Views on A level options including English language and Literature

(17 Posts)
Alevelchoice Sun 27-Oct-19 15:26:38

My DC is considering his A-level options since they will influence his choice of 6th form.

He has a clear preference for English Language and Literature over English Literature - no Shakespeare and creative writing are both appealing.

My question is: do you think ELL instead of EL will hinder his chances to get to a top Uni and course? I am looking at this in the context of the (now apparently scrapped) list of “facilitating subjects”.

He is predicted 8/9s for GCSE.
His degree preferences right now are Law or PPE, maybe Economics.
His other A level choices are Maths, Spanish and History (Spanish is our home language and he passed a C1 exam last year so I estimate it will only take him 1/3 or 1/2 of the effort of a normal A level).

Thanks a lot for your views. I have not studied in this country and the system and options look frighteningly complex.

OP’s posts: |
Piggywaspushed Sun 27-Oct-19 15:31:12

Plenty of posters will rock up soon to tell you Lit is superior. I am an English teacher and in my faculty over the last few years we have seen two go off to Oxbridge. One to study at Cambridge in some type of combined humanities degree who did Eng Lit and one to study MFL and linguistics at Oxford who did Lang Lit.

onlyconnect Sun 27-Oct-19 15:42:14

I'm pretty sure universities recently announced they were binning the list of facilitating subjects precisely because of this sort of nonsense. I have considerable experience in advising on A levels and seeing students go to universities from Oxbridge to Russell group to former polytechnics and really they are interested in grades along with any other entrance tests and performance at interviews. The only time they are bothered which A levels someone has done is when they state particular requirements on their entrance criteria. Students should pick the A levels they will enjoy.

wtftodo Sun 27-Oct-19 15:45:26

I did lang lit and definitely had to do Shakespeare? It was a while ago, admittedly.. it was also much harder, less enjoyable and less creative doing the Lang bit than I expected and I wish I’d done straight eng lit. However I did get offers at various decent unis.

Piggywaspushed Sun 27-Oct-19 16:06:33

Shakespeare is on the spec but can be avoided.

Piggywaspushed Sun 27-Oct-19 16:08:57

The Lang Lit aversion is just snobbery. This is what has always existed in Scotland where Lit and Lang are never separated. Ironically, it's maths vs arithmetic that gets this dichotomy North of the Border!

Fifthtimelucky Sun 27-Oct-19 17:20:59

One of my daughters did Lang Lit (the other did Lit), because she was attracted by the creative writing aspect. Half way through the course she wished she had done the Lit (can't remember why).

In any event it didn't affect her getting 5 offers from RG universities (not for English). Your son should go for the course her prefers.


Piggywaspushed Sun 27-Oct-19 17:49:25

Universities also tend not to be selective about this nowadays as there are schools which only offer Lang Lit.

Fredericaca Sun 27-Oct-19 19:17:43

No snobbery here. My DC has applied for PPE and currently holds offers from Warwick, York and Durham. Two of them have dropped their standard offer for each subject, so they obviously aren't bothered that my DC's A levels include English Language rather than Lit. Oxford was also happy, as the Language course requires analysis skills and course work which you can easily sway towards politics or economics if you aren't taking these subjects at A level.

Student1230 Sun 27-Oct-19 23:30:37

Hi there,
I’m a student in Year 13 currently, studying EngLangLit, Classical Civilisation and French. I applied to university around 2 weeks ago, to study English Literature.

To answer your question - good universities hold no preference. I’ve been given offers from Exeter, Leeds, Newcastle and Liverpool so far (just waiting on a reply from Birmingham) - and all offers were reduced by at least 1 grade e.g. Leeds went AAA to AAB.

English lit is a competitive degree, and holds no preference to English LangLit vs English Lit. When visiting open days last year I was told that most unis did not accept straight English Language in order to study English Literature at degree.

I chose this A Level for the same reasons and have really enjoyed it. Any university of high caliber has no preference, so he should just do what he enjoys.

Hope this helped

Xenia Mon 28-Oct-19 08:19:11

I sitll hold with English lit being better because people looking at the CV (employers) can often be 20 years out of date so why take the risk (ditto on the facilitating/harder subjects).

HugoSpritz Mon 28-Oct-19 08:29:30

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

plantainchips Mon 28-Oct-19 08:35:23

In addition to everything said, I would recommended to check a few universities on how they consider alevels taken by native students. I’ve seen a few who ask for a higher grade and a few may even discard it.

For example, LSE say “ A-Level in a first/native language may be excluded if there is significant prior exposure to the language.”
Prior exposure can be having parents who speak the language and so growing up with the language.

Alevelchoice Mon 28-Oct-19 10:52:15

Thank you everybody for the very insightful points. They do help a lot!

Plaintainchips, thanks also for the warning about Spanish. We had taken that into account, but since it would be a 4th A-level we think there is no risk in adding it to the list (the only counterargument is that one could do the EPQ instead).

OP’s posts: |
Piggywaspushed Mon 28-Oct-19 17:09:07

Has he looked at actual exam papers for Lang Lit and Lit? Lang Lit can appear trendier /more fun : the exam papers can be an eye opener for how dry the material can be. He also might like to find out which books the school(s) study and read bits. Personally, I think the OCR Lang Lit spec, for example, is miles better than the more commonly studied AQA.

Oblomov19 Mon 28-Oct-19 17:13:20

Taking notes. Ds1 can't decide between English language and English Lit.

Piggywaspushed Mon 28-Oct-19 17:20:07

Oblomov, they are really completely different. Again, has he looked at exam papers? The year 12 Eng Lang (ie AS, sort of) is really quite dry. The interesting stuff kicks in in year 13, usually. What does he think he wants to do beyond school , as that could influence the decision.

As a side note, I am so delighted to hear of Year 11s who want to study A Level English of any form, especially boys. Hooray!

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