprepared
  • monologue or dialogue.

Candidates will be asked to

  • analyse how the texts' language is affected by their mode and context
  • how the texts convey meanings.

Section B: Language Development

This section tests candidates' ability to engage with some important issues about the use of written and spoken language.

Candidates will write an essay on one of two topics:

  • initial language acquisition

or

  • children's writing.

One question will be set on each of the topics. The question will be divided into two parts to scaffold candidates' answers. Candidates will be asked to:

  • comment linguistically on a small piece of data from children's speech or writing
  • write discursively in response to an essay cue question based on issues raised by the data.

Unit 2 - Representation and Language

Introduction

This coursework unit is designed to develop candidates' ability to write for specific audiences and purposes and to explore the key ideas of representation and ideology. It draws on the key concepts of use-related variation, and develops their ability to use linguistic frameworks to analyse and interpret language in use.

In the unit candidates will produce creative and analytical work linked by the issues of how texts produce representations of people, institutions and events, and help to produce, reproduce or challenge social values and attitudes.

Investigating representations

For the Investigation task candidates should investigate how texts might produce social values and how they might contribute to maintaining or changing values.

Candidates may study texts used to represent:

  • social groups (eg according to gender, ethnicity, disability, sexuality, age, class)
  • individuals (eg a celebrity)
  • events and issues (eg a war, death, work)
  • institutions (eg the monarchy).

Work should focus on how lexis, grammar, semantics and discourse structure in individual texts produce representations. Candidates will need to use the linguistic frameworks developed in unit 1 to carry out a critical discourse analysis.

Candidates should explore the texts':

  • purposes
  • construction of an author identity
  • construction and positioning of an ideal reader and the shaping of response
  • representation
  • possible actual audience and interpretations
  • genre.

Producing representations

For the production task candidates should explore how to write in order to make a positive intervention in discourses about:

  • a social group (eg according to gender, ethnicity,disability, sexuality, age, class)
  • an individual (eg a celebrity)
  • an event or issue (eg a war, death, work)
  • an institution (eg the monarchy).

This work should draw on the knowledge about textual representations developed in the investigation coursework.

For the production task candidates may explore writing in a wide variety of genres for different audiences and purposes in order further to understand use-related variation. The key concepts in negotiating this task are the following elements of context:

  • audience
  • purpose
  • field
  • mode
  • genre.

Candidates may write in literary and non-literary forms

Coursework Piece 1: Investigation

Candidates should analyse between three and five texts (which may be extracts from longer texts).

 There should be a temporal relationship between the texts. An investigation may focus on a number of texts:

  • produced at the same time (eg surveying newspaper articles published on the same day)
  • evolving over times (eg a news story spanning a period of time)
  • produced at different times (eg texts produced in the1950s, 1970s and the 21st century).

The analysis should be 1000 – 1500 words long. Copies of the analysed text should be presented with it.

Coursework Piece 2: Production

Candidates should produce one text of 600 words.

 The text should have a clear genre other than an academic one such as an essay. The intended audience, purpose and place of publication should be specified as much as is appropriate to the genre. Genres may be literary or non-literary.

The text should be written to produce or challenge a particular representation of a social group, individual, event or institution.

The text should be accompanied by a 400 word commentary justifying the intended representation and explaining how it has been achieved.

Tasks, Marks and Weightings

Question Length AO1 AO2 AO3 AO4 Total
1. Language
Investigation
1000 –
1500
words
  10
(6.7%)
     20
(13.3%)
    30
(20%)
2. Language
Production and
Commentary
600 plus
400 words
        30
(20%)
  30
(20%)
AS Unit Total 2000 -
2500
  10
(6.7%)
     20
(13.3%)
  30
(20%)
  60
(40%)
A-level Total   (3.3%)   (6.7%) (10%) (20%)

Unit 2 Coursework: Representation Investigation

Mark AO1: Select and apply a range
of linguistic methods, to
communicate relevant knowledge
using appropriate terminology
and coherent, accurate written
expression
(Award a mark out of 10)
Mark AO3: Analyse and evaluate the
influence of contextual factors on
the production and reception of
spoken and written language
(Award a mark out of 20)
9-10

Uses sophisticated and demanding
linguistic terms with rare mistakes.
Guides reader structurally and
stylistically.
Makes very few technical errors. 

