English Language

Why study English Language at A Level?

Language is interwoven throughout every aspect of our lives.

You may sit reading the news on your phone or scrolling through your social media while eating breakfast. On the bus to school, you may pass a billboard with a witty slogan and think about how simple yet effective its message is. Throughout your day, you’ll talk with peers and members of staff, perhaps changing the tone and topic of conversation when certain people walk into the room.

Without realising, you have been using – and being exposed to – language in different forms and contexts.

Through studying A Level English Language, you will understand how people communicate, in speech and writing, in formal and informal situations. You will learn how words and phrases can have both direct and indirect meanings and can originate from all sorts of different geographical and historical contexts. You will study the effects that age, gender, ethnicity and a host of other factors can have on language use, as well as learning about the theory and practice of how we acquire our spoken and written language skills in the first place.

By studying these areas in depth, you will gain invaluable skills for life. You will understand how to communicate effectively, critically assess information and challenge assumptions. You’ll also become aware of the wider context of language and the written form. You will develop the ability to use language creatively and persuasively, whether in writing or verbally. All of these skills will provide an excellent foundation for higher level study of English or other disciplines or for entering the world of work.


Key Documents
Knowledge organisers Progression Model Assessment Map


Course Content

You will study AQA English Language, which is examined via two examination papers (Language, the Individual and Society and Language Diversity and Change) and two non-examination assessment pieces (an investigation into a language area of your choice and a piece of original writing, with commentary). The course will be taught by two teachers from the English Department.

Component 1 (Year 12):

Section A – Methods of language analysis

  • Phonetics, phonology and prosodics: how speech sounds and effects are articulated and analysed
  • Graphology: the visual aspects of textual design and appearance
  • Lexis and semantics: the vocabulary of English, including social and historical variation
  • Grammar, including morphology: the structural patterns and shapes of English at sentence, clause, phrase and word level
  • Pragmatics: the contextual aspects of language use
  • Discourse: extended stretches of communication occurring in different genres, modes and contexts

Section B – Children’s language development

  • The functions of children’s language
  • Phonological, pragmatic, lexical, semantic and grammatical development
  • Different genres of speech and writing
  • Different modes of communication (spoken, written, multimodal)
  • Theories and research about spoken language development. 

Section C – Sociolinguistics and diversity

  • Modes of communication: spoken, written and multimodal
  • Sociolect and idiolect
  • Gender and sexuality;
  • Computer mediated communication (CMC)
  • Accent and dialect and associated attitudes

Non Examination Assessment (NEA)

  • Language investigation (2,000 words excluding data)
  • Original writing and commentary (750 words each).


Component 2 (Year 13):

Section A – Language Change

  • Texts from different periods, from 1600 to the present day
  • Why language changes, developing critical knowledge and understanding of different views and explanations
  • Standardisation, dictionaries and academies
  • Attitudes to language change

Section B – Diversity

  • Closed groups
  • Age
  • Ethnicity
  • Global and World Englishes

Section C – Language discourses

How texts are produced to convey views and opinions about language issues, including how they:

  • Represent language
  • Construct an identity for the producer
  • Position the reader and seek to influence them
  • Are connected to discourses about language.

Non Examination Assessment (NEA)

  • You will also complete the two NEA pieces for submission in May of Year 13.


As a department, we believe that enrichment activities are an important part of your studies of English Language and will endeavour to provide you with opportunities to engage in external workshops or lectures as part of the course.


Who should I speak to for more information?

Mrs S. O’Connor, Curriculum Lead in English so’[email protected]

Mrs E. McEwen, KS5 Assessment Coordinator in English [email protected]

English Language Bridging Course

Wider Reading