Model Answers for AQA Language Paper Higher Tier

These might be of use for students studying the higher paper. They're model answers to the November 2014 paper that I've written. (Perhaps worthy of holding up to students as a model of average writing).

Question 3 - Extract from Bill Bryson's Notes from a Small Island

Explain the writer’s thoughts and feelings:

Model Answer

In this extract we learn more about Bryson’s feelings than his thoughts. He sets the emotional landscape with reference to the weather, which he describes as ‘foggy’ and the streets, which are ‘sleeping’ and ‘low-lit’. This creates a melancholy feel that is reflected in the author’s experience of the evening. His relaxed, slightly diffident nature, however, is in contrast with the seriousness of his situation. He is homeless in a foreign country and the hotels and guesthouses seem abandoned. He records his response to this as ‘only mildly dismaying’. Clearly, this is deliberate understatement for an ironic effect: it is an extremely worrying situation and the language here subtly draws out how worrying it is.

In terms of his thoughts, we are given a narrative, both external and internal. He wonders what to do, then rejoices ‘Hooray’ when a potential solution appears. This solution is built up through and internally constructed dialogue with the imaginary owner of the guesthouse in which Bryson paints himself as humble and the guesthouse owner as the model of British hospitality. He builds this dialogue deliberately to sharpen the bathos of the guesthouse owner’s real response.

Question 4 – Comparison of Language Features in ‘Home Time’ by Jane Lapotaire and ‘Island children bask in the glow of a virtual classroom’ by Lindsay McIntosh in The Times

Model Answer

The language features in the Times article and Home Time are affected by their purpose: the Times exists to inform readers as to what is happening in the present whereas Home Time gives readers an insight into the writer’s childhood. As such the tenses and the person are different: The Times is in third-person present tense, Home Time in first-person past tense.

Syntactically, they are again affected by their purpose. The Times is stylistically less affected and contains a variety of different sentence structures: some complex sentences featuring parenthetical clauses or interjections marked off with pairs of dashes “- population about 200 –”, sentences featuring three-item lists, “ participate … contests.” These stylistic devices, combined with the amount of factual detail are in keeping with the article’s purpose. The style of Home Time is altogether more notable. It is describing personal, emotional responses to past events and to convey urgency and excitement the writer in the third paragraph uses only short simple sentences to suggest the breathlessness of excitement. These invariably start with the first person as the subject and, though this is a convention of autobiography, their repetition suggests a child-like narrator. There is repetition in The Times piece, but this is altogether more subtle and is of superlatives to indicate the groundbreaking nature of the project and why is has appeared in a ‘news’paper ‘first national education intranet’, ‘first school using glow’, ‘most innovative education scheme’.

In terms of the use of figurative language again Home Time is more liberal in its use” metaphors are used to convey sensory colour: ‘pools of white’, ‘jets of steam-like breath’ and adjectives of colour are routinely used: ‘black and red uniforms’, ‘blue and green scarf’, ‘the lights were green’. Overuse of adjectives of colour might be thought something a childish writer might be prone to, and it could be that the writer is trying to invoke a child’s mindset through this as a technique (or it might be that she is a childish writer). The Times’ use of adjectives is more expository and they are used to help readers imagine the scene: the ‘single-track’ road, the ‘beautiful, barren’ landscape.

So what do we learn?
That we plan this answer in three paragraphs: the first analyses broad structural features and relates these to purpose; the second looks at syntax; the third looks at figurative language.

Added Tue, 9 Feb 2016 14:55

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