A-level English Language

5:39 pm Blogroll, Hong Kong Education

A level English in Hong Kong in Hong Kong

There is a myth that A-level English Language is an easy option and is not taken particularly seriously by employers. Do not be fooled. If you want to stand out from the crowd, read on!

Similar to other A-level subjects, English Language is nothing like its GCSE or IGCSE precursor. It is challenging, requires knowledge of specific terminology and involves analysis of a variety of texts from diverse genres and subjects – and not only written texts. Some of the questions it raises are for example, why do people speak in a particular way in different situations? Do men and women speak differently? What makes a good communicator? With questions such as these, A-level English Language offers students the opportunity to learn a great deal about language while actively engage with it.

For many students and their parents, the choice of what to study is linked to beliefs about university admission procedures and employment options after graduation. Studying English Language enables students to pursue opportunities linked not only to language, but also those within areas such as human-computer interface design, business communication, marketing or advertising. Moreover, with its strong focus on analysis, reasoning and communication, A-level English Language is also particularly valuable for law and the business world.

A-level English Language fosters the intellectual abilities and related skills sought by universities and employers. Business and law schools consistently indicate a preference for students with skills related to written and oral communication, critical thinking, problem solving, international perspectives and creativity.

For students who decide that the scientific study of language (linguistics) is the university course for them, they can opt to study linguistics with subjects such as psychology, journalism, social sciences, translation or education. Alternatively, they can choose to specialise in linguistics and its related areas. For linguistic graduates, employment opportunities are wide as there is a shortage of prospective employees with a background in linguistics. Indeed when Professor Stanley Peters of Stanford University, was asked if there a demand for people with a linguistics background, he replied, ‘You bet there is,’ and noted that the supply of such people was ‘extremely limited.’

So to return to A-level English Language, what does this course of study involve?

The course of study is divided into four units in the same way that other A-levels are, and so there are AS and A2 levels. The entire course considers a wide range of spoken, written and multi-modal texts, thereby providing the inspiration to learn about spoken and written language from real and imaginary worlds, as well as to engage in the craft of creating one’s own texts.

The AS-level provides a focus on the familiar and engaging area of everyday language. It has a practical emphasis on finding out about written and spoken language and using it effectively. It also looks at how language choices reflect identity and context variation, while also looking at the writing process used to generate different genres for different audiences.

A2, on the other hand, focuses on the origins of and variations and changes to the English language over time, moving on to the present use of English as a global language. Other topics studied include the development of children’s spoken and written language, and Unit 4 of A2 provides students with the opportunity to choose a topic from the course for investigation and subsequent presentation of an internally assessed project of 2,500 – 3,000 words – a real research project!

So is English Language A Level is an easy option? Absolutely not – it’s the gateway to many different degree and subsequent career options.

Sean Martin

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