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Higham Lane
Sixth Form

English Language


How is this different to GCSE English Language?

There is no correlation between GCSE English Language and A level English Language- in fact, it would be more accurate to call the A level course ‘Linguistics’ as it is the science of language! The topics that we will study reflect this: language and gender, power, technology; child language acquisition; how language has developed over the centuries. In addition to this, you will be able to have a voice in debating topical issues such as political correctness, attitudes to accent and dialects and whether there is a ‘correct’ form of English!


Will there be any opportunities to explore areas that I am interested in?

The coursework component of the course (the NEA) will be just the place to do this. With advice and guidance from teachers, you will be able to explore areas of linguistics that you are interested in. Previous topics have ranged from exploring the differences between male and female comedians, language use in Marvel comics, teacher’s use of language in the classroom to the language used to establish power in Bake Off!


How can I achieve a high grade in this subject?

The key to success in any A level is the work outside the classroom. In short, you must read to succeed!


What careers can English Language A-Level lead to?

English Language is considered to be a ‘facilitating subject’ meaning it is desired by universities. There are many careers that value the key skills that English develops from law to management to communication careers.



If you are fascinated by language and are keen to know how language works, changes and what influences it, then A Level English Language is the course for you. It offers a very different experience from your GCSE English, with linguistic terminology, including grammar, underpinning A level. The course enables students to learn how children acquire language; how language use is affected by power, gender and technology; and how language changes over time, amongst other topics. Students can expect a wide range of learning activities, with discussion and presentation central to their experience. A level is assessed by examination with an additional coursework component which is an independent investigation.

Exam Board:

OCR English Language (H470)


For their first exam, students will develop their knowledge and understanding of the language levels and apply their critical analysis skills to a range of spoken, written and multi-modal texts. They will also study for an engaging writing production task where learners demonstrate their own language skills in response to a language issue.

Component 02 specifies interesting and varied contexts for further exploration of language in use: child language acquisition, language in the media and language change. For language in the media, students will develop their knowledge and understanding of the ways in which power is represented in a variety of texts; the ways gender is represented and reproduced in texts; and how developments in technology have had an influence on our language and its evolution.

Finally, students will conduct an independent investigation into an aspect of language use which interests them. As well as this research project, students will produce an academic poster to communicate their findings to others in a visually accessible way. This independent research project is excellent preparation for
Higher Education.

Course Details:

Methods of language analysis are integrated into all components. 

Component 1: Exploring Language (40%)

What's assessed?

  • Language under the microscope
  • Writing about a topical issue
  • Comparing and contrasting texts

How is it assessed?

  • Written exam: 2 hours 30 minutes


A Level Non-exam assessment: Independent Language Research (20%)

What's assessed?

  • Language investigation
  • Academic poster

How is it assessed?

  • Assessed by teachers
  • Moderated by OCR


Paper 2: Dimensions of Linguistic Variation (40%)

What's assessed?

  • Child language acquisition
  • Language in the media
  • Language change

How is it assessed?

  • Written exam: 2 hours 30 minutes

Other Learning Opportunities:

 You can develop your leadership skills by supporting KS4 students with GCSE studies and teach A Level taster sessions with KS4 students.  You will also develop your ability to conduct investigative research and your ability to deliver presentations to others.

Where next with this course?

A Level English Language is a highly prized A Level and offers a clear link to a wide range of first degree courses and career opportunities.  Critical reading, data analysis, evaluation, the ability to develop and sustain arguments and a number of different writing skills are invaluable for both further study and future employment. Students could go on to take a specialist degree in English language, language and communications or linguistics, or other courses such as law, drama, education, history or any of the social sciences. Career possibilities include journalism, publishing, teaching and speech and language therapy.


Click on the link below for a copy of the course details.