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GCE EXAMINERS' REPORTS
ENGLISH LANGUAGE
AS/Advanced
SUMMER 2013
© WJEC CBAC Ltd.
Grade boundary information for this subject is available on the WJEC public website at:
https://www.wjecservices.co.uk/MarkToUMS/default.aspx?l=en
Online results analysis
WJEC provides information to examination centres via the WJEC secure website. This is
restricted to centre staff only. Access is granted to centre staff by the Examinations Officer
at the centre.
Annual Statistical Report
The annual Statistical Report (issued in the second half of the Autumn Term) gives overall
outcomes of all examinations administered by WJEC. This will be available at:
http://www.wjec.co.uk/index.php?nav=51
Unit
Page
LG1
1
LG2
4
LG3
7
LG4
10
© WJEC CBAC Ltd.
ENGLISH LANGUAGE
General Certificate of Education
SUMMER 2013
Advanced Subsidiary
LG1: Introduction to the Language of Texts
Principal Examiner:
Martin Stafford
This unit was approached successfully by the vast majority of the candidates who attempted it.
The texts used offered enough challenge for the most able to demonstrate their abilities with
many writing exceptionally well in a way that showed enthusiastic engagement with the topics
discussed, but less able candidates were still able to approach them with enough confidence to
make valid observations about the language choices made and effects achieved. Most answers
revealed a cohort that was familiar with the necessary approach to the questions and able to
produce insightful and well-expressed answers.
Section A: The Language of Texts
Candidates were asked to discuss two news reports concerning episodes of street violence; the
riots of the summer of 2011 and the fights between gangs of Mods and Rockers in the summer of
1964. The main focus was to discuss the ways in which language is used to present the
participants and the events described.
While there were still a minority of answers that opened with broad, descriptive introductions
making generalised observations about genre and audience, many candidates made good use of
their opening paragraphs to show a genuinely contextualised overview, often making valid points
about the rather sensational presentation of the rioters in text A and comparing it to the rather
demeaning or belittling nature of the depiction of the Mods and Rockers in text B. Some
candidates did, however, go into great detail about the demographic of the Daily Mail’s audience
without relating it to specific features of language and attempted to do the same about The
Glasgow Herald in 1964 by extrapolating from the formality of the text; this was often unconvincing.
Others simply repeated, verbatim, the information provided on the examination paper.
Similarly, the majority of candidates made relevant and precise comparisons between the texts
focusing on specific features of language or on comparable or contrasting stylistic effects. Some
very insightful comments were made about the contrasting uses of direct speech in both texts and
some of the more able candidates were able to discuss the effect on the depiction of the events
described by the writers’ use of passive voice. However, there is still a tendency amongst a
minority of candidates to conclude their answers with a comparison paragraph that is often a
simple re-statement of points already made without the use of terminology or supporting quotation.
Amongst such answers, it was common for candidates to rely on non-linguistic comparisons of
topic observing that, while Text A focused on events, Text B focused on punishments, without any
use of terminology or examples.
As ever, the majority of candidates were able to discuss a wide range of the features of the texts
using precise linguistic terminology. The vast majority had clearly been taught to use the
opportunity of the exam to show off the range and depth of their knowledge by analysing at word,
phrase, clause and sentence level and commenting on imagery, formality and mood. However, a
common problem with weaker answers was to use rather vague or generic descriptions in place of
precise linguistic terminology. Examples of this included ‘journalese,’ ‘subheading’ and ‘emotive
language.’ All of these are valid things to discuss but do not replace linguistic terminology.
© WJEC CBAC Ltd.
1
Many candidates made excellent points about the writers’ use of Standard and Non-standard
English, especially in text A and commented effectively on the impression that this gave of the
rioters who were quoted. In attempting to comment on these features, some weaker candidates
confused direct speech and first person narrative voice, often using these terms as synonyms.
Weaker answers also often gave some poorly chosen examples when discussing formality,
seeming to confuse emotively loaded language choices with informal language. Examples
offered as informal included ‘smashed,’ ‘looters,’ ‘thugs’ and ‘raided.’
A similar flaw in a number of weaker essays included the questionable use of ‘hyperbole’ to
describe anything dramatic or shocking including almost any use of numbers. As the phrase
‘more than 1,000 incidents’ is offered in the text as factual, it is not appropriate to describe it as
‘hyperbole.’
Most answers reflected the fact that candidates had been taught to focus their analysis of
language choices on the audiences’ perceptions of the events related in the texts. There was
much impressive discussion of animal imagery in both texts, of prepositional phrases to convey
the scale of the disturbances and of the connotations of verbs chosen to convey violence and
disapproval. Weaker candidates, however, tended to make rather broad or vague comments
which, while often true, did not allow them to score as well as more specific analyses. Some
candidates explained that a choice had been made in order to ‘create imagery’ or ‘add detail’ but
did not specify what the image created or detail added actually was or to what effect. Others
observed that a feature was employed ‘for emphasis’ without further development. Also common
was for candidates to confuse ‘emphasis’ and ‘exaggeration.’
