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English language GCSE Paper 1 -please help, I’m baffled and so is DS.

(49 Posts)
speakingwoman Sat 29-Sep-18 16:05:28

I would be very grateful for any help.....

Am pleased to say that Ds year 11 has asked me to help with his English, where he is underperforming, especially in English Language.

Some things I can help with: his spelling, grammar and vocabulary. All the stuff about “controlling meaning” is right up my street. But though I have a degree in English myself, I find some of the requirements confusing.

An example: there is a piece of unseen prose in paper 1 where you have to say how the writer has “structured the text to interest you as a reader”.

Do we exclude any language use here? And if so, so we discuss the subject matter, how it changes? I’m really stuck.

OP’s posts: |
Undies1990 Sat 29-Sep-18 16:17:57

Mr Salles
Mr Bruff

These two lovely gentlemen got my DD through her English GCSE. Google them .... You Tube them.
They explain EXACTLY what the exam boards are looking for for each paper and question. Incredibly helpful and easy to understand.

Good luck to your DS!

angelicanto Sat 29-Sep-18 16:18:32

English HoD here.....

For the structure question, don't talk about language devices. Instead focus on structural shifts- how does the extract change from beginning to end? Is there a change in pace, setting or perspective for example? And why has the writer included such shifts? The opening of 1984 for instance starts out on the street then moves inside, with the atmosphere becoming increasingly claustrophobic and oppressive.......

Does that help?

angelicanto Sat 29-Sep-18 16:18:52

Yes Mr Bruff is v good

TeenTimesTwo Sat 29-Sep-18 16:31:40

I consider myself to be well educated and literate.
I got As for English Lang and English Lit O level.
In my opinion, the requirements for English Lang GCSE are not ones you can work out with common sense. You have to go to Mr Bruff or similar.

speakingwoman Sat 29-Sep-18 16:37:49

Endless gratitude!
We need a new emoticon for the brilliance of mumsnet.
Off to find those channels now......

OP’s posts: |
MaisyPops Sat 29-Sep-18 16:43:03

I second Mr Bruff.

The structure question is irritating in my opinion.

On a simple level (lower grades) it's what happens in what order and why. E.g. it starts here, then goes to here and then the tension increases at the end because there's a cliff hanger.

For the higher levels, think about how the extract has been put together. I always tell my students to imagine you were a film director, where would the camera focus if this was a film. E.g. does it start with a panoramic of the setting before zooming into one feature - why does the writer do this?
To use the 1984 example, at one point the narrative focuses in on the big brother is watching you poster so you'd talk about why the write has shifted to that image at that point in the extract.

I hate the question personally.

LARLARLAND Sat 29-Sep-18 16:45:21

DS1 sat his GCSEs this year and got a level 8 in English Lang. He is a devotee of Mr. Bruff.

speakingwoman Sat 29-Sep-18 16:46:40

I think Mr Bruff could be my new best friend

OP’s posts: |
MaisyPops Sat 29-Sep-18 16:48:48

He's very good.
The only thing I dislike about Mr Bruff is that he can be really quick to be a bit smug and all 'and your teachers won't have covered...' He tends to present himself as some kind of unique subject specialist and one person saviour who is better than everyone else.
The reality is most of what he says and does is what thousands of English teachers do and say every day for the 2 years of the course.

theduchessstill Sun 30-Sep-18 00:54:34

Completely agree about the pros, and cons, of Mr B. In fact, I got a little shirty with my Y12s when they were going on about how Mr Bruff had got them through etc, when it was me who had done the after school sessions with them, spent hours marking their books, answered their emails within minutes... They appeased me by saying his videos were like they'd taken me home with them. Either they realised I was pissed off and they needed to back track, or they gave a timely reminder that no matter how many times teachers repeat things, kids always need another reminder.

That man does look a proper twat in those shades with his collar turned up though...

GetOnYerBike Sun 30-Sep-18 17:50:41

Only one other person has mentioned the fantastic Mr Salles. I do like Mr Bruff but I really like Mr Salles.

speakingwoman Sat 06-Oct-18 12:46:41

Update here: 5 out of 8 for the Du Maurier extract......
Mr Bruff’s book arrives today.

May I ask another question: is characterisation per se also excluded?

So with the Jamaica Inn beginning, we noticed that only the last person described gets named. This suggests that she will be important/the main character. There is then a brief pen portrait of her staring out into the future, poised for adventure.... is this stuff about character ok to include?

OP’s posts: |
Thisreallyisafarce Sat 06-Oct-18 14:39:10

1) Impact of the first and last lines
2) Change - change of tone, change of pace, change of setting, change of viewpoint, change of time, change in granularity of description - any changes
3) patterns/motifs/tension/climaxes - anything where there is an accumulation of small choices designed to achieve a larger effect
4) characterisation does come into it, so a student might choose to answer by explaining how the first paragraph is largely used for characterisation (and why) whereas the second is about action (and why)
5) whether the writer chooses to narrow or widen the perspective/lens

All relevant. It's a hard question.

