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

 

 

 

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