The range of well-structured and well-expressed answers submitted was impressive but it is
worth reminding future cohorts of the benefits of precise, sufficient and relevant quotation. In
some weaker answers, rather extensive claims were made about single-word quotations. For
example, a number of candidates claimed that ‘us’ or ‘we’ conveyed the vast number of the
rioters, their organised nature and their pride in their actions. While all of these claims are
relevant and supportable, they are not conveyed by a single pronoun quoted out of context.
Another common structural weakness concerning quotation was an apparent mismatch between
the claim made and the quotation used to support it. Usually the claim itself was entirely valid
but suggested that the candidate had lost track of the argument being made. For example, the
noun ‘thugs’ might be claimed to convey the unity and common purpose of the Brighton mods.
This is by no means an unreasonable point to be made about the text but it is not supported by
the quotation offered to support it.
The differing publication dates of the two texts offered very few problems to most candidates and
many did not refer to this fact at all without detriment to their answer. However, their differing
ages did lead to some candidates making rather dubious contextual claims. Some believed that
Britain in the 60s was a far more violent place than it was in 2011 while others claimed the
opposite. A few believed that words in the older text with which they were not familiar must be
archaic. Others claimed that violence was a problem particular to either Manchester or Brighton
and that such events were commonplace.
A number of common expression errors may also be worth discussing with future candidates
when preparing for this examination. It was quite common for candidates to refer not to ‘a shock’
but instead to ‘a shock factor.’ The verb ‘gotten’ is still common, ‘quote’ as a noun seems now to
be near-universal and ‘bias’ is frequently used as an adjective. Also common is the use of
‘phased’ as a synonym for ‘adversely affected’ as in ‘they aren’t phased by it.’
© WJEC CBAC Ltd.
2
Section B: Language Focus
Section B required candidates to analyse ‘A short history of Cardiff,’ an extract from the
Cardiff Local pages of The Guardian’s website which was an overview of the city by the poet
and writer Peter Finch. Candidates were asked to focus on the writer’s attitudes to the city,
the language choices used to convey enthusiasm and how the writer suggests the idea of
change.
Most candidates again proved themselves to be very well prepared when approaching
question 2. The vast majority are clearly aware of the need to focus fully on the aspects of
the text specified in the question and to use the limited time available to best effect.
Given the time constraints under which candidates are working when answering this
question, most candidates sensibly followed previous advice by including either a very brief
introductory paragraph or omitting an introduction altogether and starting immediately with
focussed analysis. However, a minority persist in writing lengthy, generalised discussions of
genre, audience and purpose or an outline of their expectations of the text which do not use
terminology or quotations and which do not address the focus of the question.
Similarly, a small minority of candidates persist in writing admirably focussed answers but
without making adequate use of linguistic terminology. AO1, under which knowledge and
use of terminology are assessed, is worth 50% of the marks in this question. Others
continue to focus their discussion on assessing which aspects of the text are fact and which
are opinion.
There was a great deal of sensible discussion of the use of patterning in the text with many
candidates commenting on the effectiveness of fronting the proper noun ‘Cardiff’ followed by
listing structures as a method of conveying the writer’s enthusiasm for the range of attractive
features in the city. The most able also discussed the elements of irony or bathos in these
lists. Confusion between syndetic and asyndetic listing remains a problem for some
candidates and a number of candidates incorrectly described minor sentences as simple.
Many candidates made strong, focused comments on the use of hypophora in the text as a
method Finch employed to convey his attitudes to Cardiff but many candidates incorrectly
labelled all of the interrogatives in this text ‘rhetorical.’
Another common flaw was some candidates’ assumptions that, as this text has much in
common with conventional travel writing, the focus of the question must be how the writer
encourages people to visit Cardiff. This led them to structure their answer entirely around
this concern.
Other candidates identified relevant aspects of the text, for example the elements of humour
present, but discussed ‘adding humour’ as if it were and end in itself without even implicitly
linking it to the specified focus.
Some features that produced sound, focused analysis from many candidates were the text’s
use of adverbs to suggest change or the writer’s enthusiasm for the improvements made to
the city and his use of the superlative ‘biggest’ which gave rise to some strong discussion of
civic pride or the notion of heritage. However, some candidates did not engage with the
tense of this sentence and so produced less effective answers.
© WJEC CBAC Ltd.
