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English Language A level at Sharnbrook Academy

Course description

It is remarkable how often language turns up as a topic of interest in daily conversation – whether it is a question about accents and dialects, a comment about usage and standards, or simply about a word’s origins and history.’

David Crystal, British linguist, The Cambridge Encyclopaedia of the English language

The course is for students who are interested in words, how language is used in our multi-cultural society (for example in advertising or politics), how language changes and how language is learned.

Course content

This is essentially a Linguistics course. It explores language use, and how people are represented through the language they use.  It blends practical and theoretical approaches to language study.  In addition, there is some opportunity for students to create their own texts and broaden their writing skills.  Reading is focussed around varieties of language and will include, for example, academic textbooks, media articles on language, adverts, extracts from novels and the back of a cornflakes packet!  Students will become researchers, exploring how the everyday language they encounter is used, and they will record and explore this in their scrapbooks.  The course explores language diversity, so it is important to be politically/socially aware.  Key skills that will be developed are close analysis of a range of texts, research, developing writing skills (essays, articles and creative), communication, working with others and improving your own learning and performance.

Entry requirements

All students must meet the minimum entry requirements which are:

  • a minimum of five GCSE passes at A* to C, plus mathematics and English language at level 4 or above.
  • ECDL or an equivalent IT course where studied. Please note that, where a student wishes to take at least one A level course and has level 2 BTEC qualifications, those level 2 BTEC qualifications can only count for up to a maximum of two of the required GCSE passes at A* to C, or mathematics and English language at level 4 or above.

In addition to the general entrance requirements: grade 5 in English language, and grade 5 in English literature at GCSE.


AQA A level English language specification

Yr 12:  Students do not sit an external AS exam in yr 12. We do an internal mock:

  • Paper 1: Students are asked to read 2 texts. They answer 2 questions analysing language use, and one question comparing texts.
  • Paper 2: Students answer 2 questions – An essay on language diversity; they also study an article from a media text and write an opinion article in response.

A Level: Yr 13

Paper 1:

Section A: 3 questions responding to and analysing 2 texts from different time periods.

Section B: An essay on the language acquisition of children.

Paper 2:

Section A: An essay on either language diversity or language change/world languages.

Section B: An analysis of 2 media articles on language issues; a written persuasive or informative article for a newspaper based on the same topic.


A 2000 word investigation into a language topic of the student’s choice.

An original writing piece and analysis (total together - 1500 words). Writing to inform, or persuade or to create.

Financial information

Students are required to purchase an A4 level arch folder to organise their work. They are also required to buy a scrapbook in which they can keep their independent research/wider exploration of language. The scrapbook should be A4 or A3 and can be hardback or paperback. All students should have a set of at least 4 highlighter pens. Glue sticks are useful for the scrapbook.

We use a variety of sources in class: there is an Oxford or a Cambridge University Press textbook that students can choose to purchase to support their class work. Students, in some cases, choose to buy a text to support their investigation. Revision guides are also available from publishers.

We often arrange trips to complement the unit being studied and there may be an additional cost to cover travel, insurance and entrance fees. Past trips have involved visits to the British Library in London and various workshops and lectures at local universities.

Future opportunities

English language is recognised for most subject-specific courses, such as linguistics, and humanities based courses at university. Please see the Sixth Form Team for fuller information on careers and higher education.  More specifically, successful completion may lead to careers in journalism, PR work, teaching, speech and language therapy as well as being ideally suited for law and politics.

How to apply

If you want to apply for this course, you will need to contact Sharnbrook Academy directly.

Last updated date: 27 October 2017

Key information