AQA Paper 2 Source B – prior knowledge

 

AQA Paper 2 Source B: Two Letters about Cotherstone Academy

 

Links to previous posts:

 

An overview of my quest.

 

Analysis of AQA Paper 2 Source A.

 

This is my analysis of the second source from the AQA Specimen Insert for Paper 2: Two Letters about Cotherstone Academy.  I am trying to identify the prior knowledge needed for comprehension of the text.  To analyse the vocabulary used I have identified the Tier Two words (for more information about Tier Two words see Bringing Words to Life by Beck, McKeowan, Kucan).

 

There were 76 Tier Two words in the source, compared to 60 in Source A – so perhaps unsurprisingly more Tier Two words overall in this, the older, source. 

 

76 Tier Two words

 

 

 

 

 

academy

additional

advisable

approve

ascertain

assure

attention

barley meal

bear

cause

chaff

Christians

complain

confidentially

contents

convenience

course

Dear

desire

earliest

education

endeavour

endure

esteem

examined

excuse

favour

flog

fortnight

God

guided

honorable

improved

induced

injunction

intend

interview

Laid

lately

liberty

Master

meek

mention

Mr

nor

notice

object

obliged

office

opportunity

opposite

particularly

permit

pray

principal

public

recollect

Rely

request

respectful

respectfully

servant

several

Sir

sly

stuffed

system

therefore

thus

treatment

troubling

upon

whether

worship

X

Xmas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tier Two words – common across both sources:

 

 

 

attention

whether

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I searched for the Tier Two words from Source B in the British National Corpus (BNC) to see how frequently these words occurred and in what kind of texts.

 

Importance of fiction as prior context

 

The most prominent context, where these Tier Two words occurred most frequently, were academic texts (23), with fiction texts a close second (21).  I find it slightly surprising that, like for source A, fiction scores so highly as a context for the Tier Two words in a non-fiction source.  Of the 22 least frequently occurring words in the corpus, 12 had fiction as their dominant context.  The reading of fiction seems to be a good preparation for gaining knowledge of the vocabulary that appears in non-fiction texts.    

 

Academic texts as prior context

 

Academic texts are even more prominent as a context for these words than they were for Source A Tier Two words. I was sceptical about the amount for Source A, thinking it might have something to do with the topic being homework, but their prominence for Source B may indicate their importance as a resource for encountering Tier Two words in general.  In which case the question is – how often are secondary school students exposed to academic writing?  (Would text books count?)  I have always recommended the reading of good quality newspapers as a way of encountering different words but newspapers are not showing up as often as I had expected as a context in the corpus searches.  I suppose the advice still holds good for performance in English in general, as newspapers provide good models for opinion writing, but maybe they are not doing the job with vocabulary that I assumed they were.    

 

Verbs

 

Out of the 22 least frequently occurring words in the corpus – 9 were verbs (flog, recollect, troubling, esteem, endure, ascertain, endeavour, stuffed, assure).  This ratio of verbs is higher than in Source A.  ‘Flog’ might be particularly problematic as it has a different meaning (sell) that might be more familiar to students than its meaning in the source (to beat or hit).

 

Other useful knowledge

 

In order to understand the letters I think that it is probably useful to realise how far apart Yorkshire and Islington are (220 miles) and that in 1822, before railways, it would have taken several days to make the journey (about 30 hours of actual travelling plus any stops/overnight stays).  This might explain why the father would ask a friend to find out more, rather than visiting the school himself, before making a decision about whether or not the brothers should be allowed to come home.

 

William Heritage finishes his letter to his friend by signing ‘Your obliged honourable servant’ which could cause a bit of confusion if ‘servant’ was taken to mean that he was literally the man’s employee.

 

Next Step

 

Design some vocabulary tests to test students’ knowledge of these Tier Two words to see how far their familiarity with the words correlates to the corpus frequency rates.