3
ENGLISH LANGUAGE
General Certificate of Education
SUMMER 2013
Advanced Subsidiary
LG2: Original Writing and Exploring Spoken Language
Principal Examiner:
Jane Martin
Candidates again produced a rich variety of pieces for both sections of this module. In the
spirit of the specification, most chose original approaches and had individually researched
and transcribed data, demonstrating that coursework had broadened their studies and
developed independent learning. Effective and sensitive guidance by teachers underpins the
development of the candidates' submission and it was clear to moderators that the majority
of candidates had been well supported and had engaged fully with the work.
Although most centres are thorough in the administration of the submission, a few issues
persist, which cause problems in the moderation and awarding process. There were fewer
discrepancies between the marks on folders and those entered online by centres but these
remain significant. Please can centres double check the addition of the two marks and note
any changes at internal moderation carefully. It is helpful to moderators if a brief explanation
is given where marks on the pieces vary from those on the cover sheet.
Please will centres ensure that the latest cover sheets are downloaded from WJEC website.
These show separate word counts for the piece and commentary for Section A. The word
limits are prescriptive and assessment should stop at the limit plus 10%. For Section A, the
creative piece should be 1,000 words (1100 max), the commentary 750 words (825 max)
and for Section B, 1500 words (1,650 max). Candidates should be advised to develop and
edit their work as closely as possible to these lengths. The requirement to add a cumulative
word count at the bottom of each page has not been observed universally but, where this
has been adopted, it is extremely helpful, not only for assessors and moderators but also for
candidates in structuring their work.
The cover sheet introduces the candidate's folder. It is like a handshake with the reader. As
has been suggested before, if candidates are aware from the outset that they will be
required to detail the genre and title for Section A and the 'chosen area of the media' and
title for Section B, they will be likely to be alert to these choices. Moderators report many
instances of cover sheets not being fully completed or sometimes at odds with the content.
For example, a description of an opening chapter followed by what would seem to be a
complete short story. Please also ensure that sample folders are secured together in the
correct order. A treasury tag is ideal and individual covers are not necessary.
The assessment side of the cover sheet was fully completed in the majority of folders with
summative comments that showed clear understanding and application of the relevant
Assessment Objectives. Annotation on the pieces is also helpful to moderators. On this final
submission, remarks should not be addressed to candidates and errors in spelling,
punctuation and any inappropriate use of terminology should be indicated. Where marking is
purely positive, it is difficult for moderators to see if such errors have been taken into account
in the marks.
© WJEC CBAC Ltd.
4
Section A: Original Writing
Encountering a gamut of imaginative, original and ambitious pieces is one of the joys of
moderating this module. In nearly all, even when the piece was not fully successful, there
were elements to enjoy and reward in the use of language to evoke atmosphere, observe
significant character traits or catch the tenor of credible dialogue.
As always, short stories were the most popular form but the range of genres was wide.
Individuals in adversity and innocence lost were common themes. Chilling dystopias,
terrifying war adventures, emotive tales of domestic abuse and pastiches of 19th century
gothic were all popular but there were also heroic epics and engaging romances. There were
a number of novel extracts, dramatic monologues and a few play scripts. Candidates had
been well guided to read a variety of literary models. These, however, should be seen as
stimuli to the candidate's own creativity and attempting to follow the style of an individual
model in a pastiche can be limiting, especially for weaker candidates.
Many candidates laudably explored ambitious techniques including shifts in viewpoint and
chronology, extended metaphors or untrustworthy narrators. A few descriptive passages
were overwritten, losing narrative credibility and, at times, coherence, but most had a clear
sense of structure and of a reader's needs. Some otherwise effective pieces were marred by
lapses in spelling and expression which further proof-reading might have remedied.
The best commentaries identified and explored the writer's linguistic choices, spending less
time on introductions. The reader is now familiar with the piece and description of the
narrative or characters is redundant. The focus should be on how language has been used
consciously to create specific effects, using linguistic terminology accurately to analyse
contributing details, with brief, apt, supporting quotations.
Section B: Exploring Spoken Language of the Media
The most popular choice was again interviews but from a wide spectrum. The choices here
ranged from chat-shows and celebrity revelations to political confrontations. Extracts from
children's newsreels were contrasted with those for adults. Parliamentary debates,
documentaries, soaps, dramas and films were also represented. The majority of candidates
had been encouraged to follow their interests and centres are to be applauded for managing
such individual variety. One area that was less successful was the use of advertisements as
candidates often struggled to say much about this minimal, highly scripted material.
Most transcripts were competently made by the candidates, using the transcript conventions
for annotations, providing a key and numbering lines. This numbering enables the reader to
check points in context when a quotation is given with a line reference and is very useful. As
previously requested, the transcript should precede the analysis. Most candidates were well
guided in the quantity of data to transcribe but there were instances of unmanageably large
amounts accompanying vague and unfocused analysis. Some candidates downloaded
scripts with standard punctuation which gave little sense of the texture of speech. The
transcript itself is not marked but the insight given by the processes of individually selecting
and accurately transcribing extracts of spoken language illuminates the analysis.