Candidates are likely to describe:

  • sentence types, clauses and clause elements
  • pragmatic features
  • structural features
  • types of turn.
17-20

Makes close detailed points drawing
on and integrating various aspects of
description.
Engages perceptively with texts'
meanings, purposes and effects.

Candidates are likely to explore:

  • sentence and clause effects
  • communicative strategies
  • processes of nominalisation and transitivity
  • conceptualised techniques/issues/   representations.
7-8

Uses a range of linguistic terms or in
some depth with occasional errors.
Develops a line of argument in controlled
linguistic register.
Shows firm control of technical
accuracy.

Candidates are likely to describe:

  • types of nouns, adjectives, adverbs
  • verb tenses, aspect, voice, modality
  • interactive features.
13-16

Analyses context's influence and
interprets texts' communicative intent
clearly and in detail.

Candidates are likely to analyse:

  • particular effects, representations, views and attitudes
  • representations of processes and circumstances.
5-6

Uses linguistic terms consistently and
largely accurately.
Communicates clearly with clear topics
and paragraphs.
Makes infrequent technical errors.

Candidates are likely to describe:

  • word classes: adjectives, verbs, adverbs, conjunctions
  • sentence functions.
9-12

Understands effect of context and what
texts are trying to communicate.

Candidates are likely to analyse:

  • meanings of word choices
  • representation of participants
  • relational aspects of the text -   positioning of ideal reader.
4

Begins to use linguistic terms but with
some errors.
Expresses ideas with organisation
emerging.
Occasional technical errors.

Candidates are likely to label:

  • pronouns precisely
  • some phonological features
  • some lexical-semantic features.
7-8

Shows awareness of effect of context.
Begins to interpret what texts are trying
to communicate.

Candidates are likely to explain:

  • address
  • topics, meanings and attitudes broadly.
3 Attempts to use linguistic terms with
occasional accuracy of description.
Conveys basic ideas with some
organisation.
Frequent errors.

Candidates are likely to identify :

  • graphology/complexity/formality.
5-6

Identifies some features of language
variation.
Has broad awareness that context has influenced language use.

Candidates are likely to:

  • identify functions and audience broadly.
2 Attempts to use frameworks with
minimal accuracy achieved or quotes
judiciously without linguistic description.
Makes basic errors that intrude on
communication.
3-4

Gives simple/generalised/descriptive
accounts of the content of texts.
Candidates are likely to:

  • give well selected but unanalysed quotations.
1 Rarely quotes or refers to the language
of the text(s).
Has major flaws in language that impede
communication.
1-2 Misunderstands audience/purpose/
context/content/meaning significantly.
0 Does not communicate. 0 Does not comment on the texts.

