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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