Teaching A level English language and literature  by one of our exam tutors.

TeachingA level English language and literature 

Teaching A level English language and literature  by one of our exam tutors.

Get in touch if you would like to sit GCSE or A Level English language or English Literature

   Brought to you by Nick Attwood

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead. That was one of the first things I remember learning in A level English, because that is what was proclaimed on the extremely large theatre poster on the wall facing me in our classroom. I never took steps at the time to find out who they were or if indeed it had any bearing on my studies, but it was certainly a memorable poster. In fact, by the end of two years hard work I would reflect that none of the decoration on the walls of our cavernous classroom had any connection to our texts at all.


As a class we toiled away through the poetry of Larkin and Pope and read through Shakespeare and Churchill with the heavyweights Dickens and Hardy waiting for us somewhere along the line. (I still possess these heavily hieroglyphed copies for sentimental purposes.) What I really enjoyed about A level English, which is the same today is that a good working knowledge of your text is essential. I relish reading now as I did then and as such could keep up with the terrifyingly smart scholars by being the first to quickly and accurately recall who said what, at which point and to whom. 

This relationship with the material at A level for English language and Literature is now married to the importance of understanding context and identifying the technical aspects of an author’s work. It provides a far broader picture without killing off any enthusiasm by over-analysing a particular detail. A practice which to this day has meant I simply cannot contemplate picking up any Thomas Hardy without a sense of doom and despair.

The anthology element is also a genuinely interesting introduction to the vast spectrum of written work that exists. Those students with a creative flair can easily spot that which they like and that which they do not, but they can also be inspired and intrigued by something unfamiliar whether it is from the autobiographical or realms of reportage.

I would also argue that the coursework element is as much an opportunity as just another means of assessment. Narrowing one’s focus in on one particular author and a specific genre in fiction and non-fiction respectively is in many ways a rewarding exercise. Adding to that the task of composing an academic and critical review of one’s own composition is in itself a valuable element of the language and literature course. A skill which will undoubtedly reveal its usefulness whether or not your future may lie in that field of study or any other creative sphere.