Thisreallyisafarce Sat 06-Oct-18 14:40:25

Bruff bores the pants off me, but Bruff knows his Stuff.

speakingwoman Sat 06-Oct-18 16:50:42

Farce, that’s very helpful.
Today we got postit notes and wrote down the “rules” for this question using Mr Salles’ video..

Then he started to rewrite his Du Maurier paper. His writing is gradually improving (I blame the SATS)....

But it’s so hard! I looked at the opening of 1984. It’s overwhelming-magnificent. Now, I suppose, I can say that Orwell makes the reader curious/eager/desperarately keen for an explanation as to how and why the clocks struck thirteen. But Orwell drops his bombshell then digresses and withholds the explanation.....

OP’s posts: |
Thisreallyisafarce Sat 06-Oct-18 17:17:01

Model answer - MaisyPops, mark it? grin

Orwell creates intrigue with the incongruous ending to his first line: "...and the clocks were striking thirteen." This immediately situates the reader in a fictional universe where some things, clearly, are very different, and will evoke a curiosity about what else might be different here.

Orwell then introduces the protagonist, Winston Smith. The narrative appears to be written in third person limited, and we are informed that Winston considers the wind to be 'vile', despite the initial optimistic tone created by the 'bright cold day'. A similar juxtapositional effect is created by the name of the building (Victory Mansions). The reader may begin to question which tone the rest of the extract will follow, toward the positive or the negative.

This ambiguity is quickly resolved by the grimness of the indoor setting: "boiled cabbage and old rag mats". As we track through the second and third paragraphs, a series of similarly underwhelming impressions creates a tone of deprivation and want: the lift that does not work, the intermittent electricity, blunt razor blades.

Woven through the extract are references to more intriguing aspects of Winston's surroundings that, gradually, begin to offer explanation of his environment. The "enormous face", in a prominent position in the hallway, is ignored by the protagonist, who is caught up in the more mundane concern of how to get up the stairs. This combines with the reference to the "telescreen" which cannot be turned off to create an overall impression of claustrophobia and control.

Thisreallyisafarce Sat 06-Oct-18 17:17:33

Doubt many students would write that much for 8 marks, but we can live in hope!

BringOnTheScience Sat 06-Oct-18 17:35:00

(Bring's DC1 typing here)
Good thing to bring up in a structure question is whether it's 'deductive' (starting wide then focusing on individual characters and details), or 'inductive' which is starting with detail/a character then zooming out, so to speak.

P.S Mr Bruff is a national hero

MaisyPops Sat 06-Oct-18 19:01:37

Doubt many students would write that much for 8 marks, but we can live in hope!
Not only that, but they don't have to!
I've got friends who have examined and it's fairly clear from the board that students aren't expected to write that much for the 8 mark questions.

P.S Mr Bruff is a national hero
I disagree. He's good, but no better than the team of English teachers I work with every day, no better than my previous department either. There are thousands of teachers doing what he does.
For the vast majority of students they'd get the same grades simply listening to their teachers (and probably get their grades because of the teachers who've taught them the course). If a few YouTube videos can solve teaching GCSE English then there's no need for a 2-3 year ks4.
Mr Bruff is good, but I find his self-congratulatory saviour persona quite grating.

Thisreallyisafarce Sat 06-Oct-18 19:04:00

MaisyPops

No, I know. I would write that much, but I know I wouldn't need to.

speakingwoman Sat 06-Oct-18 21:41:34

“Orwell then introduces the protagonist, Winston Smith. The narrative appears to be written in third person limited, and we are informed that Winston considers the wind to be 'vile', despite the initial optimistic tone created by the 'bright cold day'. A similar juxtapositional effect is created by the name of the building (Victory Mansions). The reader may begin to question which tone the rest of the extract will follow, toward the positive or the negative.”

Isn’t that a bit languagy?

OP’s posts: |
Thisreallyisafarce Sat 06-Oct-18 21:43:15

No. Juxtaposition or contrast is structural. Narrative perspective is structural. Time spend on characterisation is structural.

MaisyPops Sat 06-Oct-18 22:00:45

Juxtaposition can be either (just like sentence structures can be).

If analysed on a small level (e.g. juxtaposition between 2 ideas in a sentence) it can be used in the q2 response.
If it's how 2 opposing ideas at juxtaposed across the extract then it's structural.

Thisreallyisafarce Sat 06-Oct-18 22:03:04

Yes, that's fair. In this case, juxtaposition is structural.

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