AQA Language Paper 1 is in many ways my favourite exam paper ...
The Fiction paper offers students an opportunity to flex their creative writing muscles, which I always enjoy marking, but it also gives us literary teachers a chance to share our favourite texts with students - or at least to tease students with extracts from them ...
Since I began teaching, I've created a wide range of resources related to this paper, from 19th century texts such as HG Wells' The War of the Worlds, to more recent works such as David Mitchell's wonderful Cloud Atlas, via other much-loved authors like Margaret Atwood (The Penelopiad), Raymond Chandler (The Big Sleep), and latterly, more diverse texts: Oyinkan Braithwaite (My Sister, the Serial Killer).
This weekend I decided to refresh the texts I'm offering my class ...
Progressively, I'm seeing students struggle with 19th Century texts - mostly the issue is with non-readers who struggle with the heightened vocabulary and more formal grammar and syntax of the period. The best, perhaps the only, way to deal with this is familiarity. If the only Victorian literature a student reads is the single novel they study for GCSE Literature, the odds are undoubtedly against them. And yet, which texts might interest those students?
I plumped for Dracula.
Specifically for the scene where the hapless Jonathan Harker gets his first proper look at the Count, finishing with one of may favourite literary quotations ever:
“Listen to them—the children of the night. What music they make!"
I find that one impossible to read in a plain old English accent.
Next, I wanted something that might grab the wavering attention of my Year 11 students. If there's one thing that everyone under the age of 18 seems to be interested in, it's zombies, so my choice was made for me: an extract close to the beginning of Max Brooks' wonderful World War Z. Creating the resource was so exciting - largely down to the choice of extract - that I remarked to a friend that I wanted to stop what I was doing and answer the questions I'd set!
Perhaps my model answers will be part of another post. In the meantime, you should be able to access the finished resource here. It follows the AQA syllabus, and is structured:
- section A marking grid
- section B marking grid
I hope you enjoy using it; if you can think of ways to improve it, or just want to let me know how you got on with it, please get in touch ...