Unit 2 Coursework: Representation Production

Mark AO4: Demonstrate expertise and creativity in the use of English in a range of different
contexts, informed by linguistic study
  A Form and Content B Style and Structure C Commentary
9-10
  • Uses form in original   and innovative ways as   appropriate.
  • Provides interesting and engaging content for   audience, addressing their situation and interests.
  • Creates challenging and detailed representations.
  • Makes judicious choices –   creative and stylish.
  • Makes rare errors.
  • Writes appropriately,   controlling vocabulary and   syntax.
  • Guides reader.
  • Uses cohesion well to link    topics and sections.
  • Concludes effectively.
  • Justifies representations  and places in wider contexts.
  • Shows insight about the   construction of meaning.
  • Explores effects of  sentence and clause structure and patterns on  representation.
7-8
  • Controls form, paying attention to genre and needs of audience.
  • Uses appropriate content to produce a detailed representation suited for context.
  • Uses and sustains effective style.
  • Firm control of accuracy.
  • Uses language with precision and clarity.
  • Develops a line of thought.
  • Effective opening and introduction.
  • Shows understanding of representation issues.
  • Analyses language choices.
  • Makes detailed comments about the representational effects of word class choices, eg tenses, modality, adverb types, adjective types, noun types.
5-6
  • Handles form competently, showing knowledge of requirements and  conventions.
  • Produces a developed and convincing representation.
  • Begins to make stylistic  choices for effect.
  • Infrequent technical errors.
  • Addresses the audience appropriately.
  • Conveys ideas clearly.
  • Develops and organises content.
  • Explains intentions with regard to representation.
  • Interprets some language choices.
  • Comments on use of eg nouns, adjectives, verbs and adverbs and how they represent the subject matter.
4
  • Uses clear structural elements.
  • Employs basic features of the form.
  • Produces a text that is inconsistent in representation.
  • Language reflects  audience/purpose/genre.
  • Makes occasional errors.
  • Uses some appropriate style for context.
  • Uses clear topics.
  • Explains some language choices.
  • Covers content unevenly.
  • Discusses matters of address to audience.
  • Discusses pronouns and sentence functions.
3
  • Shows awareness of textual structures and formal conventions but with weak control of formal principles.
  • Shows awareness of form.
  • Relies heavily on sources and stereotypes.
  • Modifies language for audience and purpose.
  • Makes frequent errors.
  • Shows some awareness of necessary style.
  • Achieves basic control and organising of content.
  • Shows limited awareness of representation issues.
  • Identifies features of style with limited comment or focus.
  • Makes broad comments about access, formality, complexity.
2
  • Realises formal conventions in a basic way.
  • Content is developed without clear representation focus.
  • Uses a general style with broad shaping for audience and purpose.
  • Makes intrusive basic errors.
  • Uses simple structural features: paragraphed.
  • Paraphrases or describes content.
1
  • Misjudges form.
  • Writes a short and fragmentary text.
  • Has major language flaws: communication impeded.
  • Uses inappropriate style.
  • Describes nature of text at a broad level.
0
  • Has no sense of form or shaping of material.
  • Does not produce a focussed representation.
  • Fails to communicate.
  • Makes no comments on work.

Unit 3 - Language Explorations

Introduction

This unit is designed to introduce candidates to the wider study of language in society. After the AS units which focussed on language in its immediate contexts (use-related variation according to subject, purpose, audience, genre and mode), this unit places language in its wider geographical, social and temporal contexts.

Candidates will study how and why language changes and varies. They will learn to describe, explain and evaluate variation in both spoken and written language, showing the effects of historical, geographical, social and personal factors. Candidates will be expected to be familiar with major research and ideas in these areas. They will also need to show understanding of popular and academic explanations, attitudes and views concerning language variation and change. Candidates will also be expected to show knowledge of methodological issues linked to these explanations and views.

The unit is also designed to be synoptic. It will test candidates' acquired ability to analyse and evaluate spoken and written language in both their immediate and wider contexts. They will study the nature of language in use but also the ways in which ideas about language are created and constituted.

Section A: Language Variation and Change

For Section A, Language Variation and Change, candidates should study:

  • language variation: regional, social (ie according to age, gender, class, ethnicity, groups) and international (English as a world language)
  • standard and vernacular dialects and accents
  • the distinctive phonological, lexical and grammatical features of regional and social varieties
  • the causes of social and regional variation
  • effects of age, gender, group membership, social class and social context on language variation
  • attitudes to variation and standard and vernacular varieties
  • debates about the role of standard and vernacular varieties in education
  • methodologies for the study of language variation
  • theories and explanations of language variation (eg status vs solidarity explanations of accent variation; dominance, difference and diversity approaches to gender and interaction)
  • descriptivist and prescriptivist approaches to language study
  • language change from 1600 onwards
  • the causes of change in language
  • effects of age, gender, group membership, social class and social context on language change
  • language change and social values (eg the PC debate)
  • theories about the nature and causes of change (eg internal vs external)
  • attitudes to language change
  • methodologies for the study of language change.

