Throughout the Secondary school the English department offers integrated programmes in Language and Literature.
We currently follow the CIE iGCSE courses for Language and Literature, which include analysis and comparison of text types looking at presentational and linguistic features; literatures of all genres from a range of cultures, including classics, and a focus on the spoken voice.
We offer a range of options at IB: Literature, Language and Literature, Literature and Performance and Language B.
The Year 7 English course presents students with the opportunity to enjoy a wide range of literary and linguistic forms, both as independent learners and as part of a team.
The aim of the course is to build confidence, awareness and knowledge of the English language as used in a huge variety of different media ranging from formal presentations, advertisements and debates to contemporary novels, poetry and landmark historical stories and plays.
Students will have the opportunity to prepare their own presentations, write their own works of fiction and do all of this with an amenable introduction to writers as influential as Chaucer and Shakespeare.
Throughout the year students will also be challenged to stretch their own language skills and vocabulary so as to be able to comprehend and articulate detailed responses to the material being studied.
Pupils will regularly be encouraged and monitored in their independent reading and offered suitable suggestions as to what they may enjoy reading outside class and how to appreciate thoughtful reading as a useful skill and a lifelong pleasure.
In Year 8, students are encouraged to extend their knowledge of English literature and language to a level capable of dealing with famous texts, literary genres, group debates and detailed original compositions.
Students will be given the opportunity to show off their Shakespearean English, grapple with the creepy Gothic genre, pose as poets and study the news as they develop their language and analysis skills both independently and in small groups.
Throughout the year students are advised on how to enhance their reading and comprehension skills while also being encouraged to deploy in their own work the various writing styles and language structures they encounter in their reading.
Over the course of Year 8, students are guided towards books suitable and challenging for them as passionate readers and independent learners, each aimed at developing and nurturing an interest in and awareness of the English language.
The Year 9 English course aims to establish and consolidate the key foundational skills required to advance confidently into the externally examined GCSE course of Year 10.
Over the course of the year, students are encouraged to explore a novel and a selection of speeches from Shakespearean tragedies in depth and detail, preparing them for the analytical rigours of iGCSE, while also being invited to consider the role of English within a more global framework by studying world literature and advertising. Finally, they have an opportunity to prepare for the transition into iGCSE.
The course provides, therefore, a varied and diverse tour through some of the English language ́s most revealing and compelling expressions in art and media, while also allowing independent research and discovery alongside team work and collaboration.
Building on the reading habits acquired in Year 8, students are aided with their independent reading outside of class and encouraged to be reflective, critical and thoughtful readers as well as performing as articulate and capable contributors to group discussion: life skills which have an application beyond their importance to the study of Language and Literature.
iGCSEs English Language and English Literature
During Year 10 and 11, students work towards two iGCSEs in English: Language and Literature, studying the Cambridge International Examinations (CIE) syllabus. The iGCSE English courses are taken as First Language studies, are aimed primarily at students with mother tongue proficiency and are assessed accordingly.
These courses are not required to be taken together, but we would expect the vast majority of our students to enter for both. Although they are not interdependent, as was the case with the previous GCSE syllabi, they are interlinked in many ways through skills, general proficiency and sometimes topic, and are therefore taught in an integrated fashion. In both cases, the courses build on skills learned and texts studied at Key Stage Three and provide a platform from which to begin further Language A studies at IB.
Language (Specification: CIE 0500)
In iGCSE Language, students are required to have strong analytical skills which are applied to a variety of texts. Under exam conditions, they will respond to unseen texts in a variety of ways, including an extended piece of writing, shorter pieces showing detailed engagement with text and in employing summary skills. Throughout the course, in their writing, they are required to show an awareness of central issues such as audience, purpose, text type and tone. Students are therefore exposed to a number of different non-fiction text types during the course, through exploration of a variety of topics. There is no requirement as to the topics that may be chosen, but they could include areas such as ‘Travel’, ‘Ideas and Technology’, ‘Nature’, ‘People and Society’. The choice of topics may differ from class to class, as deemed appropriate by the teacher.