 

Appendices

 

Tier 2 Words – Alphabetical order

 

Tier 2 Word

Type of word – in context

British National Corpus Frequency

Largest context

Academy

Noun

1367

Magazine

Additional

Adjective

7232

Academic/misc

Advisable

Adjective

529

Misc/magazine

Approve

Verb

1022

Fiction

Ascertain

Verb

529

Academic

assure

Verb

916

Fiction

attention

Noun

13186

Academic

Barley Meal

Noun

1

Fiction

Bear

Noun

5536

Fiction

Cause

Noun

12889

Academic

Chaff

Noun – defined in glossary

75

Spoken

Christians

Noun

1580

Misc

complain

Verb

1299

Magazine/newspaper – pretty even

confidentially

Adverb

72

Fiction (by far)

contents

Noun

2829

Misc/academic

convenience

Noun

902

Misc

course

Noun

48654

7866 spoken – which might be ‘of course’

Dear

Adjective

8411

Spoken/Fiction

desire

Noun

5282

Academic

earliest

Adjective

1944

Non-academic

Education

Noun

25683

Academic

endeavour

Verb

679

Misc/non-academic

endure

Verb

511

Fiction

esteem

Verb

407

Non-academic

examined

Verb

3465

Academic

excuse

Verb

2904

Spoken/fiction

Favour

Noun

6681

Academic

Flog

Verb

71

Spoken/magazine

fortnight,

Noun

1408

Newspaper/spoken

God

Noun

22658

Spoken/misc/fiction

guided

Verb

1221

Misc

honorable

Adjective

5

Newspaper (honourable, 858 – spoken of which 312 were in parliament)

improved

Verb

4734

Non academic/misc

induced

Verb

1362

Academic

injunction

Noun

788

Academic

intend

Verb

2010

Fiction/misc

interview

Noun

4522

Newspaper – non fiction pretty even

laid

Verb

5717

Fiction

lately

Adverb

800

Fiction

Liberty

Noun

1359

Academic

Master

Noun

6280

Fiction

meek

Adjective

152

Newspaper/Fiction

mention

Verb

4456

Fiction/Spoken

Mr

Abbreviation

50446

Newspaper

nor

Conjunction

11879

Academic

notice

Noun

8801

Academic

object

Noun

6133

Non-academic/academic

obliged

Verb

1969

Academic

October

Noun

10356

Non-academic

Office

Noun

24397

Newspaper

opportunity

Noun

10026

Misc

opposite

Adjective

5747

Fiction

particularly

Adverb

21506

Academic

permit

Verb

1613

Academic

pray

Interjection

1418

Misc/fiction

principal

Adjective

4790

Non-academic

Public

Adjective

38032

Academic

recollect

Verb

113

Fiction/spoken

rely

Verb

2661

Academic

request

Verb

4338

Misc

respectful

Adjective

212

Fiction

respectfully

Adverb

161

Fiction

servant

Noun

1674

Fiction

several

Determiner

23130

Non-academic

Sir

Noun

18232

Fiction

sly

Adjective

301

Fiction

stuffed

Verb

872

Fiction

System

Noun

43583

Non-academic

therefore

Connector

22840

Academic

thus

Adverb

20054

Academic

Treatment

Noun

12051

Academic

Troubling

Verb

150

Fiction

Upon

Preposition

22628

Academic

whether

Conjunction

35155

Academic/spoken

Worship

Proper noun

1583

Misc

Xmas

Noun

39

Misc

 

 

 

Tier 2 Words – in order of BNC frequency

 

 

 

Tier 2 Word

Type of word – in context

British National Corpus Frequency

Largest context

Mr

Abbreviation

50446

Newspaper

course

Noun

48654

7866 spoken – which might be ‘of course’.  No results for collocations of ‘course’ and ‘of’ where ‘of’ comes afterwards.

