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ENGA1 Seeing Through Language

Beth Kemp | Tuesday August 17, 2010

Categories: Hot Entries, AQA A Level, AQA A Level English Language A, ENGA1


This guide is for teaching ENGA1, the examined unit for the AQA ‘A’ English Language AS specification.

As its title implies, the unit encourages students to look at language differently – far more analytically – than they will have done for their GCSE English work. The final two-hour exam paper tests students on two topics:

‘Language and Mode’

This is a single compulsory question based on two linked unseen texts of different ‘modes’.

‘Language Development’

This asks students to choose between two questions, one based on children’s spoken language and one based on children’s writing. Each question features a small unseen ‘data set’ and an essay question.

Structuring the Teaching


A sensible way of structuring the teaching is to start by ensuring students gain a solid grounding in using the required ‘linguistic frameworks’ and the broad skills of textual analysis – but this will need to include particular emphasis on the concept of mode.

Child language acquisition (CLA) can then follow, using the same framework-based structure to explore examples of children’s language before delving into theories of language acquisition.

For teachers used to the legacy specification, there are some differences:

  1. The focus on mode in the analysis part of the unit: previously, ENA1 had a text to analyse and ENA3, with its focus on speech, had a transcript. In this unit, students need experience of applying their analytical skills to texts in all modes, and need to write explicitly about aspects of mode in much more depth than was previously expected.
  2. The focus on data in the first half of the child language question: previously, ENA1 used essay-based questions, with occasional data prompts. This new unit now requires students to ‘comment linguistically’ on five aspects of language that they find ‘of interest’ in the data – rather like the brief data question on the old synoptic paper ENA6.
  3. The addition...

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