In all areas of assessment, students are required to demonstrate a variety of skills. In reading, these include: understanding of both explicit and implicit meaning; analysing and developing facts, ideas and opinions; selecting for specific purposes; understanding how writers work. In writing, skills include: using thoughts, feelings and imagination in writing; sequencing fact and opinion; using appropriate vocabulary and register; using grammar, spelling and punctuation accurately.
Literature (Specification: CIE 0486)
In iGCSE Literature, students study four texts over the whole course. These include: a collection of poetry, a prose text (novel or short story collection), a Shakespeare text and one additional text chosen freely at the discretion of the teacher. During the course, students will be required to develop strong analytical skills, through close reading and also to consider broader issues such as theme, character and the author’s style. CIE change the texts slightly every year and teachers are free to choose the texts best suited to the needs of their group.
A note on timing
Classes may well tackle different parts of the course at different times across each year, aiming towards covering the same areas by the end of Year 10 and then again by exam time in Year 11. As a result, classes may also undertake different tasks at different times.
Summative assessment on both courses takes place in two ways: formal examinations and coursework. One full exam will be written by all students during the scheduled Internal Examination period in Year 10, as well as a shorter Literature exam during class time around this time. Trial examinations will take place in January of Year 11, when students will sit both full Language and Literature examinations. At the end of the course in Year 11, students undertake four examinations:
1. English Language (2 hours)
2. English Literature Component 1: Poetry and Prose (1 hour and 30 minutes)
3. English Literature Component 3: Drama (45 minutes)
4. English Literature Component 4: Unseen (1 hour and 15 minutes)
Through the course of the two years, however, we are more concerned to undertake ongoing, formative assessment which may take place in variety of forms, including: short to longer to essay length written pieces, oral work, and a variety of more creative responses. This is not only a more effective way to prepare students for any form of assessment, formal or informal, and to pave the way towards Language A studies in the IB, but also links to the school pedagogy.
Coursework at iGCSE
The Language course contains a coursework element. There is no requirement that all students submit on the same topic. CIE training encourages teachers to look for coursework opportunities that arise naturally from learning taking place in lessons. Coursework assignments, as well as final pieces, will therefore differ from class to class and students will complete a range of pieces of extended work which could form part of their coursework portfolio.
In Language, students must submit a portfolio of three assignments, each of which covers a specific type of writing. The folder is given a universal mark, and is worth 50 % of the final mark. Folders are moderated externally.
In both subjects, students may make full use of dictionaries and thesauri and, if word processing work, spell check. Typos will, however, be considered to be mistakes. Students will be given a checklist to help them edit their own work, as well as access to assessment criteria.
Rules governing coursework
The rules that govern coursework are the same for both Literature and Language. To quote the Guide:
“Teachers must not mark, correct or edit draft material prior to submission of the assignment proper, as this is classed as improper practice. Teachers should give general advice on a first draft only.”
Students may re-draft their work themselves, but this should done without interference from parents, other adults or students, or external tutors.
Although the GCSE system in the UK will be changing to levels for their awarded grades, iGCSE will continue to use symbols, awarding grades from A* to G.
The school pedagogy very clearly links itself to the concept of a growth mind set, which is fully supported by the English Department. On a practical level, this means that students will be constantly encouraged to engage with texts, ideas, ethics and tasks beyond set syllabi. This is not only essential for long term education and personal growth, it is also sound educational practice and prepares students better for all kinds of assessments.
What can parents do to help their children?
There are some obvious things that parents can do to support their children in all areas of study and which we know are already in place. These include: providing positive circumstances in which to study, such as a quiet place to work and ensuring that time is made both for homework and study; ensuring students are at school all term except when illness or other essential circumstances preclude this; remaining positive about student’s work.
Parents are also urged to engage their children in discussion about the ideas and issues that arise in all the texts that they study and read, whether non-fiction or literature. This will aid them in understanding difficult issues and also encourage a growth mind set.
