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Literature specialist teaching A-Level Language

Discussion in 'English' started by musicaljim, Sep 17, 2015.

  1. musicaljim

    musicaljim New commenter

    Hi all,

    I'm looking for general advice if anyone's able to give any! I've been given A-Level English Language to run this year, despite never having studied it and being a literature specialist. This is my school's first year teaching any A-levels, so there's no one around to talk to about this...

    Basically, my first couple of week's lessons haven't gone very well. I think I may be pitching things too high. As a summary, I decided to do a unit on language and humour to get into concepts such as lexis, grammar, semantics etc. The students are complaining that they're finding it too hard. I think it's relatively straightforward and have made it clear that I'm not expecting miracles, but that there's a big jump between GCSE and A-level studies and it is generally much tougher. I've used a number of different transcripts such as Monty Python, Eddie Izzard, Mrs Brown's Boys and then real life stuff in interviews, humour in social groups etc, but they're really struggling with applying technical terminology and applying the learning from previous sessions.

    I'm a Lead Practitioner and I help to develop teaching and learning across the whole school, so I'm experienced and have taught a number of new subjects in different contexts over the years. I've never struggled so much before!

    Any advice on what might work to help the students access the subject would be lovely, as would any comments about whether students generally find the move to A-Level language so tricky.

    Thanks in advance,

  2. themidlander

    themidlander New commenter

    Do a week on each of the aspects of language Phonology, Grammar, Pragmatics,Semantics, Graphology, Discourse Structure and Lexis. Essentially a 6-7 week scheme with some practice questions each week depending on which spec.

    Jumping into humour is quite tricky as pragmatics of comedy is a tricky thing to pick before you know about the others. David Crystal's texts are useful for transcripts as is A Concise Grammar for English Language teachers for dealing with Grammar fundamentals.

    Many students I taught picked English as a last choice for A-level because it was perhaps easier for them at GCSE and it was the one they could drop. You have to bully them into revising outside too and provide revision materials on a VLE so you can cover yourself about them not revising the terms for each aspect of Language

    Good luck!

    Another Jim
  3. musicaljim

    musicaljim New commenter

    Thanks for this; really helpful. I'd come to the conclusion that humour wasn't working, but due to my own developing subject knowledge I wasn't too sure why. I've decided to focus on different aspects of analysis as you suggest and focus more on real-life transcripts and data.

    Many thanks again.
  4. VeronicAmb

    VeronicAmb Occasional commenter

    I agree. Starting with humour wasn't the best idea. I know each spec is different, but pragmatics is usually an A2 topic, rather than an AS.

    As the other person said, start with the basic topics of English Language. I'd start with grammar first as that's usually the stepping stone to language.

    How are you and your class now finding it?

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