31 May 2013

How Do Writers Use Language? GCSE and IGCSE Language Exam

If you have your GCSE Language Exam or mock coming up, you need to read this. The language question is the one that students do worst on. So what can you do to improve?

1. Quote - focus on the key words that create the strongest effects on the reader. The skill is to be able to pick these out quickly. Use a highlighter. Don't think - 'is it a metaphor/simile/personification?' Think - is it a key mood word - is it an important idea?

2. Explain the effect that these words or phrases create in context. e.g. if the word is 'heaven' - think about why it's been used in this place. Are there other words that link to it or contrast with it? Are there interesting juxtapositions, antithesis - does the idea develop or change in an interesting way?

3. Explain connotations.

4. Mention any language techniques. This link includes model answers as well as definitions, with links to fuller explanations. Go get it!

Now for the best bit: answers to the language question as written by a senior examiner, Beverley Emm - to show you what to do, and what not to do. These examples are specific to Question Four for AQA English Language Higher Tier.
Band 1 (roughly F-G)
the writer uses descriptive language such as ‘paradise’
Band 2 (roughly D-E)
the writer uses descriptive anguage such as ‘paradise’ to show how beautiful the valley is. this is better, but the student has still included no context.
Band 3 (roughly B-C)
the writer uses descriptive language such as ‘paradise’ to show how beautiful the valley is. The words suggests that after walking for so long in the frozen snow, the characters have stumbled on a place that makes them feel confident they’ll be rescued.
Band 4 (roughly equivalent to A-A*)
the writer uses descriptive language such as ‘paradise’ to show how beautiful the valley is. The words suggests that after walking for so long in the frozen snow, the characters have stumbled on a place that feels like heaven which makes them feel confident they’ll be rescued. The religious metaphor is continued with the words ‘blessed valley’ and ‘garden of eden’ the writer’s choice of language is almost suggesting a miracle has happened: the hand of god or some form of higher being has led them to this divine place and salvation.