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As Simple as ABC?: Issues of Transition for English Language A Level Students going on to study English Language/ Linguistics in Higher Education THE SIXTH.

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Presentation on theme: "As Simple as ABC?: Issues of Transition for English Language A Level Students going on to study English Language/ Linguistics in Higher Education THE SIXTH."— Presentation transcript:

1 As Simple as ABC?: Issues of Transition for English Language A Level Students going on to study English Language/ Linguistics in Higher Education THE SIXTH FORM PERSPECTIVE Angela Goddard & Adrian Beard York St John University

2 Data Sources: AS Level students April 2006: 271 questionnaires - students asked to rate their courses for interest, relevance, variety (12 Comps, 4 Ind, 3 FE, 1Gr, 1 6 th coll) July 2006: 3 focus groups (32 students) intending to go to university. Asked about language topics they hoped to study, and about learning and teaching in school/HE (10 Comps, 1 Gr, 1 FE)

3 April 2006: 3 focus groups of teachers accompanying AS students – asked about approaches to teaching and learning, links with HE (5 Comps, 3 Ind, 2 FE, 1 6 th coll) June & October 2006: 61 teachers on INSET programmes questioned about their subject knowledge & previous training Data Sources: A Level Teachers

4 National assessment: Whos Who QCA AQA EDEXCEL OCR WJEC CCEA

5 National assessment: Time line 6 module system finishes with A2 in 2009 4 module system begins for AS in 2008 This means new specifications with some material inevitably lost

6 AS/A2 Numbers Figures for Summer 2006: AS: 24,387 (c.67% female, 33% male) A2: 18,370 ( c.64% female, 36% male)

7 English Language: QCA Assessment Objectives 2008 Linguistic methods & terminology Concepts and issues in the construction and analysis of spoken and written language Understanding of context Expertise and creativity in the use of English Show knowledge of key constituents of language

8 AS/A2 CONTENT Common to all courses in 2008: familiarity with traditional notions of language levels analysis of varieties of spoken and written data, including texts over time study of some sociolinguistic topics an individual research investigation into an area of language study students producing their own texts through various kinds of writing (and perhaps speaking)

9 English Language Units (AQA Spec B from 2008) 1.Categorising Texts : (genre theory ) 2.Creating Texts: Analysis of a style model; creation of own text; analytical commentary 3. Developing Language: acquisition and change 4. Investigating Language: Data collection & analysis; creation of a media representation of this

10 From National to Local In effect the national A level specification becomes customised at a more local level depending on the nature of the institution and its students So a multicultural comprehensive is likely to take a different approach to content and principles from a monocultural grammar school ( if it does English Language at all)

11 Grade A At A level approximately 13% are awarded grade A The comparative figure for English Literature is approximately 25%

12 STUDENTS INTENDING TO TAKE ANOTHER SUBJECT TO HE When asked which subject at HE, from 202 responses, 76 different subjects were named including: Architecture, Art and Design, Business, Chemistry, Dance, Fashion, Film, Geography, History, Law, Maths, Media, Medicine, MFL, Nursing, PE, Philosophy, Psychology, Sociology, Teaching, Theology, Vet Science

13 AS Students Had enjoyed: Accent and dialect work Representation Original writing Language & gender Language in the media Language & technology Saw their learning as: Group-oriented Participatory Interactive & discursive Independence meant presenting own ideas; reading, if set, was in order to do a task afterwards

14 Independent Reading 32 AS students had indicated they might go on to read English Language 3 said they had been given a reading list 19 had no recommended reading at all 10 had been given short readings and extracts to study

15 AS Students Hoped HE courses would offer: Language acquisition Language & gender Language in the media Accents & dialects Language & power Sociolinguistics Expected HE courses to involve: A wider range of teaching staff Very small interactive sessions as well as lectures Essay writing and independent study

16 STUDENTS INTENDING TO CONTINUE SUBJECT TO HE On 5 point scale they rated their A level English Language: Interest: 87% Excellent – Good Relevance: 77% Excellent – Good Variety : 60% Excellent – Good

17 A Level Teachers In their own teaching, try: Not to be too didactic To work from data To encourage independence To accommodate a wide range of ability levels and needs In their subject knowledge, many feel: That teaching A Level Lang is rewarding but… That they are under – prepared for some aspects of the subject and… Unfamiliar with the HE sector in this subject

18 Teacher Subject Knowledge 61 1st time teachers were surveyed 1.Did you teacher training include A level language? Yes : 12 No : 49 2.Do you need help with subject knowledge as much as methodology? Yes 53 No: 8

19 UCAS: WHATS THE SUBJECT CALLED? English leads to English Language as one option English Linguistics Studies as another …………………………………………… English Language then offers courses in both English Language and English Language and Linguistics but…..English Linguistics Studies offers neither

20 UCAS: WHATS THE SUBJECT CALLED? What do the following courses mean? English and English Language English Language and English English with English Language & Communication English and Language and Linguistics English Studies and English Language/Linguistics

21 WHATS THE SUBJECT CALLED? Questions for internal consideration: What is meant by English? Are subject/course names the result of institutional battles and compromises? What do your course names mean outside of your own peer group? What are you saying about this degree in UCAS site? For example, what does this entry requirement mean?: English Literature or English – Language & Literature required

22 STUDENT EXPERIENCE AT LEVEL 1 Question: Was A Level English Language a good preparation for your degree course? Yes = 112 ( 78%) No = 32 ( 22%)

23 STUDENT EXPERIENCE AT LEVEL 1 Question: Did you repeat any material from A Level in level 1of your degree? Yes = 96 ( 71%) No = 40 (29%) Question : Did the repetition bother you? Yes = 4%No = 96% Question: Has your course so far matched your expectations of what it would be when you applied? Yes = 180 ( 82%)No = 39 ( 18%)

24 STUDENT VOICES AT LEVEL 1 At A Level I was guided through the course. I had contact with my tutor at least three times a week on a one to one basis and my class size was never above 10. University teaching is quite daunting, particularly the size of lectures and the lack of personal tutoring Independent learning is studying from home or library, but doing it on your own…I do it…but motivation can be affected when there seems to be too little guidance

25 LECTURERS VOICES Students are especially able to say things about texts. Some students worry about structural aspects and are scared of difficulty. They lack the confidence to analyse because they are uncertain of the metalanguage.

26 OVERVIEW FROM HE PERSPECTIVE Where lecturers knew about the nature of A Level work, they tended to be more positive about their students abilities There was a general perception that students arrived with a culture of dependency and insecurity Most lecturers were concerned about their students lack of metalinguistic knowledge

27 Conclusions & recommendations for HE HE programmes – transparency & naming HE tutors - knowledge of A Level helps Metalanguage – how can it be best approached? Teacher training/links with school sector Independent learning – what is it? how can it be developed in HE contexts? Planning for transition – eg front-loading of resources

28 LAST WORD I have found the transition from a level to degree to be quite a natural progression. I think I would have struggled with this degree course if I had not taken English Language at A level.

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