More candidates indicated the focus of their approach in the title, often a precise question
which allowed for a concluding response. Many aspects of language use were considered,
such as status and power, gender, language for children and formality. The best used
theoretical studies to support their observations but there is still a tendency for weaker
candidates to attempt to force often limited data to fit summarised theory, e.g. that men
interrupt women, with little consideration of context.
© WJEC CBAC Ltd.
5
Some Administrative Points
Moderators report that most centres manage the assessment procedure and submission of
samples very well. There are, however, some common issues which cause problems and it
would be appreciated if centres could check that:






Candidates' marks are entered accurately.
Candidates' folders are firmly secured in the correct order:
Cover sheet/ assessment sheet;
Section A with the creative piece preceding the commentary;
Section B with the annotation key and transcript(s) preceding the analysis.
Cover sheets are current, downloaded from the WJEC website
Cover sheets are fully filled in, with the accurate completion of all three word count
boxes and a cumulative total noted on each page.
Every folder has the candidate's and teacher's signature on the declarations.
The required sample folders are sent to the moderator by the due date.
Moderators appreciate the hard work put in by teachers in guiding candidates through the
development of their pieces for this coursework module. The frequently high standard of
linguistic understanding reflects how much candidates gain in producing this substantial
body of work over a sustained period. In the majority of centres, assessment is accurate,
supported by thoughtful and careful annotation and application of the assessment objectives
and band criteria.
© WJEC CBAC Ltd.
6
ENGLISH LANGUAGE
General Certificate of Education
SUMMER 2013
Advanced
LG3: Language Investigation and Writing for Specific Purposes and Audiences
Principal Examiner:
Elizabeth Hughes
It is clear that the majority of centres clearly understand the requirements of this unit and that the
majority of candidates benefit from precise and specific teacher guidance. Very few candidates
failed to show at least some understanding of the assessment objectives and most were able to
understand and apply linguistic theory and terminology both when investigating an area of
language and in their own creative work. The majority of centres continue to allow their candidates
independence when choosing the focus for their language study. This was more evident in
Section B where, on occasions, the same transcript was used by all the centre's candidates. It
was good to note that many candidates are now including a cumulative word count at the bottom
of every page. This is a WJEC requirement and those centres that are still not telling their
candidates to do this, must remember that moderators are instructed not to moderate work that
has exceeded the maximum word counts.
There were very few administrative problems this year and teachers are to be congratulated on
this. However, there were still instances of marks being wrongly totalled or incorrectly entered
online. All centres must ensure that their candidates use the most recent cover sheets. These are
available to download from WJEC website. There were instances when some candidates used
the older versions of the cover sheet, which ask for less detailed information. Annotation was
mostly detailed and very helpful to the moderators in showing how marks had been awarded by
the centre. It is often difficult for a moderator to understand how a candidate has achieved a
specific mark without comments on the piece itself or with merely ticks at the ends of lines.
Summative comments are required on the cover sheet but these do not offer the same insight into
the marking process as formative annotation however brief it may be. Marking was generally
thorough and well judged, although some teachers are not crossing errors whilst others tick every
term whether it is correct or not.
Section A: Language Investigation
Generally, studies showed a real sense of personal engagement and were often enlightening to
read. There are a few points for centres to note though, and it would be useful if these could be
pointed out to candidates. Some candidates are failing to fill in the cover sheets correctly and
there are still instances of areas of language study that do not appear on the prescribed list. This
list is available online in the specification and is unambiguous regarding the areas of language
study that candidates are allowed to focus on. There were also a number of submissions that had
not been proof-read effectively. Centres should guide their candidates to AO1, which is assessed
in this section. 'Coherent, accurate written expression' has to be taken into account when marking
a candidate's work. As in previous years, some candidates seem to have only a vague idea of the
focus of their investigation and offered a descriptive rather than an analytical piece. Others used
much of their word count by setting out the methodology of their investigation. This can easily be
done in a succinct opening paragraph leaving the majority of the study for linguistic analysis.
Finally some of the material used for the basis of the investigation did not always offer the depth
and breadth required by this synoptic unit. For example, only using one or two brief transcripts as
a basis for investigation. This would probably be more appropriate for LG2 Section B: Exploring
Language of the Media.
© WJEC CBAC Ltd.
