Category: English teaching

Do you do ‘200 word Challenges’ in English lessons? Here’s what they’re for…

English teachingGCSE English200 word challengescreative writingexam skillsnon-fictionwriting

Lots of schools started doing 200-word challenges as a quick way to sharpen up GCSE students’ writing skills. I’ve noticed, in working as a tutor, however, that not all students know why they’re doing them. If that’s you, read on – this is what they can help you achieve. They help remind you to use ….  Read More

PC Language: a ‘change’ and ‘diversity’ topic

A Level Eng LangEnglish teachingchangediversitygenderlanguagePC languageprescriptivismstandardisationtheorytopics

PC (or ‘politically correct’) language is a topic in English Language A Level that rather nicely illustrates how artificial it is to separate ideas into topics like ‘change’ and ‘diversity’. But, of course, we have to draw lines for the purposes of curriculum organisation. What this actually means for you as a student (or a ….  Read More

Four book covers and accompanying blurbs, recommending titles for fans of TV show The Big Bang Theory.

Three ways to sneak Reading for Pleasure into the KS4 classroom

English teachingGCSE Englishpromoting readingreadingreading for pleasureYAYA feature

I think (hope?) many of us can agree that GCSE set text lists do not inherently encourage students to become readers. By exposing young teenagers to  books deemed ‘classics’ or ‘great’ and requiring detailed analysis, we often in fact risk putting them off reading. This is, unfortunately, especially true for those not from a reading background ….  Read More

Recommended Resource (for English Lang A Level): Lexis Podcast

A Level Eng LangEnglish teachingindependent studylanguagenewspodcastresourcesreview

This excellent linguistics podcast started up this year and, at the time of posting, has had 8 episodes. It features four linguistics enthusiasts: Matthew Butler, Lisa Casey, Dan Clayton and Jacky Glancey, discussing language issues in the news and recent research. Most episodes have included an interview with an academic linguist about a specific topic ….  Read More

YA Book Feature: The State of Grace by Rachael Lucas (review plus teaching resources)

A Level Eng LangEnglish teachingGCSE Englishactivitiesautismcontemporarydisabilitydiversityexam practiceexam skillsgenderKS3neurodiversitynon-fictionown voicesreadingrepresentationresourceswritingYA feature

Age Range: 12+ (according to publisher’s website; I would happily use this throughout the secondary school – plenty to engage older teens, nothing ‘unsuitable’ for yr7/8, although they will be less interested in the romance aspects) Themes: family, friends, being different, romance Narrative style and genre: Strong first-person narration plants you firmly in Grace’s world and ….  Read More

YA Anthology feature: Proud, compiled by Juno Dawson (review and link to teaching resources)

A Level Eng LangEnglish teachingGCSE EnglishactivitiesanthologycontemporarydiversityfantasyLGBT represourcesshort storiesUKYA booksYAYA feature

Proud is Stripes Book’s third YA anthology and the second to consciously focus on a representation gap in the YA market. Like last year’s A Change is Gonna Come, this book is a triumph and strongly recommended as an addition to classroom and library shelves. The genius of boosting representation by anthology is in the implicit ….  Read More

YA Book Feature: A Change Is Gonna Come Anthology (review plus teaching resources)

A Level Eng LangEnglish teachingGCSE EnglishactivitiesanalysisanthologyBAMEdiversityexam practicelesson ideasnon-fictionrepresentationresourcesshort storiesUKYA booksYAYA feature

I have added to and adapted this slightly since its original run. There is more here for A Level Language in particular. Age range: YA (12+) Themes: as this is an anthology, these are really varied, but include: love, sexuality, racism, islamophobia, bereavement, refugees, OCD, friendship, punishment, fantasy, time travel, fairness, identity. Narrative style and genre: ….  Read More

Why can’t I write ‘it makes the reader want to read on’ – and what on earth do I write instead?

English teachingGCSE Englishanalysishow-tolanguageliteratureresponding to feedback

As teachers, we’re pre-programmed to sigh – or roll our eyes – when students write or say that fateful phrase ‘it makes the reader read on’. But here’s the thing: when we’re talking about things like chapter ends, cliffhangers and clever titles, writers DO choose things to keep us reading. After all ‘page-turner’ or ‘I ….  Read More