Section B: Language Discourses

For Section B, Language Discourses, candidates should study discourses about:

  • international, regional and social accents and dialects
  • language change
  • gender and interaction
  • political correctness.

Candidates should study a range of popular texts aimed at a non-linguistic audience which discuss language topics and issues. They should be able to analyse how the writers use language to convey their ideas about language. Candidates will need to evaluate both the ideas and how they are presented.

Format of the question paper

The format of the question paper:

The unit is divided into two sections:

  • Section A Language Variation and Change
  • Section B Language Discourses

Candidates will answer two questions in total. They will answer one question from Section A and one from Section B.

In Section A there will be a choice of two questions;

in Section B there will be one question.

The unit allows 30 minutes for the reading and preparation of the data to be analysed in answering Section A and B. It is recommended that candidates then spend 60 minutes writing their Section A answer and 60 minutes writing their Section B answer.

Section A: Language Variation and Change

Section A is designed to elicit candidates' ability to evaluate ideas and issues about language variation and change by using their knowledge and study and two pieces of data.

The task will be an essay cue requiring the evaluation of a particular idea, proposition or approach regarding language variation and change.

The task will present candidates with two pieces of data. These may be spoken or written texts, word lists, graphical or tabular information about language use or a model representing ideas about language.

Section B: Language Discourses

Section B is designed to elicit candidates' ability to evaluate how language and language issues are debated and represented in society.

The task will present candidates with two passages about a language topic.

Candidates will be given texts about language aimed at a popular, non-linguistic audience and they may be given texts from different times.

The question will ask candidates to:

  • analyse and evaluate how the two texts contribute to a discourse about language, constituting social knowledge about the language issue
  • assess the validity of the views about language in the texts, drawing on their own knowledge and study of language.

Unit 4 - Language Investigations and Interventions

Introduction

This unit is designed to develop candidates' ability to investigate language independently. It enables them to pursue areas of individual interest and to explore methodological issues concerning data collection and analysis.

The unit is also designed to develop candidates' writing skills by requiring them to communicate their linguistic insights and understanding to a non-specialist audience. Candidates are required to use their knowledge and understanding to make an intervention in a linguistic debate.

This unit enables candidates to develop a creative and critical approach to their studies.

The features which distinguish the tasks as coursework assessments are the candidate's:

  • individual identification of a research question and investigation topic
  • individual development and execution of a methodology for data collection and analysis
  • ability to work in greater depth and/or with greater range
  • ability to describe and analyse the sounds of spoken English
  • opportunity to carry out longitudinal and developmental studies
  • explore style models and develop creative skills through a research and drafting process.

Language Investigation

For this unit candidates must carry out an original piece of language research to answer questions they have posed or to test an hypothesis they have generated. The investigation should focus on spoken rather than written language.

For the purposes of the investigation spoken is taken simply to refer to language which is literally intended to be spoken aloud. This definition will therefore include scripted and spontaneous speech.

Candidates are permitted to look at written text if it illuminates a question about spoken language. It would be permissible to study Teletext subtitles as a way of evaluating the access they provide to the spoken dialogue.

Candidates will need to devise a methodology to collect original data to investigate. They will need to evaluate and then apply appropriate linguistic frameworks for analysis. They are also required to integrate reading of appropriate secondary sources to illuminate their investigation.

The content will be defined by the candidate's choice of topic. However they should learn about:

  • the asking of questions and generation of hypotheses about language
  • the formulation of aims and objectives
  • the design of methodologies
  • issues affecting the validity of data and analysis
  • ethical issues
  • data collection
  • data preparation and processing
  • using secondary sources
  • selecting linguistic frameworks for analysis
  • carrying out data analysis
  • drawing conclusions
  • evaluating their investigation methods and conclusions
  • academic referencing.

