Alsager School

What it is like to be a…

What it is like to be a
A level English student  at Alsager School

The English department offer A levels in both English Language and English Literature. We have included a short summary of what you can expect to find on these 2 courses and also the views of some of our current A level students. 

English Language A level 

A Level English Language will enable you to study a wide range of texts from a range of time periods. It allows you consider different approaches of analysis and you will be able to apply the views of a range of theorists as well as contributing your own ideas and beliefs on the English language to analytical essays. Furthermore, there are various elements of creativity included within the course which are tested both in the exam and in the coursework components. You will be able to study the language in real world contexts for example, what impact has technology had on the way we speak? How do children learn to acquire language? Is our language gendered at all? This A level offers you fresh perspective on the English language. 

English Literature A level

Do you love that feeling of getting lost in a great book or the feeling you get when that analytical point just clicks? A Level English Literature involves the study of a wide range of texts, including prose, poetry and plays, so a love of reading is a must. Students will study Shakespeare’s ‘Othello’, Arthur Miller’s ‘Death of a Salesman’ and a selection of John Keats’ poetry through the lens of Tragedy (Paper 1). Students will also study a range Crime Writing (Paper 2) such as Ian McEwan’s ‘Atonement’ and Coleridge’s ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’. Students are expected to read widely outside of class. This course will allow you to explore, discuss and analyse a wealth of writers and engage with their views as well as offering your own interpretations on key moral matters. 

Mrs Martin (Curriculum Leader for English)

How is the A level different to GCSE English?

“The main difference is that we get to delve into the underlying philosophy of how the language works, what it’s about and how it got to this point.” (English Language student)

“It’s so different from the GCSE. We look at the language itself, how the language has formed, why it has formed and even how children acquire it.” (English Language student)

“While GCSE explored certain genres at a specific point in time, A level allows you to explore the changes of crime and tragedy texts as the era of the text’s publishing is essential to shaping meaning.” (English Literature student)

How do the skills developed across your A level literature and language course help support other subjects you do? 

“English language requires patience to learn a range of terms and theory, but It has taught me to see things from a different perspective.” (English Language student)

“By taking both Englishes at A level, the language skills I have developed in English language have helped me to create a much more focused, in depth analysis for literature. Alongside this, the context I have studied in literature can give you a greater understanding of history and a much clearer base for analysis in a variety of other subjects. (English Language & Literature student)

“Both language and literature have given me the ability to understand language within different contexts and I feel this will really help me in later life eg: in the workplace.” (English Language & Literature student)

What makes English such an interesting A level?

 “Through the wider reading we do, I’ve learnt a range of research skills that I can apply to my other A level subjects. English language does not just endorse learning in the classroom but also gives you the skills you need for independent study at university and beyond.” (English Language student)

“The uniqueness of our language interests me. How language can differ from one person to the next through accent or gender or even just their physical context.” (English Language student)

“The fascination with English literature come from the opportunity to explore the expertise of some of the world’s most talented writers. Especially within plays like Othello and Death of a Salesman, the hidden meanings behind some of the writer’s most subtle decisions make English literature such an interesting A level.” (English Literature student)

What made you choose English A level?

“Universities seem to like the fact that I study literature as the depth of analysis required helps prepare students for subjects such as law.” (English Literature student)

“I run my own blog so the opportunity to learn how to shape meanings through language made this course an easy choice for me. I wanted to learn how to use language to best express my opinions.” (English Language student)

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