System

Noun

43583

Non-academic

Public

Adjective

38032

Academic

whether

Conjunction

35155

Academic/spoken

Education

Noun

25683

Academic

Office

Noun

24397

Newspaper

several

Determiner

23130

Non-academic

therefore

Connector

22840

Academic

God

Noun

22658

Spoken/misc/fiction

Upon

Preposition

22628

Academic

particularly

Adverb

21506

Academic

thus

Adverb

20054

Academic

Sir

Noun

18232

Fiction

attention

Noun

13186

Academic

Cause

Noun

12889

Academic

Treatment

Noun

12051

Academic

nor

Conjunction

11879

Academic

opportunity

Noun

10026

Misc

notice

Noun

8801

Academic

Dear

Adjective

8411

Spoken/Fiction

additional

Adjective

7232

Academic/misc

Favour

Noun

6681

Academic

Master

Noun

6280

Fiction

object

Noun

6133

Non-academic/academic

opposite

Adjective

5747

Fiction

laid

Verb

5717

Fiction

Bear

Noun

5536

Fiction

desire

Noun

5282

Academic

principal

Adjective

4790

Non-academic

improved

Verb

4734

Non academic/misc

interview

Noun

4522

Newspaper – non fiction pretty even

mention

Verb

4456

Fiction/Spoken

request

Verb

4338

Misc

examined

Verb

3465

Academic

excuse

Verb

2904

Spoken/fiction

contents

Noun

2829

Misc/academic

Rely

Verb

2661

Academic

Intend

Verb

2010

Fiction/misc

Obliged

Verb

1969

Academic

Earliest

Adjective

1944

Non-academic

Servant

Noun

1674

Fiction

Permit

Verb

1613

Academic

Worship

Proper noun

1583

Misc

Christians

Noun

1580

Misc

Pray

Interjection

1418

Misc/fiction

fortnight,

Noun

1408

Newspaper/spoken

Academy

Noun

1367

Magazine

Induced

Verb

1362

Academic

Liberty

Noun

1359

Academic

complain

Verb

1299

Magazine/newspaper – pretty even

Guided

Verb

1221

Misc

approve

Verb

1022

Fiction

Assure

Verb

916

Fiction

convenience

Noun

902

Misc

Stuffed

Verb

872

Fiction

Lately

Adverb

800

Fiction

injunction

Noun

788

Academic

endeavour

Verb

679

Misc/non-academic

advisable

Adjective

529

Misc/magazine

ascertain

Verb

529

Academic

Endure

Verb

511

Fiction

Esteem

Verb

407

Non-academic

Sly

Adjective

301

Fiction

respectful

Adjective

212

Fiction

respectfully

Adverb

161

Fiction

Meek

Adjective

152

Newspaper/Fiction

Troubling

Verb

150

Fiction

recollect

Verb

113

Fiction/spoken

Chaff

Noun – defined in glossary

75

Spoken

confidentially

Adverb

72

Fiction (by far)

Flog

Verb

71

Spoken/magazine

Xmas

Noun

39

Misc

honorable

Adjective

5

Newspaper (honourable, 858 – spoken of which 312 were in parliament and 35 written were Hansard.  Remaining 511 – misc and fiction)

Barley Meal

Noun

1

Fiction

 

 

 

Tier 2 words – in order of largest context

 

 

 

Tier 2 Word

Type of word – in context

British National Corpus Frequency

Largest context

permit

Verb

1613

Academic

additional

Adjective

7232

Academic/misc

whether

Conjunction

35155

Academic/spoken

obliged

Verb

1969

Academic

notice

Noun

8801

Academic

nor

Conjunction

11879

Academic

Liberty

Noun

1359

Academic

injunction

Noun

788

Academic

induced

Verb

1362

Academic

Favour

Noun

6681

Academic

examined

Verb

3465

Academic

Education

Noun

25683

Academic

Desire

Noun

5282

Academic

Cause

Noun

12889

Academic

attention

Noun

13186

Academic

Ascertain

Verb

529

Academic

Upon

Preposition

22628

Academic

Treatment

Noun

12051

Academic

Thus

Adverb

20054

Academic

Therefore

Connector

22840

Academic

Rely

Verb

2661

Academic

Public

Adjective

38032

Academic

particularly

Adverb

21506

Academic

confidentially

Adverb

72

Fiction (by far)

