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Glossary of Frequently Used GCSE English Terms for Teachers and Students

Chris Barcock | Monday June 09, 2014


What follows is a list of the more frequently used terms in the four awarding authorities’ documentation for the current GCSE specifications. It is not (and probably could not be) completely inclusive. The references to literary critical terminology are a best fit and others may well see and use terms other than those included here more frequently.

So this is a list to customize and to add to as our experiences of teaching and assessing the courses expands and develops. It is essential to understand that although it is important to understand these terms and possess a rich critical vocabulary it is even more important to explain in a response how these terms are used and to what effect.

  • alliteration is derived from Latin’s “Latira?. It means “letters of alphabet?. It is a stylistic device in which a number of words, having the same first consonant sound, occur close together in a series. Owen: ‘the stuttering rifles’ rapid rattle’
  • analyse is ‘examine in detail’: ‘break down in order to bring out the essential elements and/ or structure’. Here both, of course. In OFQUAL’s words ‘make linkages between writing and its results that are complex and detailed.’
  • antithesis: opposition; contrast: the antithesis of right and wrong. The direct opposite (usually followed by of or to): her behaviour was the very antithesis of cowardly. The placing of a sentence or one of its parts against another to which it is opposed for a balanced contrast of ideas, as in “Give me liberty or give me death.?
  • appropriate: suitable, relevant, usually to do with making the right supporting references to text to justify what is said.
  • apt: as for appropriate.
  • assonance: takes place when two or more words close to one another repeat the same vowel sound but start with different consonant sounds.
  • assured: confident, convinced.
  • balanced: both sides of a question/ issue/ statement have been considered in something approaching equal...

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