Format of the Language Investigation

A Language Investigation should contain:

  1. Introduction This should outline the topic and justify its significance. It should clarify what question(s) the investigation explores or the hypothesis it tests. It should place the investigation within a particular area of study and state what levels of language will be explored.
  2. Aims The investigation should clarify what it is trying to find out.
  3. Methodology The investigation should provide an evaluative explanation of how data has been collected and analysed.
  4. Data The data used in the investigation must be presented. Recordings of spoken data must be available.
  5. Analysis The body of the investigation will report the findings of the analysis of the data.
  6. Conclusion The investigation should clarify what has been found out with regard to the aims and question (s) or hypothesis.
  7. Evaluation A brief analysis of the successfulness and validity of the methodology should be presented. It may be appropriate to indicate further research that might be carried out if more time and words were available.
  8. Bibliography A list of primary and secondary sources used in the investigation should be provided using a standard academic format.
  9. Appendices It may be appropriate to submit processed versions of the data to illustrate how analyses have been arrived at.

The investigation should be between 1750-2500 words (excluding data).

Advice on setting Language Investigation assignments

For their investigation candidates may look at a wide variety of types of spoken language. It is vital that an investigation is based on original primary language data. It should not be a survey of academic literature.

When investigating language there are a number of different questions candidates can ask. What are the features of language that are used? What is language used for? Who is using it? How do people feel about it?

These different questions can be summarised by the following main types of investigation:

  1. A Language based investigation: what are the distinctive features of this type of language?
  2. A Function/Use based investigation: what is the language used to do?
  3. An Attitudes based investigation: how do people feel about this language?
  4. A User based investigation: who uses this type of language?

 Candidates will need to decide what kind of data they will need to collect:

Primary language data (spoken language, written language, word lists (eg lists of new words, slang terms etc, pronunciation features)

Secondary language data (attitudes to language, uses of language, views about language)

Comparative, contrastive or longitudinal data.

Sample Assignments:

  • a study of dialect and accent features across three generations in a family
  • a study of figurative language in a politician's speeches
  • a study of attitudes to rising intonation on declaratives
  • a comparison of the language of all male and all female groups in a problem solving activity
  • an evaluation of the access provided to spoken language on television by Teletext subtitles.

Language Intervention

The Language Intervention coursework task is designed to allow candidates to make an informed contribution to social debates about language, communicating their knowledge beyond the confines of their academic discipline.

Candidates must write about a language debate in a particular form for a non-specialist audience.

Candidates should study writing in different forms to inform, argue, instruct and persuade, eg articles, editorials, letters to the editor, scripts. They should study how to transform and represent linguistic ideas for a non-specialist audience.

The topic for the intervention should come from the subject matter studied for Unit 3. Candidates may use any topical language issues that arise during their course to which they want to respond. Candidates should produce one or two texts totalling 1250 words.

Sample Assignments:

  • a feature article in a quality/broadsheet newspaper about whether regional accents and dialect are dying out and whether this matters
  • a feature article in a lifestyle magazine about whether women and men really do use language differently in interaction
  • a script for a radio documentary on Radio 4 about World English, standardisation and fragmentation
  • a webpage for a county council explaining the issues about the words used to refer to people from different social groups and its policy
  • a review of the book Between You And I: A Little Book of Bad English by James Cochrane to appear in a quality newspaper
  • a short story exploring issues about identity and attitudes to accents and dialects
  • an extract for an Usborne children's book about the history of English, focussing on attitudes to language change.