Intend

Verb

2010

Fiction/misc

Recollect

Verb

113

Fiction/spoken

Mention

Verb

4456

Fiction/Spoken

respectfully

Adverb

161

Fiction

respectful

Adjective

212

Fiction

Opposite

Adjective

5747

Fiction

Master

Noun

6280

Fiction

Lately

Adverb

800

Fiction

Laid

Verb

5717

Fiction

Endure

Verb

511

Fiction

Bear

Noun

5536

Fiction

Barley Meal

Noun

1

Fiction

assure

Verb

916

Fiction

approve

Verb

1022

Fiction

Troubling

Verb

150

Fiction

stuffed

Verb

872

Fiction

sly

Adjective

301

Fiction

Sir

Noun

18232

Fiction

servant

Noun

1674

Fiction

Academy

Noun

1367

Magazine

complain

Verb

1299

Magazine/newspaper – pretty even

Christians

Noun

1580

Misc

convenience

Noun

902

Misc

guided

verb

1221

Misc

opportunity

Noun

10026

Misc

request

Verb

4338

Misc

Worship

Proper noun

1583

Misc

Xmas

Noun

39

Misc

contents

Noun

2829

Misc/academic

pray

Interjection

1418

Misc/fiction

advisable

Adjective

529

Misc/magazine

endeavour

Verb

679

Misc/non-academic

Mr

Abbreviation

50446

Newspaper

Office

Noun

24397

Newspaper

interview

Noun

4522

Newspaper – non fiction pretty even

honorable

Adjective

5

Newspaper (honourable, 858 – spoken of which 312 were in parliament)

meek

Adjective

152

Newspaper/Fiction

fortnight,

Noun

1408

Newspaper/spoken

improved

Verb

4734

Non academic/misc

August/Aug

Noun

7826

Non-academic

earliest

Adjective

1944

Non-academic

esteem

Verb

407

Non-academic

October

Noun

10356

Non-academic

principal

Adjective

4790

Non-academic

several

Determiner

23130

Non-academic

System

Noun

43583

Non-academic

object

Noun

6133

Non-academic/academic

chaff

Noun – defined in glossary

75

Spoken

Course

Noun

48654

spoken 7866 – which might be ‘of course’

Dear

Adjective

8411

Spoken/Fiction

excuse

verb

2904

Spoken/fiction

flog

Verb

71

Spoken/magazine

God

Noun

22658

Spoken/misc/fiction

 

 

 

 

 

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AQA Paper 2 Source A: Prior knowledge

AQA Paper 2 Source A: ‘Could you do your child’s homework?’

For an overview of my quest see this post.

This is my analysis of the first source from the AQA Specimen Insert for Paper 2: ‘Could you do your child’s homework?’.  I am trying to identify the prior knowledge needed for comprehension of the text.

Tier Two words

I haven’t used any particular lists to decide what a Tier Two word is (I’m still waiting for my copy of Bringing Words to Life to arrive).  I used the rough definition that Tier Two words are those we are mostly likely to encounter in written texts rather than spoken.   

Tier Two words

 

 

 

 

 

academic

announced

assignment

attempts

attention

available

baffled

childhood

chilly

conga

dragging

dread

educate

efforts

emptiness

especially

expand

experimenting

finely

firmly

flunked

Google

grades

humiliation

idleness

imposition

increasingly

Jay

manage

marks

memories

merry

mickey

mocking

nosebleed

obscure

powers

received

refuses

remorselessly

ruined

scenario

seep

sense

setback

shamelessly

single

slapping

solidarity

straightforward

tough

typical

voice

website

weeds

weighed

whether

wondering

worth

wrench

 

A search on the British National Corpus then showed the frequency of these words in the corpus and in which kind of texts they appear.   (Details of these searches are show in the tables in the appendices at the end of the blog.)

Fiction

The corpus searches seem to show that, even for this non-fiction text, the reading of fiction gives the best chance of having encountered these words before.   In total 22 out of 57 words from the Tier Two list, that appeared in the corpus, were most frequently found in fiction.  12 out of the 19 most unusual words (least frequently occurring in the corpus) are usually found in fiction – this goes up to 13 if I changed ‘seep’  to ‘seeped’ and ‘seeping’ – then the frequencies changed to being predominantly from fiction. 

Other contexts

Academic text was quite dominant as a context in which these Tier Two words were found.  I’m not sure if this is because of the topic of the text (homework) or if 13 out of 57 is usual.

Newspapers and magazines, at 11 out of 57 were less frequent as contexts than I would expect for an article – again I’m not sure if this is typical.

Surprising findings

·         Nosebleed got a surprising low score (even if I added ‘nose bleed’ – which gets an additional 6 frequency hits making 13 in total), but I do not think that this would not be a problem word for most students.