7
There was much to applaud in this section with a number of very convincing studies. The best
candidates had really stretched themselves with ambitious topics and their writing was
intellectual and academic. Many candidates used YouTube effectively as a way of finding
interesting spoken material to work with. One candidate produced a fascinating study of
Vlogging as an example of Other Englishes. Although gender and politics continue to be the
most explored areas, there was an increased interest in Accent and Dialect this year, with
some very sophisticated transcription of regional dialect for example, produced by the
candidates themselves. Other original studies included looking at Satire and the Alter-Ego and
how autism might affect the development of a child's language. As always there were many
far-ranging studies covering language change over time. The following titles give an indication
as to the diversity in this area:
•
The evolution of language in Batman comics.
•
Chaucer's women linked to the language of contemporary women.
•
The changing language of spoken news reports.
•
Taboo language over time.
•
Language in chocolate advertising over time.
There were some competent studies based on literary texts over time but some were more
focused on the texts themselves rather than on language change.
Section B: Writing for Specific Purposes and Audiences
As in previous years there was an excellent range in this section and generally candidates were
able to recognise and understand the features of their chosen genre and were able to apply and
discuss these competently. Diaries did tend to be rather problematic this year with some
candidates producing pieces that were clearly literary and creative rather than functional. In one
case, a candidate produced a diary for a fictional character from a well-known novel. Diaries are
perfectly acceptable but candidates should opt to write the diary of a well-known non-fictional
figure. It is important for candidates to be able to state what the specific purpose is and who is
the designated audience. Whereas it is sensible for transactional pieces to have a sense of
personal voice, this must be within a factual context. Some centres could have guided their
candidates rather more when describing the genre of their writing e.g. some obituaries would
have been better described as biographical writing or articles and some audio-guides would
have been better described as travel writing. It is important that candidates have a clear
understanding of the genre they have chosen to write in. Some of the podcasts and blogs were
also rather vague regarding specific purpose and audience.
Some of the best pieces were rants, travel writing and reviews with the latter ranging from
book reviews to restaurant reviews. These enabled candidates to write creatively but also with
a clearly defined purpose and audience. Commentaries, on the whole, were well done but a
discrepancy between some candidates' writing and their accompanying commentaries was
sometimes evident. Some candidates did not mention purpose and audience at all whilst
others wrote as if detached from their own writing, sometimes merely offering a description of
the features of their chosen genre. However, it is clear that the majority of candidates are
being well-guided by their centres in this section with some of the better pieces reaching a
professional standard.
© WJEC CBAC Ltd.
8
General Points
•
It is a specification requirement to include meaningful annotation in the body of the work
to indicate to the moderator how marks have been awarded by the centre.
•
Please use the correct cover sheets, which feature a candidate side and a teacher side.
These sheets may be downloaded from WJEC website.
•
Candidates should complete the Assignment Details as precisely but briefly as possible.
It is a requirement that candidates fill in their chosen area of language study from the
prescribed list. The title of each section and the word count for each piece must be
included in all cases.
•
It is a requirement that candidates include a cumulative word count at the foot of each
page.
•
Please ensure that the cover sheets are signed by both the teacher and the candidate.
•
Please assemble the sections in the correct order with the actual investigation placed
first in Section A and the writing followed by the analysis in Section B.
•
Please separate each candidate's work from the rest. A treasury tag is ideal.
•
The sample should be arranged in rank order.
Finally, we would like to congratulate centres for all the hard work they've put into making this
unit so successful. As in previous years, it has been a delight to read the many sophisticated
and engaging folders from your candidates.
© WJEC CBAC Ltd.
9
ENGLISH LANGUAGE
General Certificate of Education
SUMMER 2013
Advanced
LG4: Analysing and Evaluating Language Modes and Contexts
Principal Examiner:
Sara Thorne
Although there were still scripts with a narrow range of knowledge or with little more than a common
sense approach to the texts, many of the responses to this paper showed a good level of language
knowledge and understanding of genre. In some cases, the range of terms used with some
accuracy was limited, but candidates at all levels seemed to be clearly engaging with the material.
The ability to use paragraphs effectively to organise an answer is useful at all levels. A number of
scripts across the bands read more like a list of observations: “The complement …. suggests … The
third person singular pronoun suggests … The co-ordinate conjunction suggests …” While this
approach allows candidates to demonstrate their knowledge, it does not show engagement with the
text. Where there was an effective paragraph structure with clear topic sentences to guide the
reader, candidates were able to combine their knowledge with an exploration of meaning resulting in
personal responses which were a pleasure to read.
There are still, however, cases of overly informal expression, which candidates would be well
advised to avoid: for instance, the sky “put a downer” on the Queen’s coronation and the review of
Cirque du Soleil “positively bigs up the show”. Another expression which occurs pervasively is the
use of “likely” without a following verb: “this is likely due to …” rather than “likely to be due to …” It
would also be good to see candidates more tentative with expressions like “a mass amount of
dynamic verbs”, “a vast amount of adjectives” and “continuous use of fillers” since such claims are
rarely accurate.
