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English teacher interested in language and culture, and also in fiction using magic, myth, folklore and the supernatural. Now teaching part-time in a Leicester Upper School (ages 14-19) and also writing for children, teens and teachers.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

April A-Z: English Language

For today, I'm doing a teacherly post. Here's why I love teaching English Language at A Level:
  
This is not me!
  1. I'm a grammar nerd. Although I teach English, my degree's in Modern Languages, so I do enjoy what some find the 'dry' bit of Language: discussing the impact of different tenses, clause positions etc.
  2. A-Level Language is essentially a Social Science subject, so I get to chair lots of discussions about human behaviour and attitudes.
  3. More specifically, I get to teach 16-18 yr olds that feminism is a valid stance, and to openly challenge homophobia, racism and other prejudices. Even more excitingly, I get to show students how language contributes to such -isms, and to challenge the 'political correctness has gone mad' default position of many teens.
  4. The range of material we look at. Unlike courses with set texts, we could get anything in the exam: transcribed spontaneous speech, scripted speech, a series of tweets, a broadsheet article, travel writing - seriously, anything's fair game. Oh, and some of that material could stretch back as far as 1600, or be in a regional or social dialect.
  5. The range of general knowledge input: students need to understand the development of the English Language from 1600 to the present and into the future, so there's quite often a lot of broad-brush historical content (e.g. Shakespeare and Queen Victoria were not contemporaneous). We also need to discuss features of some UK English dialects, and of international varieties of English, which often involves revising (also known as learning) some geography. 
  6. Language (especially the A2 year of the course I teach - AQA A) is kind of anarchic, which is fun. Teaching teenagers to write academic essays in good Standard English arguing for people's rights to speak in dialect is a joy.

1 comment:

  1. Huzzah!

    English Language A level rules! It helps when it's taught by someone who clearly loves the subject (i.e. you) rather than someone who has been dragged by their diaphonous scarf, kicking and thkweaming from an English Lit class.

    ReplyDelete

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