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

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

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

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

Three ways to sneak Reading for Pleasure into the KS4 classroom

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… More Three ways to sneak Reading for Pleasure into the KS4 classroom

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

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

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

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

Textual Anaysis: Why Use a ‘Meaning First’ Approach?

In various A-Level English Language tasks, you’re asked to analyse text. This may be to comment on the meanings and representations created within it, or it may be in relation to a particular topic, such as child language acquisition or ethnicity. Whatever the task is, many students are tempted to jump on features that they… More Textual Anaysis: Why Use a ‘Meaning First’ Approach?

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

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

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

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

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

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