Tasks, Marks and Weightings

TaskLengthAO1AO2AO3AO4Total
1. Language
Investigation
1750 –
2500
words
  10
(3.3%)
  10
(3.3%)
  10
(3.3%)
   30
(10%)
2. Language
Intervention
1250 words     30
(10%)
  30
(10%)
Unit Total/
A-level Total
3000 -
3750
  10
(3.3%)
  10
(3.3%)
  10
(3.3%)
  30
(10%)
  60
(20%)

Assessment of Language Investigation Coursework

Mark AO1: Select and apply
a range of linguistic
methods, to communicate
relevant knowledge using appropriate terminology
and coherent, accurate
written expression
AO2: Demonstrate critical
understanding a range
of concepts and issues
related to the construction
and analysis of meanings
in spoken and written
language
AO3: Analyse and evaluate
the influence of contextual
factors on the production
and reception of spoken
and written language
9-10
  • Applies a sophisticated and searching range of frameworks in depth to
    enhance and illuminate understanding.
  • Clear and accurate description.
  • Perceptive methodology.
  • Evaluates methodology and explores alternative
    avenues of investigation.
  • Guides reader structurally and stylistically.                
  • Makes very few technical errors.             
  • Demonstrates a conceptualised overview of theories and research which informs the investigation.
  • Identifies and challenges standpoints making evaluative comments.                   
  • Demonstrates analytical grasp of how language works across different levels.
  • Places analysis in wider contexts.
  • Shows perceptive/ conceptualised/ illuminating/open-minded approach.
  • Uses interesting and judicious examples and quotation.
  • Evaluates appropriateness/ success.
7-8
  • Applies a relevant range of linguistic frameworks, showing some depth and detail, and with rare errors.
  • Describes significant language features and patterns clearly and accurately.
  • Shows value of linguistic descriptions.
  • Reflects on methodology.
  • Develops a line of argument in a controlled linguistic register.
  • Shows firm control of technical accuracy.
  • Shows depth or range of knowledge and understanding of linguistic concepts, theories and research which underpin investigation.
  • Formulates some overviews of issues raised by data.
  • Analyses language features, their explanatory context and their communicative impact confidently.
  • Makes a subtle interpretation integrating various levels of description.
  • Explores texts' meaning, purpose and effects.
  • Makes evaluative comments which are well supported.
5-6
  • Applies linguistic frameworks consistently and largely accurately.
  • Selects fruitful linguistic approaches.
  • Well focussed aims.
  • Explains and justifies methodology.
  • Communicates clearly with clear topics and paragraphs.
  • Makes infrequent technical errors.
  • Shows detailed knowledge of linguistic ideas, concepts and research.
  • Develops own views on linguistic issues, raised by the data.
  • Shows knowledge of linguistic ideas, concepts and research.
  • Outlines linguistic issues raised by the data.
  • Analyses meanings of a range of language features.
  • Analyses context's influence in detail.
  • Engages with texts' communicative intent.
  • Quotes aptly.
  • Makes some evaluative
    comment tied to textual detail.
4
  • Applies a linguistic framework with some errors.
  • Clarifies some linguistic aims.
  • Describes methodology.
  • Expresses ideas with organisation emerging.
  • Occasional technical
    errors.
  • Reveals familiarity with
    linguistic approaches.
  • Adopts a linguistic approach to the collection and study of data.
  • Makes some use of key issues, eg purpose/field/audience/representation/ text types.
  • Understands effect of context.
  • Illustrates some effects of producer/audience/mode/purpose/field.
  • Begins to interpret what text communicates.
  • Illustrates using quotations.
3
  • Attempts to use linguistic description with occasional accuracy of description.
  • Conveys basic ideas with some organisation.
  • Frequent errors.
  • Shows awareness of linguistic ideas, concepts and approaches.
  • Generates some purposeful discussion.
  • Identifies some features of language variation.
  • Has broad awareness that
  • Context has influenced
    language use.
2
  • Attempts to use frameworks with minimal accuracy achieved or quotes judiciously without linguistic description.
  • Makes basic errors that intrude on communication.
  • Is uncertain about how to carry out linguistic study.
  • Is anecdotal/descriptive with implicit relevance.
  • Gives simple/generalised/
    descriptive accounts of the content of texts and data.
  • Paraphrases. Quotes excessively.
  • Gives well selected but unanalysed quotations.
1
  • Minimal engagement with language of the data.
  • Quotes/refers to data rarely.
  • Has major flaws in language that impede communication.
  • Has little focus on linguistic issues.
  • Engages with content only or other non-linguistic issues.
  • Misunderstands mode/
    purpose/context/ content/meaning significantly.
0
  • Does not communicate.
  • Shows no understanding of anything concerned with the study of language.
  • Does not analyse data.