·         Flunked (flunk gets a frequency of 4, flunking gets 1) this is a North American word so would be interesting to see if students are more familiar with this than the corpus suggests through film, television and new media. 

Phrases/images/idioms

I identified 6 phrases in the extract that needed to be understood as a whole rather than just as individual words.

Phrases

    

In the weeds 

weighed down
merry dance                                                                                                                                         

wrench things out
memories of homework came flooding back                                                                          

take the mickey                               

 

 

Fiction

Fiction texts dominated as the most frequent source for these phrases.  The phrase ‘in the weeds’ was not very frequently used at all, especially in its metaphorical sense.  Neither were ‘merry dance’ or the idea to ‘wrench things out’ – I think all these phrases are key to understanding how the writer felt about the homework.

Next Steps

I will analyse Source B in the same way.

I would really like to compare year 11 students’ knowledge of these words and phrases to the BNC findings.  Do the least frequently occurring words correspond to those that are not understood?  It would also be interesting to find out whether or not knowledge of these words and phrases corresponds to performance on the paper.

If I design some vocabulary tests based on these words would anybody else be interested in using them with their classes?

 (PS – I am new to both blogging and research so any constructive criticism or corrections very welcome J.) 

Appendices

Tier Two word list in alphabetical order:

Tier 2 Word

Type of word – in context

British National Corpus Frequency

Largest context:

academic

Adjective

4762

Academic

Announced

Verb

9853

Non-academic

Assignment

Noun

1129

Academic

attempts

Verb

5066

Academic

attention

Noun

13186

Academic

available

Adjective

26664

Misc

baffled

Verb

318

Fiction/closely followed by newspaper

Childhood

Noun

2751

Fiction and misc

Chilly

Adjective

335

Fiction

Conga

Given a definition in the glossary on the insert

13

Spoken

Dragging

Verb

684

Fiction

Dread

Noun

551

Fiction

Educate

Verb

364

Non-academic (but quite even except fiction)

Efforts

Noun

5430

Non-academic

Emptiness

Noun

300

Fiction

Especially

Adverb

17144

Academic

expand

Verb

1726

Non-academic

Experimenting

Verb

311

Magazine

finely

Adverb

678

Magazine

firmly

Adverb

3793

Fiction

flunked

Verb

10

Magazine

Google

Proper noun

Doesn’t appear in corpus

grades

Noun

831

academic

Humiliation

Noun

557

fiction

Idleness

Noun

149

fiction

Imposition

Noun

670

Academic and non-academic about the same

Increasingly

Adverb

6494

Academic

Jay

Proper noun

Doesn’t appear in corpus

Manage

Verb

3903

fiction

marks

Noun

4301

Newspaper

Memories

Noun

2498

Fiction

merry

Adjective

504

Fiction

Mickey

noun

4952

Spoken and Newspaper

Mocking

Adjective

409

Fiction

Nosebleed

Noun

7

Fiction

Obscure

Verb

1159

Academic

Pac-Men

Given a definition in the glossary on the insert

Doesn’t appear in corpus

powers

Noun

6710

Academic

Received

Verb

12882

Misc, then newspaper

refuses

Verb

725

Newspaper

Remorselessly

Adverb

67

Fiction

ruined

Verb

1070

Fiction

Scenario

Noun

714

Spoken

seep

Verb

104

magazine

sense

Noun

21190

Academic

setback

Noun

381

Newspaper

Shamelessly

Adverb

68

Fiction

single

Adjective

17649

Magazine

Slapping

Verb

216

Fiction

Solidarity

Noun

1026

Non-academic

Straightforward

Adjective

1926

academic

tough

Adjective

3073

Newspaper

typical

Adjective

4737

Academic

voice

Noun

23205

Fiction and newspaper

Website

Noun

Doesn’t appear in corpus

weeds

Noun

549

Magazine

Weighed

Verb

6304

Fiction (just pretty equal)

Whether

Conjunction

281240

Academic and spoken

Wondering

Verb

18320

Fiction

worth

Adjective

95024

Newspaper and magazine

wrench

Verb

1424

Fiction

 

Tier Two word list in frequency order:

Word

Type of word – in context

British National Corpus Frequency

Largest context:

Whether

Conjunction

281240

Academic and spoken

Worth

Adjective

95024

Newspaper and magazine

Available

Adjective

26664

Misc

Voice

Noun

23205

Fiction and newspaper

Sense

Noun

21190

Academic

Wondering

Verb

18320

Fiction

Single

Adjective

17649

Magazine

Especially

Adverb

17144

Academic

Attention

Noun

13186

Academic

Received

Verb

12882

Misc, then newspaper

Announced

Verb

9853

Non-academic

Powers

Noun

6710

Academic

Increasingly

Adverb

6494

Academic

Weighed

Verb

6304

Fiction (just pretty equal)

Efforts

Noun

5430

Non-academic

Attempts

Verb

5066

Academic

Mickey

Noun

4952

Spoken and Newspaper

Academic

Adjective

4762

Academic

Typical

Adjective

4737

Academic

Marks

Noun

4301

Newspaper

Manage

Verb

3903

fiction

Firmly

Adverb

3793

Fiction

Tough

Adjective

3073

Newspaper

Childhood

Noun

2751

Fiction and misc

Memories

Noun

2498

Fiction

Straightforward

Adjective

1926

academic

Expand

Verb

1726

Non-academic

Wrench

Verb

1424

Fiction

Obscure

Verb

1159

Academic

Assignment

Noun

1129

Academic

Ruined

Verb

1070

Fiction

Solidarity

Noun

1026

Non-academic

Grades

Noun

831

academic

Refuses

Verb

725

Newspaper

Scenario

Noun

714

Spoken

Dragging

Verb

684

Fiction

Finely

Adverb

678

Magazine

Imposition

Noun

670

Academic and non-academic about the same

Humiliation

Noun

557

fiction

Dread

Noun

551

Fiction

Weeds

Noun

549

Magazine

Merry

Adjective

504

Fiction

Mocking

Adjective

409

Fiction

Setback

Noun

381

Newspaper

Educate

Verb

364

Non-academic (but quite even except fiction)

Chilly

Adjective

335

Fiction

Baffled

Verb

318

Fiction/closely followed by newspaper

Experimenting

Verb

311

Magazine

Emptiness

Noun

300

Fiction

Slapping

Verb

216

Fiction

Idleness

Noun

149

Fiction

Seep

Verb

104

magazine

Shamelessly

Adverb

68

Fiction

Remorselessly

Adverb

67

Fiction

Conga

Given a definition in the glossary on the insert

13

Spoken

Flunked

Verb

10

Magazine

Nosebleed

Noun

7

Fiction

Google

Proper noun

Doesn’t appear in corpus

Jay

Proper noun

Doesn’t appear in corpus

Pac-Men

Given a definition in the glossary on the insert

Doesn’t appear in corpus

Website

Noun

Doesn’t appear in corpus

 

Tier Two word list in order of contexts:

Tier 2 Word

Type of word – in context

British National Corpus Frequency

Largest context:

mickey

noun

4952

Spoken and Newspaper

conga

Given a definition in the glossary on the insert

13

Spoken

scenario

Noun

714

Spoken

imposition

Noun

670

Academic and non-academic about the same

solidarity

Noun

1026

Non-academic

expand

Verb

1726

Non-academic

efforts

Noun

5430

Non-academic

announced

Verb

9853

Non-academic

worth

Adjective

95024

Newspaper and magazine

setback

Noun

381

Newspaper

refuses

Verb

725

Newspaper

tough

Adjective

3073

Newspaper

marks

Noun

4301

Newspaper

received

Verb

12882

Misc, then newspaper

available

Adjective

26664

Misc

flunked

Verb

10

Magazine

seep

Verb

104

Magazine

experimenting

Verb

311

Magazine

weeds

Noun

549

Magazine

finely

Adverb

678

Magazine

single

Adjective

17649

Magazine

baffled

Verb

318

Fiction/closely followed by newspaper

voice

Noun

23205

Fiction and newspaper

childhood

Noun

2751

Fiction and misc

weighed

Verb

6304

Fiction (just pretty equal)

