AQA English Language Paper 2 question 3 is
the language analysis question, and in this video we’ll look at how language analysis is about so
much more than spotting and defining language choices – it’s about writing about their their effect in a specific and contextualised way. AQA English Language Paper 2 question 3 assesses
the language element of assessment objective 2:
Explain, comment on and analyse how writers use language and structure to achieve effects
and influence readers, using relevant subject terminology to support their view.
Now in this exam, what we mean by language analysis is pointed out in the mark scheme:
a writer’s use of words/phrases/language features and techniques and sentences forms.
You’ll note that this is the same thing we looked at in Paper 1 question 2, but in
that question they were listed in bullet points. In this question language means the same thing,
it’s just that there aren’t any bullet points, so you need to remember the areas
that you could write about. In this question, you’re directed to a section
of one of the sources and asked to analyse how the writer uses language.
Before we look at a sample question, let me point out that there has been a lot of variety
in this question over the four live exams we’ve had so far:
Firstly, the lines in question have ranged from as short a section of text as just 7
lines, to as many as 16 lines. And the source in question 3 has twice focused
on the 19th C text, and twice focused on the more modern text, so you need to be happy
with analysing language in both. Even the focus of the question can vary: so
far the question has been how is language used to describe a person, or an experience,
or the setting. With that said, let’s look at a sample question,
created exclusively for this video, based on the source taken from Mr Bruff’s Guide
to GCSE English Language, which is available in paperback on Amazon or eBook at mrbruff.com:
You now need to refer only to Source B from lines 10 to 33
How does the writer use language to describe Adrian and Woodland Green School?
[12 marks] So this is a 12 mark question, which means
you should spend around 15 minutes on it. That gives you plenty of time to re-read the
lines you’ve been directed to and to pick out examples to write about. Now the assessment objective for question
2 refers to the use of ‘relevant subject terminology’, and this has led some students
to approach the question as if it is all about feature spotting – looking out for similes,
metaphors, personification, that kind of thing. The key to this question is to be specific
about the effects the writer’s language choices have, or explain a reason behind the
writer’s choices. Your comments have to be specific to the text – they need to be
precise and contextualised to the extract. One way to do this, is to read the extract
and ask yourself ‘what is the specific effect that the writer is trying to achieve?’ It
could be to reveal a key characteristic of a person, such as dominance, or confidence,
excitability or enthusiasm. Or it could be to present a feeling about an experience,
such as intimidation or vulnerability. It really could be anything, so you need to re-read
the lines carefully and not just look for language to write about, but to think carefully
about the effect. So let’s look at that part of the text:
Dear Mr Woolark, I am writing with reference to the continued
poor behaviour exhibited by your son, Adrian, here at Woodland Green School.
At Woodland Green, we pride ourselves on providing the very best education available to our students.
As you are supposedly aware, lessons begin at 7:30 a.m., with students quickly making
their way to the schoolroom. It is unfortunate that Adrian seems to find it impossible to
arrive at school on time although this is not why he has been reprimanded.
Each schoolroom here at Woodland Green contains as many as one hundred students, who are eager
and keen to learn. Students are seated at an iron-framed desk, which is bolted to the
floor, facing the front of the room. Seating is tiered towards the back of the room to
ensure that all pupils are able to see clearly to the front of the class. These seating arrangements
ensure all students are given an excellent view of the class teacher from whom they will
be learning. We pride ourselves on our teachers here, Mr Woolark, and students who do the
same are quick to learn, nay, to excel. Adrian does not seem to feel the same way. Twice,
yes twice, he has been caught talking over the teacher Mr Butterly. Mr Butterly, himself
now a little hard of hearing, was not aware of Adrian’s idle chatter, but I myself was.
I observed Adrian through the curtain at the rear of the room and withdrew him directly
to my office to receive the cane. He was obstinate enough to inform me that he knew all about
the topic Mr Butterly was expounding upon and therefore had no need to listen. You can
quite understand, I am sure, that I therefore proceeded to administer two lashes of ‘old
faithful’? In our example, the writer clearly wants to
present Adrian as being disobedient and disrespectful, and the school as majestic and beyond reproach.
Let’s finish this video by looking at a sample paragraph:
Thompson uses a range of negative emotive language to describe Adrian, detailing the:
‘poor behaviour exhibited’ by the boy. The use of the verb ‘exhibited’ has an extra layer
of criticism to it, as it suggests that Adrian’s bad behaviour is some sort of public spectacle,
a performance given for the purpose of eliciting a response. It is as if the boy has deliberately
misbehaved, rather than accidentally found himself in trouble. This exaggerates the sense
of Adrian’s disobedience. This negative emotive language is juxtaposed with a wealth
of positive terms to describe Woodland Green school. Thompson employs a range of positive
adjectives such as ‘keen’, ‘eager’ and ‘best’, juxtaposing the negative description of Adrian
with the positive description of the school to emphasise just how wonderful the school
is and just how disobedient Adrian is.