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'A' Level Choices-English Language or Literature?

(25 Posts)
JFY30 Sun 28-Aug-11 15:48:18

Can anyone offer advice about the validity of English Language as an 'A' Level? My daughter is about to start 6th Form and I am trying to 'encourage' her to do English Literature rather than English Language 'A' Level. She has already chosen to do History and Art as her other 'A' Levels and is considering doing a degree in History.
As it is so competitive to get into Uni, would she be better to do Literature rather than Language? I feel that Language is one of those 'softer' A Levels and may limit her in which uni's she could apply to. She got A* in both subjects at GCSE. The Russell Group Guide 'Informed Choices' lists English as a 'facilitating' subject-I presume they mean Literature rather than Language????
Any advice would be really appreciated.

Cheeseandharps Sun 28-Aug-11 16:03:03

I think English Literature would be better, as some universities prefer this. I've just graduated as a mature student; one of my A Levels was English Lit and it helped so much, especially with essay writing in other subjects.

I don't know how soft Language is compared to Literature, but at my university interview, it was made clear that Literature was held in higher regard.

The above is only relevant to the RG university I studied at, but HTH.

Talker2010 Sun 28-Aug-11 16:35:53

Can she not do both ... what is her 4th choice

Language is not a soft option but you are correct that Literature is what the RG mean

TeamDamon Sun 28-Aug-11 16:43:12

Two things to bear in mind here:

First, when universities say English, they will invariably mean literature. Secondly, English Language A Level will bear no resemblance to the English GCSE your DD did so I would advise her to read the specifications very carefully before she decides to make sure she knows what she is letting herself in for. This link might help her get a better idea of what it is.

JFY30 Sun 28-Aug-11 16:49:38

Thanks for your help Cheeseandharps and Talker2010.
Her fourth choice at the moment is Law, I am encouraging her to swap this for English Literature, but she is not keen to change her choices. Obviously, I want her to do subjects she will enjoy but I also want her to keep as many options open as possible. If she sticks with her current choice then the only 'facilitating' subject she is doing is History. She absolutely loves reading and I am sure she would do well in Literature 'A' know what teenagers are like!! They think they know everything and she says that she does not like some of the texts that are on the Literature syllabus.

JFY30 Sun 28-Aug-11 16:51:26

Thanks TeamDamon-the link you have given is great, I will get her to read it.

missmiss Sun 28-Aug-11 16:51:38

I'd go for Literature. Language is a bit of a hotchpotch and not nearly as academic; plus, if your daughter wants to study History then the extra essay-writing and analytical thinking practice that Lit involves will be really useful.

TeamDamon Sun 28-Aug-11 16:53:19

Do try to encourage her away from Law. I don't think it is very highly regarded by universities - those who want to study Law are far better doing, say, Politics, History and English or Economics, perhaps.

This article is quite useful.

missmiss Sun 28-Aug-11 16:54:38

Oh God, don't do Law! It's definitely not considered a useful or academic subject. This list from Cambridge is an excellent guide to which subjects RG universities value when selecting applicants.

TeamDamon Sun 28-Aug-11 16:54:42

even those who want to study Law, that was supposed to say...

missmiss Sun 28-Aug-11 16:55:22

Wrong link! this one!

Meow75isknittinglikemad Sun 28-Aug-11 16:58:27

I did Eng Lang at A level, and it was a bit like Media Studies, I thought. I hated it, and got VERY disillusioned in less than a year.

My mate, OTOH, did Lit and LOVED IT even though she didn't like all of the texts, e.g. Crime & Punishment by that Russian writer whose name rather sadly escapes me.

I would recommend Lit.

JFY30 Sun 28-Aug-11 17:00:08

I think she initially chose Law as she was thinking about doing a Law degree, however she is now not so sure. I have heard from other people that Law 'A' Level is of little use. She is worried that if she does Eng Lang, Lit, History and Art then there will be an overload of coursework (she was told that during her enrolement last week).

missmiss Sun 28-Aug-11 17:03:27

Then she should drop Lang and do English Lit, History and Art. Art is very demanding in terms of coursework etc.

eatyourveg Sun 28-Aug-11 17:04:57

ds1 is looking at English degrees and every single one of them wants either lit or lang and lit combined, not lang on its own. It tends to me more linguistics based.

