What is AS/A Level English Language?
English Language A/AS Level is an interesting but demanding academic course of study which invites us to explore the many different ways in which language operates. If you are someone who has always enjoyed English and who finds themselves thinking about language; how we learn it as infants, whether males and females use it differently, wondering about word meanings and generally wanting to know more about the central role of language in society, then this is a course to consider. If you are interested in writing as part of a career but you do not want to study English Literature, be advised that reading widely is very important to successful achievement on the course and that creative writing is a minor component.
Is English Language suitable for me?
Different students tend to enjoy different aspects of the course and students often remark on how varied it is. Perhaps the most frequent comment we hear quite early on from new students is, “It’s nothing like English at GCSE.” This is partly because we focus in some detail on topics such as Language Acquisition, where we explore how babies and small children learn to talk, and Representation, where we look at how social groups are depicted through language.
Although many choose the course because of the chance to do their own writing in the second term, they find this perhaps the most demanding part of the course and need to be self-disciplined to complete it successfully.
Discussing our own experience of language and debating about how this corresponds to what the experts have found in their research plays a very large part in what we do. The course encourages students to use their own initiative in choosing areas of personal interest to write about and investigate and this means working independently at times.
How will I learn?
- lessons are student centred with an emphasis on asking questions and exploring issues
- you will look at all aspects of how texts are created and then apply what you have learned to your own text production
- we use games to teach grammar as well as more formal instruction
- lessons often centre on discussion of a text following individual annotation using a systematic framework for analysis
- language is never neutral so debate and argument are frequently a part of our lessons
- we use laptops for text production and in our exploration of the language of ICT
- you will be encouraged to challenge theories and carry out your own research
How will I be assessed?
AS assessment consists of one external exam of 2 hours and one coursework unit:
- Seeing through Language
One Language Analysis task and one Language Issues essay
- Representation and Language
An Investigation of Representation and a language production
A2 Level assessment consists of one external exam of 2 hours and 30 minutes and one coursework unit:
- Language Exploration
One Language Issues task and one Language Discourses analysis
- Language Investigation and Intervention
One Language Investigation and one Language Intervention
There is potential for those wishing to pursue careers or further studies in journalism and education, as well as in many areas of business and management.
More and more universities are offering degree courses in English Language, on its own and combined with other subjects including Linguistics, European or American Studies, most modern languages, English Literature and creative writing.
Students studying a 3 or 4 AS level programme should normally have achieved an average GCSE point score of 5.5 or above and at least a grade C in English (unless specified otherwise). Students with a point score between 4.5 – 5.5 will normally take a mixture of Subsidiary Diplomas and AS levels. You can check your likely GCSE point score by going to 'Choosing the Right Course' on the website and entering your predicted grades.
A grade C in a modern language such as French or Spanish is desirable.
All students will be expected to provide their own textbooks, stationery, computer disks and calculators (where applicable). Any further costs are outlined below:
Essential: £10-20 for booklets and course materials.
Optional: £20 for tapes and trips.
Students are advised of a small number of useful texts to purchase but this is optional.
If the costs of equipment, materials and trips may cause you financial hardship, you may wish to read through details of our financial support scheme on our website.