We all use language every day, but how many of us stop to think about it?
What could be more fascinating than studying how we communicate? This is the basis of A Level English Language. This A Level subject covers such diverse areas as: regional, international and historical varieties of English; how men and women use language differently; how language is adapted in social situations and occupations; how babies acquire language; etymology (word origins and meaning changes); how the media and technology are shaping modern language use. In addition, it involves the study of an extensive range of spoken and written texts. For example: television drama, stand-up comedy and interview transcripts; blogs; travel writing; recipes; promotional leaflets; newspaper, magazine and online articles; posters; children’s story books and tweets.
English Language A Level builds on the reading and writing skills developed at GCSE but broadens the areas of study. At A Level, spoken language as a means of communication is just as important as the written word; multi-modal language use is also explored. Moreover, there is a coursework element to the A Level (worth 20%) where students investigate a language area of their choice – for example, the language used in tennis commentaries or how the MasterChef hosts use language when judging contestants or investigating the ways political parties represented issues in the 2016 referendum campaign – plus produce creative writing exploring the power of storytelling, persuasion or information.
Students studying English Language at A Level become adept at discussing, critically analysing and evaluating data and language at word, phrase, sentence, paragraph and whole text level. Therefore, as A Level English Language combines such academic, creative and analytical skills, it is highly regarded by universities and employers. There are many careers that may follow from the study of English Language. For example: Publishing, Journalism, Law, Psychology, Advertising, Marketing, Public Relations, Teaching, Politics, Speech Therapy and Media.
English Language links well with other A Level subjects such as Psychology, Sociology, History, Philosophy and Business Studies as well as the Sciences - with English Language at degree level usually described as English Language and Linguistics (Linguistics being the scientific study of language).
“Language is wine upon the lips.” Virginia Woolf
“The word ‘good’ has many meanings. For example, if a man were to shoot his grandmother at a range of five hundred yards, I should call him a good shot, but not necessarily a good man.” G. K. Chesterton
“Language has no independent existence apart from the people who use it. It is not an end in itself; it is a means to an end of understanding who you are and what society is like.” David Crystal