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A level literature for the first time

Discussion in 'English' started by readingsez78, May 28, 2011.

  1. Hiya I'm teaching a level lit and probably Lang for the first time from sept and wanted to pick your brains.
    What are the best resources, tricks of the trade, further reading etc to get me prepared?
    Cheers for the help
  2. Knowing your texts really thoroughly is the most important tool for English Lit, so make sure you read them inside out and backside foremost over the summer. Read for pleasure first, without even thinking of teaching them; then read with the students in mind. Make yourself familiar with the AOs and level descriptors in your syllabus. Look at the past papers to see what sort of questions your board sets. If you have access to Literature Guides such as York Advanced Notes, read them AFTER you have read the texts and have come up with your own ideas - and <u>use the notes just as a springboard</u>. They're helpful, especially with texts that are new to you, but they are not enough on their own.
    I find it useful to read aloud to the class (especially when I have students I just know are not going to read the texts themselves!) - this exercise really focuses your own mind as you have to read every word, and things will spring out which may not in silent reading.
    The jump from the spoonfeeding of GCSE is a big one, and they'll have forgotten a lot over the hols! I have found that, with many weaker candidates, taking a week to look at study skills/knowledge specific to English is useful - for example, formal essay structure, the difference between argument essays and discursive essays, figures of speech. Impress upon the students the need to do some background reading.
    A reading/viewing list is useful. I mean one listing books and films to which you might allude under the impression that they were general knowledge, things everybody's read/watched. it sometimes seems that there isn't a sixteen-year-old on the planet who's watched a film from before they were six. I can't have been like that, can I?!
    If you get to teach texts you really like you're well away because your enthusiasm for them will inform your teaching and enthuse the kids - as always.
    I do hope this doesn't read like teaching you to suck eggs.
  3. which board? which texts? ...
  4. I can highly recommend the English and Media Centre's guide to Studying Narrative, as the AQA B spec does invite reading in a way that is quite different to GCSE. The Cambridge Companion to Narrative is good, but it is mostly at too high a level for AS students. It does have good chapters on character in narrative and the rhetoric of narrative, though.

    In terms of thinking about set texts, I would familiarise yourself with the principles of narrative before you start making notes, as the traditional 'lit-crit' approach with which you're probably most familiar will not cover the ground the board wants students to think about. I don't know which set texts you'll look at (the selection is broad and pretty good), but 'Enduring Love' is a good novel which really invites readers to think about how stories are told. I've taught it, Gatsby, the Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Hardy in the past, and enjoyed all of them. I've always wanted to teach Browning, but colleagues always snaffle him up before I can get a word in - he's another good writer to invite you to think about narrators and voices. Lastly, 99 Ways to Tell a Story is a brilliant introduction to narrative, genre, framing, structure &c &c, and all in comic-book form.

    As to tragedy, I've found 'Othello' a good play to use for Shakespeare: it's a good step up from GCSE. I find it really helpful to watch a good performance (the Globe Theatre version, with Tim McInnery as Iago is great). Reading round the class is something I'd recommend for key scenes that you might want them to write about; time spent on planning and organising essays is important for this unit, and, as they've only 1500 words to get their point across, exhaustive analysis of every last bit of the play will be of little use to the class as a whole. Lastly, I recommend giving your students a list of questions - half a dozen or so - and getting them to choose their own coursework title. It makes them think a bit more, and allows for more interesting individual tutorials later in the coursework phase.

    Does this help? Please contact me if you want any other tips or advice.
  5. Wow gingerburn that is so helpful. I can't thank you enough.
    I'll get started with yours and Josephines suggestions and then
    I'll get back to you when I'm stuck again if that's ok.
    I've been teaching for 8 years and I feel like an Nqt again.
    Quite enjoying get stuck in though x

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