A note on reading
The single most important way that parents can help their children is by encouraging them to read beyond the syllabus and to do so consistently and frequently. The things they learn from reading are irreplaceable in any other way. They include: a stronger grasp of the grammar of the language, particularly as it relates to colloquial and specific use of English; better spelling as well as broader vocabulary; constant exposure to new ideas and information. There is no better way to learn about psychology, philosophy, science, history, or the ethics of war, religion and politics, or to travel to new lands, or to meet new people, or to simply laugh, than through literature.
Help is available to assist students in choosing their next book, both from teachers and the librarians. Reading lists can be found on this page.
A note on plagiarism
Plagiarism in any form will not be tolerated and student should be very careful for they use the internet when preparing work. The consequences for both students and the school if plagiarised work is entered are severe and the department reserves the right to withdraw any work of which we are suspicious. In extreme cases, students may be withdrawn from a subject if there is reason to doubt their academic honesty.
IB Language A: Language and Literature
Language A: Language and Literature is a course designed to examine the use of language in a variety of text types and genres. An ongoing discussion of audience and purpose leads naturally into an analysis of the use of language itself, both in a cultural context and in mass communication, as well as the study and analysis of literary texts.
The study of the texts produced in a language is central to an active engagement with language and culture and, by extension, to how we perceive and act in the world in which we live.
Throughout the two-year IB Language and Literature course students will examine such topics as language and identity, taboo, power, and the implications of the changing nature of language itself.
IB Language A: Literature
Through the study of a wide range of literature, the Language A Literature course encourages students to appreciate the artistry of literature and to develop a sophisticated abilityto reflect critically on their reading. Works are studied in their literary and cultural contexts, through close study of individual texts and passages, and by considering a range of critical approaches.
In view of the international nature of the IB and its commitment to intercultural understanding, the Literature course does not limit the study of works to the products of one culture or the cultures covered by any one language. The study of works in translation is especially important in introducing students, through literature, to other cultural perspectives.
The response to the study of literature is through oral and written communication, thus enabling students to develop and refine their command of language.
IB Language A: Literature and Performance
This course incorporates the essential elements of literature and performance
and aims to explore the dynamic relationship between the two. At the heart of
the course is the interaction between a conventional literary emphasis on textual analysis, involving both written appreciation and oral discussion and, the practical, aesthetic and symbolic elements of dramatic performance.
The course as a whole examines literary and dramatic texts and seeks to develop intellect, imagination and creativity. It encourages intercultural awareness through a study of texts from more than one culture.
The basic textual requirements for the course include a group of works by two major poets, one novel, one play and one other (either a poet or a novel). In reality, we engage with many more texts, both for the development of analytical and appreciative skills, and to work towards the distinctive outcome of the course, which aims to transform poetry or a novel into a performance.
Works to be studied could include: Shakespeare both as a poet and a dramatist;
'The Great Gatsb'y; John Keats’ poetry; 'The Penelopiad' by Margaret Atwood; Ovid’s Metamorphosis; JM Coetzee; Wilfred Owen, Chinua Achebe.
Language B is a language acquisition course for students with some background in the target language. While acquiring a language, students will explore the culture(s) connected to it. The focus of these courses is language acquisition and intercultural understanding.
The language B syllabus approaches the learning of language through meaning. Through the study of the core and the options at SL and HL, plus two literary works at HL, students build the necessary skills to reach the assessment objectives of the language B course through the expansion of their receptive, productive and interactive skills.
The core—with topics common to both levels—is divided into three areas and is a required area of study.
• Communication and media.
• Global issues.
• Social relationships.
In addition, at both SL and HL, teachers select two from the following five options.
• Cultural diversity.
• Customs and traditions.
• Science and technology.
Most University courses or future careers will consistently demand the skills acquired during successful study of English at IB level: accuracy, sensitivity and sophistication of written and oral language; the ability to digest and analyse arguments and situations at length and in detail; the emotional intelligence and understanding of human nature and human potential gained through the study of texts originating in diverse eras and cultures.
Courses in Literature, and related subjects, are among the most popular at Universities throughout the English-speaking world, and entry standards are high. Graduates from these courses can be found in all conceivable careers and walks of life.