nosebleed

Noun

7

Fiction

remorselessly

Adverb

67

Fiction

shamelessly

Adverb

68

Fiction

idleness

Noun

149

Fiction

slapping

Verb

216

Fiction

emptiness

Noun

300

Fiction

chilly

Adjective

335

Fiction

mocking

Adjective

409

Fiction

merry

Adjective

504

Fiction

dread

Noun

551

Fiction

humiliation

Noun

557

Fiction

dragging

Verb

684

Fiction

ruined

Verb

1070

Fiction

wrench

Verb

1424

Fiction

memories

Noun

2498

Fiction

firmly

Adverb

3793

Fiction

manage

Verb

3903

Fiction

wondering

Verb

18320

Fiction

whether

Conjunction

281240

Academic and spoken

grades

Noun

831

Academic

assignment

Noun

1129

Academic

obscure

Verb

1159

Academic

straightforward

Adjective

1926

Academic

typical

Adjective

4737

Academic

academic

Adjective

4762

Academic

attempts

Verb

5066

Academic

increasingly

Adverb

6494

Academic

powers

Noun

6710

Academic

attention

Noun

13186

Academic

especially

Adverb

17144

Academic

sense

Noun

21190

Academic

google

Proper noun

Doesn’t appear in corpus

Jay

Proper noun

Doesn’t appear in corpus

Pac-Men

Given a definition in the glossary on the insert

Doesn’t appear in corpus

website

Noun

Doesn’t appear in corpus

 

Combinations of words (images/idioms):

Phrase

British National Corpus Frequency

Contexts:

‘in the weeds’

9 occurrences – (6 which meant literally to be in amongst weeds)

3 occurrences to mean bogged down in detail or stuck in problems

Fiction

‘weighed down’

85 occurrences (36 which meant literally carrying heavy things)

49 meant burdened with something metaphorically

17  Fiction

11 Newspapers

‘memories of homework came flooding back’

23 occurrences of ‘flooding’ collocated with ‘memories’

6 fiction

8 news

‘merry dance’

9 (1 which referred to ‘merry dance of death’, 2 which meant fun)

6 which meant – used to trick or confuse

1 fiction

2 newspaper

2 pop lore (?)

‘wrench things out’

5 occurrences of ‘wrench’ collocated with ‘out’

3 fiction

2 pop lore (?)

‘take the mickey’

19 occurrences of ‘mickey’ collocated with ‘take’ (1 was a reference to marriage ‘take Mickey’)

2 speech

4 fiction

5 newspapers

1 pop lore

2 academic

1 non-academic

2 biography

 

 

 

What do they need to know?

Analysis of AQA Source A
Analysis of AQA Source B
Analysis of Edexcel Text 1
Analysis of Edexcel Text 2
Analysis of WJEC Section A
Analysis of WJEC Section B

 My Quest

I want to find out what students need to know to pass their English Language GCSE. 

The Ofqual subject content and assessment objectives largely specifies what students need to be able to do (‘read and understand’ and ‘communicate clearly’) and gives exam boards some criteria about the types of texts that should be used (they must be ‘from the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries’ and ‘must include literature and extended literary non-fiction’).    

I want to find out what knowledge is needed in order to be able to understand the texts (and then ‘identify and interpret’, ‘select and synthesise’, ‘explain, comment on and analyse’, ‘compare’ and ‘evaluate’) and to be able to communicate (‘clearly, effectively and imaginatively’, ‘organise information and ideas’ and ‘use a range of vocabulary and sentence structures’) through the creation of texts.

First I will focus on reading. 

This blog by The Learning Spy (David Didau) first introduced me to ideas about the vocabulary and general knowledge that underpins comprehension.  Tier Two words seemed to be a good place to start. 

(If you want to read more about tier two words here are some blog posts I found useful: Doug Lemov, ‘On Vocabulary: What is a ‘Tier One’ Word?’; The Learning Spy, ‘Closing the language gap: Building vocabulary’; The Wing to Heaven, ‘Teaching Content Rich Lessons’.)

The first step in my quest will be identifying the Tier Two words in the specimen material provided by the exam boards.  I will then use the British National Language Corpus to try and identify what sort of texts students will have had to have read in order to have come across these Tier Two words before.

I will post as I go,  sharing the stages of my investigations.