BellsaRinging Sun 28-Aug-11 17:07:38

I did a lang/lit mixed paper at A-level (long, long ago) and tbh found the lang papers much easier. However, I went to a Russell Group Uni to do law, and they didn't seem to worry then, though from the posts it may have changed since. Whilst I did find the lang bit easy it did help with analytical thinking, structuring essays, also with writing articles, and there was also a section of the exam on summarising and grammar. I liked the A-Level. I would question more whether Art will assist her in getting in to do History, tbh.

Yellowstone Sun 28-Aug-11 17:56:37

JFY30 if your DD is aiming for a competitive university to read History then my experience would definitely to opt for English Lit, given that she's also doing Art.

DD2 did History, English Lit and Art at A2 with no fourth subject and was warned by the school that the Art made her vulnerable to rejections but DD2 was clear she didn't want to carry on with her fourth (French) and Art was her favourite thing.

In the event she got offers from all five universities (three RG plus Durham and St. Andrews) but she was canny with two pieces of research that formed part of the Art AS and A2. She did also have flawless grades. Anything less or any other 'soft' subject I think might well have left her rejected.

Tortu Sun 28-Aug-11 18:50:30

English Language is not considered a 'soft' subject, but, yes, I have to agree with others and say that she probably has no idea what it's actually like as it is very different from GCSE.

If she is considering History, then English Lit would be more use as it will help her with traditional analysis and essay-writing.

Universities are unlikely to reject her on the basis of English Lang over Lit, BUT I would advise against her doing both of them as she will look very narrow and people may wonder why she didn't go for the combined, 'Lang Lit' option.

JFY30 Sun 28-Aug-11 22:17:10

Thanks everyone for all of your advice, it has been really helpful. Hopefully it will help my daughter make up her mind and make the right decision.

IHeartKingThistle Mon 29-Aug-11 22:06:11

I can't believe people are saying English Language is a soft subject and less academic. I did it, achieved one of the top grades in the country and went on to do a degree in English Language and Linguistics. It didn't feel soft at the time, believe me! University departments around the country would be pretty offended by this thread!


TeamDamon Tue 30-Aug-11 17:55:53

IHeartKingThistle Mon 29-Aug-11 22:06:11
I can't believe people are saying English Language is a soft subject ...

Tortu Sun 28-Aug-11 18:50:30
English Language is not considered a 'soft' subject...

Talker2010 Sun 28-Aug-11 16:35:53
Language is not a soft option...

IHeart - you might want to read the thread grin

As you went on to do a degree in English Language, it seems that English Language was the right A Level for you. That doesn't make it the right A Level for someone who wants to study History, necessarily hmm

And university departments have to have thick skins. Imagine teaching Media Studies or Business Studies at uni and having to endure being slagged off by Christopher Woodhead every week grin

MindtheGappp Tue 30-Aug-11 18:13:26

Literature is the better subject.

IHeartKingThistle Tue 30-Aug-11 22:10:12

I did read the thread! I didn't say ALL people were saying it's a soft subject! I just got huffy with those who did!

Point taken re: History though. I did think it at the time, but I was too busy getting huffy blush

TeamDamon Wed 31-Aug-11 08:45:11

IHeart - if it makes you feel any better, I think English Language would be a bloody hard A Level. That is why I was warning the OP to get her DD to read up on what it involves before opting for it on the basis of good grades in English GCSE (which is nothing like the Lang. A Level).

sassyTHEFIRST Wed 31-Aug-11 08:52:03

I teach both. Lang is essentially Linguistics with a little creative writing thrown in - it is closer to Psychology than to Eng Lit in many ways. Some interesting aspects but the 1st term or so very dull - and not as well regarded for a History degree. (I think bloody hard myself, but that's because I am books-minded, not research-minded.) Lit much more like the GCSE she's just taken, and as others have said, will assist in essay writing etc.

Won't she do 4 AS anyway, then drop one?

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