In many scripts, there was evidence of candidates being a little more adventurous with linguistic
terminology beyond word classes. Usage was not always accurate, but it was good to see scripts
where the range of terms was extended by references to grammatical mood and phrase types.
Description of noun phrases was often accurate and useful, and on the whole candidates were able
to distinguish between the attributive and predicative use of adjectives. The use of ‘verb phrase’ was
less successful with candidates often referring to any structure with a verb as a verb phrase. It is
better to use this term with specific reference to the predicator in a main or subordinate clause: for
example, flutters, (that) … will … appear, (for which) … have been waiting (Section A, Text A).
Where the verbal group is functioning as a post-modifier (cheering their heads off) or as an adverbial
(riding in the gold coach of state), it is better to use the term ‘non-finite clause’. Above all, candidates
need to remember that if they use the term ‘verb phrase’, they should only quote a verb or a group
of related verbs. Discussion of sentences continues to be rather broad. Candidates often cite no
example to support their point, or copy out a long quotation and describe it as ‘complex’ with little
awareness of the specific structure or of the effect created.
The other term used very loosely was ‘declarative’. In some cases, it was repeated alongside every
quotation cited. This term describes sentence mood and it is not accurate to describe a phrase as
declarative. It was common for candidates to state that declaratives were used so that the writer or
speaker could “communicate information”, but sentences with an expressive or persuasive purpose
are also declarative. Since the majority of sentences and utterances are declarative, it is more fruitful
to discuss any movement away from this grammatical mood – minor sentences/utterances,
imperatives and interrogatives offer far more opportunities for interesting analysis.
© WJEC CBAC Ltd.
10
Section A
Analysis of Spoken Language: Commentaries on Royal Events
Most candidates seemed to enjoy writing about the commentaries. They were clearly wellprepared and recognised key features of the genre. Responses were, on the whole, able to
reflect on the differences between speakers and showed some awareness of differences in
context and the effect this had on the kind of language used. In Section A, it is important to
find a balance between the discussion of spoken features and wider linguistic features. In
some of the weaker responses, candidates spent too long on non-fluency features, but there
were also examples of scripts where candidates explored very few spoken features.
Some candidates obviously missed the opportunity to discuss interactive features and, in a
number of cases, a paragraph listing features that were not present took up valuable time.
There was some sensible discussion of the smooth latch-on between speakers in Text A and
the use of the fronted co-ordinating conjunction to create a seamless transition. Most
candidates recognised the longer pauses as marking something significant occurring on
screen, but few saw the importance of the pauses as a means of communicating the
solemnity of the occasion. In some cases, the number of pauses was even seen as an
example of the commentators’ lack of fluency. It is always important for candidates to
remember that citing a specific example is better than a making a general point since this
allows candidates to demonstrate their knowledge and their understanding of the text. For
example,
There are a number of pauses in this commentary, but they don’t appear to indicate a lack of
fluency, but more so a way of dramatically enhancing the speech. For example, the pauses
in line 13 “in their (.) gorgeous (.) mounted (.) state dress” allow the Commentator to
emphasise the grandeur of the trumpeters.
There was some useful discussion about patterning in each text. Most were able to link this
to the formal context, but some mistakenly saw the repetition of he’s the man who’s … in
Text B as a non-fluency feature, and evidence that Huw Edwards “was not prepared”. There
was a good understanding of the techniques Edwards used to engage his audience, and
candidates wrote sensibly about the rhetorical nature of the question-answer structure
employed by Edwards (described using the classical term hypophora or as completed
adjacency pairs).
Most candidates seemed to feel more comfortable with Text B since it gave them
opportunities for discussing non-fluency features. Most were able to identify examples of
fillers (er, um) and unintentional repetition (it’s it’s), but fewer were secure pinpointing
examples of false starts (around (.) near; where which) and reformulations (looks like a bit of
a crossroads it is a crossroads). Useful discussion of hedges linked the more hesitant
language of Text B with changes in attitudes. However, many candidates saw this as
evidence that Huw Edwards was “unprepared”, “lacked confidence” or “did not respect” the
royal family.
There were fewer extended references to Grice this year, but some candidates spent too
much time on speculations about the gender of the commentators in Text A. The choice of
the adjective “gorgeous” formed the basis for many of the cases put forward: “Lakoff’s theory
suggests that this is a feature that is most commonly used by females”. Other tenuous links
to theory included the “unexpected” use of fillers by a male commentator since “Lakoff would
argue that the use of fillers is a feature of women’s language”; and O’Barr and Atkins’
argument that fillers “indicate a lack of power”. In this context, these arguments are clearly
not valid.
