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This pack of CHRISTMAS picture questions is designed for AQA GCSE English Language 9-1. They simulate Paper 1 Question 5 where students are given a picture and are presented with two options (it’s hard, almost to call them questions!). The tasks can be for a descriptive or a narrative response (although both tasks can be descriptive or narrative and this pack reflects that). I hope that you will be able to use this pack to help you increase the story-telling powers of your learners as well as their descriptive prowess!
The pack gives teachers the opportunity to have a selection of ready-made questions for Paper 1 Question 5. These can be used to ensure that there are always writing tasks at hand. They might be used to stimulate class or small group discussion or can be used as interchangeable exercises to be done during a session. I hope that there is a sufficient variety of Christmassy mages in this pack to pique the interest of even the most reluctant of writers. By giving your learners a choice of task (while the assessment objectives - A05 and A06 remain the same) these sample questions might help to ensure both differentiation and an element of choice. There are also a few naughty suggestions…
Each is formatted to include the question on a single A4 sheet. The originals are also included on their own if you would like to use them without the question stimulus. Plus if it’s easier for you - PDFs are also included of both files.
They would probably also be very useful if you are covering a class - the skills that students develop with these questions are vital for success in GCSE English as this question alone represents 25% of the entire exam.
All of the wonderful pictures have been ethically sourced and are available under a Creative Commons license which means you do not have to worry about copyright with them at all. Each originator is credited by use of a link to the original.

GCSE English Paper 1 Question 5 - Student Examples of Short Stories

You may have your GCSEs coming up in a short amount of time – in which case you may also be thinking “How one earth am I going to pass my English?”  Well, there are a number of ways – one of which is to look at example answers written by other students.  This video shows two examples of how to write a story – something which comes up in AQA GCSE English Paper 1 and is worth a whopping 50% of the entire paper – and 25% of the entire qualification.

So, it’s worth taking a look at what others students write and the grades that they get for their writing.  If you wonder how you might get a grade 5 or above for GCSE English then look no further!

You can also find PDFs of the stories on our TES store.  Don’t worry, it’s a free resource like all of our others!

How to Pass GCSE English Language 9-1: How to Avoid Boring Exam Phrases

Sometimes students have to be encouraged to be a little more ambitious with their exam responses.  In GCSE English Language (Grade 9-1) this is particularly true when it comes to the language questions, not to mention the critical appreciation question in Paper 1 (question 4).  Altogether these represent a lot of marks and therefore quite a big percentage of the overall marks available.  Responding well to these questions can without doubt mean the difference between one grade and another (not to put too fine a point on it).

Many learners follow the PEE structure that they have been taught to respond to language questions.  However, they give as much effort to explaining as they do to pointing out and evidencing.  For example, a student might say that the writer uses a metaphor and then quote the metaphor.  That could be done in a single sentence, two at a push.  Then they only spend a further sentence explaining the impact that this metaphor had on the reader.  Frankly this is only enough for a grade 4 at best.

If students wish to do better they must properly explain.  The examiner will award more marks to two well explained points than she will to three which are poorly explained - it makes sense.  So things like it makes the reader want to read on should be avoided at all costs!  This video shows some of the common boring sentences written by exam candidates and offers a few choice alternatives.


How to Analyse Texts in Relation to Audience Needs: Functional Skills English

How to pass Functional Skills English Level 2? Preparation is the name of the game and this video gives you an insight in to one of the most important questions in the exam.  Get a past paper to work through once you have watched the video and take note – this is worth five whole marks in the exam.  If you get this question right then the chances are you can pass the exam – of you get it wrong then you could fail. This question assesses standard L2.2.5 (analyse texts in relation to audience needs and consider suitable responses).   This means that, on paper at least, this is quite a challenging question but follow the instructions in the video – and practice on past exam papers – and you should do really well on this question!

How Meaning is Conveyed: Functional Skills English Reading Level 2

The changes to Level 2 Functional Skills English in 2015 and 2016 have sent teachers in to something of a panic but when you read between the lines, although the examination is more challenging, some of the changes are not much more than skin deep.  There was, in previous versions, a question where students could pick up 3 points very easily – where they spotted three features which helped to convey information.

This has now disappeared.  The replacement question asks them to explain two ways the writer of a text (usually C) tries to convince the reader of something.  The answers are in a different format to the old question (and students have to be more careful with their responses) but the four marks they can now pick up are attainable if they ‘box clever’.

Here’s a video which explains the question and the method which should be used to get all the marks.

GCSE English: Language Features - Intensifiers

GCSE English covers a number of language features – quite a lot in fact! Any number of them can appear in the exam and students must be able to both recognise and explain them. The video you are watching covers intensifiers – which are often hidden in plain sight. 

Finding language features in a text may sound straightforward but in an examination situation, with the added pressure of time constraint and nerves, it can quickly become like one of the labours of Hercules. This video about intensifiers – one of a series on language features found in GCSE English – aims, in plain and simple English, to enable students to recognise this particular language feature. It also suggests the kind of response (a technique) might gain marks in the exam. Enjoy!

If you would like to see more of our videos all at once, please visit our YouTube Channel, Teaching and Learning Resources for Me.

Changes to Functional Skills English Level 2 Exams – 2016

What are the changes to the Level 2 Edexcel Functional Skills English exams? This video aims to help teachers who need to get to grips with the content of the new exam paper. This is both in terms of the way it looks (both paper-based and online) to the type of questions that are asked in the exam. How has it changed and what are the new, increased demands on students and/or pupils. What kind of questions will they get and, more importantly, what kind of answers do they have to give? Watch this video and hopefully some of your fears will be allayed!

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