Assessment of Language Intervention Coursework

Mark AO4: Demonstrate expertise and creativity in the use of English in a range of different
contexts, informed by linguistic study.
  A Form B Style C Content
9-10
  • Uses a demanding form effectively.
  • Is original and innovative as appropriate.
  • Produces a polished and impressive piece.
  • Gives a well shaped and structured tour of issues.                      
  • Demonstrates flair, precision, deftness.
  • Uses technical aspects for stylistic effect.
  • Uses vocabulary and
    syntax subtly to express
    arguments.
  • Combines information,
    argument, with stylishness, wit and playfulness.
  • Uses language to entertain as well as inform and argue.                            
  • Demonstrates a conceptualised overview of theories and research.
  • Analyses and evaluates alternative views.
  • Identifies and challenges standpoints.
  • Adopts an exploratory/
    original/evaluative approach.                
7-8
  • Uses form skilfully and knowledgeably.
  • Guides reader.
  • Shows some ability to innovate/take risks.
  • Links arguments, topics and sections/speakers.
  • Uses cohesion well.
  • Concludes effectively.
  • Pays close attention to the communication of meaning.
  • Makes judicious choices - creative and stylish.
  • Handles complexity and difficulty well.
  • Makes rare technical errors.
  • Writes accessibly, controlling vocabulary/syntax.
  • Argues well-documented viewpoints.
  • Addresses the audience's situation and interests.
  • Communicates nature of debates and issues about language.
  • Identifies different views and interpretations.
  • Comments on others' ideas.
6
  • Shows convincing control of form, paying attention to genre and needs of audience.
  • Develops a line of thought.
  • Effective opening and
    introduction.
  • Uses and sustains effective style.
  • Has firm control of technical accuracy.
  • Addresses the audience appropriately.
  • Uses language effectively to inform.
  • Communicates depth or range of knowledge of linguistic ideas/concepts/
    research.
  • Develops own views on language topic.
  • Communicates detailed linguistic insights about examples of language in use.
5
  • Handles form competently, showing knowledge of requirements and
    conventions.
  • Develops and directs
    content.
  • Begins to make stylistic choices for effect.
  • Makes infrequent technical errors.
  • Works to transform linguistic ideas for audience.
  • Takes some technical features or research for granted.
  • Communicates some knowledge of linguistic ideas, concepts and research.
  • Outlines views on language topic.
  • Comments on how language is used.
4
  • Uses clear structural elements.
  • Employs basic handling of the form.
  • Uses clear topics.
  • Language reflects audience/purpose/genre.
  • Makes occasional errors.
  • Uses some appropriate style for context.
  • Recognises need to use a linguistic register.
  • Shows familiarity with linguistic ideas, concepts and research.
  • Makes sustained explanation of how language is used.
3
  • Shows awareness of textual structures/conventions but with weak control of formal principles.
  • Shows awareness of form.
  • Achieves basic control and organising of content.
  • Modifies language for
    audience and purpose.
  • Makes frequent errors.
  • Shows some awareness of necessary style.
  • Uses frequent overly academic elements.
  • Shows awareness of linguistic ideas, concepts and research.
2
  • Uses simple organisational features: paragraphed.
  • Realises conventions in a basic way.
  • Writes an essay.
  • Uses a general style with broad shaping for audience and purpose.
  • Makes intrusive basic errors.
  • Uses a consistently academic style.
  • Writes anecdotally with implicit relevance.
1
  • Misjudges form.
  • Writes a short and fragmentary text.
  • Has major language flaws: communication impeded.
  • Uses inappropriate style.
  • Achieves little focus on linguistic issues.
0
  • Has no sense of form or shaping of material.
  • Fails to communicate.
  • Shows no understanding of anything concerned with the study of language.