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Some problems with terms:
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phrase – this is still being used as a general term to cover all quotations
corporate ‘we’ – in some contexts, this description of the first person plural pronoun is
useful, but in the texts here a better descriptor would have been ‘inclusive’
vocative – this term was often used inaccurately as an alternative to ‘terms of address’;
vocatives are the names we use to refer to people when speaking directly to them and
there were no examples in Section A
first/second person pronouns – there was significant confusion in labelling basic
pronouns
demonstrative pronouns/determiners – confusion of these terms is widespread, but
candidates should recognise that pronouns stand alone (that’s a good view, Section A
Text B) where a determiner is followed by a noun (that arch, Section A Text A)
possessive pronouns/determiners – cause similar problems
present progressive/present continuous – this grammatical structure consists of ‘to be + ing participle’ (e.g. perfect progressive have been waiting); where the –ing participle
occurs without the verb to be it is a non-finite clause (e.g. looking down on the RAF,
cheering their heads off)
present/-ing participle and present tense – these terms were often used interchangeably,
but are grammatically distinct (the participle is non-finite and does not change its form;
the present tense is finite and changes its form for the third person singular e.g. the royal
standard flutters …; they see …)
proper noun/pronoun – there was a surprising confusion between these terms with the
Beckhams referred to as a “pronoun”
elision (e.g. gonna) and ellipsis (e.g. I’d like to say Ø one of my favourite parts of the day
Ø military bands) continue to cause problems
anaphoric/cataphoric – these terms were used loosely to describe any reference to past
or future time, but they are specifically linked to pronoun referencing
interrogatives – these were consistently described as “tag questions” in Text B
complements – these were often accurately identified, but were often described as
“complement phrases”, mixing two levels of language analysis i.e. ‘complement’ =
function label; ‘phrase’ = form label
adverbials – these too were accurately identified, but were often quoted incompletely i.e.
“ten minutes” instead of in about ten minutes time and “the far left” instead of over to the
far left
complex ‘sentence’ – this was used as a general description, but it fails to take account
of the very loose structure of utterances in speech which are frequently long with multiple
co-ordination
formal/informal tenor – candidates often feel the need to say texts are one or the other
when frequently there may be some evidence of both formality and informality; it was, for
instance, inaccurate to say that Text A was “informal because there were examples of
colloquialisms” like cheering their heads off; and that Text B was “not formal because of
the non-fluency features”
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Other problems:
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the spelling of ‘spontaneity’ (often spelt ‘spontinuity’)
the use of ‘emphasis’ (noun) where the verb ‘emphasise’ was needed
the use of ‘sentence’ where ‘utterance’ is better for transcribed speech
the listing of words which are poly- or monosyllabic with a very generalised comment
about formality or informality
the use of ‘listener’ (with the implication that this was a radio broadcast) rather than
‘viewer’
long quotations which are tagged on at the end of sentences and not analysed or
discussed
the spelling of ‘deixis’ and ‘deictic’
not checking words in context – many candidates described cheers (l.22, Text A) and
burst (l.24, Text A) as verbs when they are nouns in this context
mistaken references to Huw Edwards as ‘Huw Stephens’ (the Radio 1 presenter), which
often resulted in candidates making a false correlation between informality features and
a supposed ‘disrespect’ for royalty
Section B
Analysis of Written Language over Time: Advertising or Promotion of Magic/Circus
Acts
Many candidates seemed to enjoy writing about these extracts, although there were also
cases where answers were not completed. Inevitably the older texts are more challenging,
but most candidates managed to explore the formality of Text A and recognised the change
of tone in Text B with its attempt to re-create the drama of the moment through exclamatory
interjections. Candidates were on secure ground with Text C, making sensible points about
language and structure, and exploring the use of humour.
Discussion of historical features was often quite narrow. Candidates were able to observe
variations in spelling, but often did not attempt to describe or explain the differences. In the
better responses, there was evidence of understanding since candidates were able to
accurately label examples and to use grammatical terminology: for instance, the best
responses recognised that join’d was a past participle where the –ed inflection had been
elided; or that capitalisation was used for words with semantic significance such as the
abstract noun Wonder where we would now only use initial capitalisation for proper nouns
and to mark the beginning of a new sentence. In Text B, while many picked out hath as
archaic, very few were able to describe it as a present tense 3rd person singular verb and
many thought it was a past tense form. In a few cases, candidates identified this as an
example of archaic usage at the time, linking the choice of verb to the purpose of the text in
creating a mysterious and esoteric mood.
Picking out examples of semantic change is difficult in exam conditions, but in some cases
candidates showed evidence of close reading, selecting words that they could explore
sensibly. There was effective discussion of the nouns Tavern, Satisfaction and Maidens and
the adjective tedious (Text A), and the interjections when lo! and What, ho! and the nouns
autographs, Daguerratype and Electrography (Text B). As a point of comparison, some
responses explored the American spelling in Text C. Candidates also considered word
formation effectively, discussing the noun phrase any thing and the hyphenated noun facsimile which are now compounded.
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Many were able to pick out examples of inverted syntax, but few were able to discuss these
successfully. The opening sentence of Text A, for instance, was often described as archaic,
but the fronted adverbials are less interesting as a feature of historical language than the
archaic preposition over-against, which was often over-looked. Similarly, the fronted noun
clause (l.5) was more significant for its re-positioning of the proper nouns at the beginning of
the sentence. A more effective example of archaic grammar can be seen in the position of
the adverb ‘before’. It occurs both in its modern end position (ever seen before) and in the
medial position (any thing before seen). There was some sensible discussion of time
references, although many candidates could do little more than state that half-past Seven
o’clock “should not have ‘o’clock’ on the end”. The ability to recognise this as a contracted
prepositional phrase would be helpful. Very few candidates saw the inconsistent use of the
possessive inflection in Text A, which was absent in the title (At Mr Barnes and Finleys
Booth), but used in the noun phrase The late Jacob Hall’s Son.
There are some misconceptions about historical language features which often occur
because of confusion about historical periods and the historical sequence of events. Many
thought that the contracted verb forms were a result of Caxton “charging by the letter”, or an
example of “the latest fashion”. Others argued that the use of initial capitals was a hangover
from the Germanic influence. These theories are quite difficult to authenticate and
candidates would be better advised to stick to a close reading of the text and analysis of its
key features.
Candidates should be wary of spending too long exploring graphological features. There
were differences in approach and some candidates used this fact to support their argument
about changes in genre. However, others dealt with the presentation of each text in detail
with a separate paragraph for each extract. Discussion of paragraph length and the use of
headings does not offer opportunities to demonstrate linguistic knowledge and candidates
spending this long on very general features often did not manage to cover a wide enough
range of language analysis.
There was evidence of real engagement where candidates recognised that Texts A and B
were examples of self-promotion and Text C was a review. It gave the opportunity for effective
exploration of genre, with a consideration of the tone and the effects created by language
choice. Discussion of superlatives, emotive pre-modifiers, figurative language, rhetorical
patterning and changes in grammatical mood showed a secure understanding of purpose and
genre.
Some problem with terms:
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exclamatives – these are grammatical structures where the aim is to express the extent to
which speakers or writers are stirred by something. They begin with ‘What …’ (What a night
that was!) or “How …’ (How stupid is that!). The examples here are exclamatories.
past tense – candidates often use this term to describe all –ed verb forms. It is important to
look at the context to see whether the verb form is a past tense standing alone (premiered),
or is a past participle dependent on an auxiliary (has … surpass’d) or a group of auxiliaries
(have been … pleas’d).
abstract nouns – these were frequently described as adjectives: Agility, Sweetness,
Perfection, Excellency (Text A); Amazement (Text B); zaniness, flexibility (Text C)
hyperbole – anything positive tended to be described as hyperbole, with many candidates
missing effective examples such as the whole World can testify; hyperbole was also
mistakenly used as proof that Text A was “informal”
superlatives – while recognising highest and best (l.5), many candidates cited only ‘most’
rather than the complete most famous (Text A) and most minute (Text B); in addition,
positive adjectives (breathtaking, awe-inducing) were often described as superlative
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adverbials/prepositional phrases – it is important to recognise that not all prepositional
phrases are adverbials. Where a prepositional phrase stands alone and gives us information
about time (On Monday, June 14th) or place (Between the Crown-Tavern and Hospital-Gate
…), it is an adverbial; where it is linked to a noun, it has a post-modifying function (A little Girl
about 3: Years old …)
vocative – this was again used interchangeably with ‘terms of address’ with only a few
candidates recognising the vocative Ladies (Text B)
collective nouns – these are nouns referring to a group of people or things (e.g. audience,
Text B); many candidates were using the term to refer to plural nouns (e.g. Spectators, Text
A)
Other problems:
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the spelling of ‘consonant’ and ‘advertisement’
not checking words in context – many candidates described publick (Text A) as a noun
where it is an adjective, and best as an adjective where it is functioning as the head of
noun phrase (the best of musick)
spending too long discussing very narrow features – for example, a whole paragraph on
the use of the definite article
assuming that formal words (thus) are archaic and therefore obsolete
spending too long on wider context (for instance, children and work, the Education Act,
sexism)
the use of broad expressions like ‘back in the day’ and ‘back then’
the use of long quotations which are tagged onto the end of sentences with no comment
overly long quotations where the key words are not underlined
The final version of this Principal Examiner’s Report will be available by 20 September
2013.
GCE Examiner’s Report English Language (24/7/13)/HL
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