AQA · AQA new specification · English · Teaching Ideas

What to say about the effects of language – tackling the language questions



I’ve been thinking about how to get students to articulate their feelings and I had a look at the AQA specimen assessment materials as well as the mark schemes.

The new language question 3 on paper 2 (and question 2 on paper 1) asks us to look at AO2: the extract below is taken from the mark scheme

Explain, comment on and analyse how writers use language and structure to achieve effects and influence readers, using relevant subject terminology to support their views (from AQA mark scheme)

Look at the phrase ‘achieve effects and influence readers’ – this is asking you to think about the way the writer uses language to create an effect on  YOU the reader.

So – how do you feel about what’s happening in the text and how does the writer make you feel this way?

There is a great document on the secure key materials section which includes a table with a comparison of indicative responses across all the specimen assessment materials. Below is a table which includes all the prompt phrases/sentence stems across all levels


How to introduce ‘effects’ of language:

Here are some indicative content phrases taken from the different SAMS mark schemes on the AQA web-site

Paper 1 Q2


P2 Q3


Level 4

·      perhaps reflecting

·      evoke the idea of

·      the cumulative effect of the

·      suggesting the

·      perhaps suggesting

·      to emphasise how

·      captures the

·      it helps the reader to visualise

·      It reinforces his

·      the writer prepares us for

·      can be interpreted at two levels

·      it can simply imply

·      On another level though

·      helps to encompass most readers because

·      which suggests

·      reinforces our preconceived idea

·      repulses us.


Level 4

·      which suggests

·      shows how

·      reinforces that

·      suggests to the reader this may not be

·      draws the modern reader into

·      makes effective use of

·      creates the impression of a

·      is suggestive of

·      which suggests

·      forewarns us of

·      pulls the reader into

·      is seductive for the reader

·      intriguing of itself for the modern reader,

·      is engaging for the reader,

·      elicits help and sympathy from her readers

·      conveys a picture of …

·      emphasises the

·      strengthen the mental image


Level 3

·      gives the effect of

·      used to show the reader how

·      makes it sound as if

·      to suggest that

·      gives the idea that they

·      making the reader think

·      it introduces a

·      is effective because

·      it builds up and emphasises

·      most readers would be

·      we understand that

·      tells us

·      implies that

·      this makes it sound like


Level 3

·      which suggests/suggests that

·      putting the reader firmly in

·      hurries the reader along

·      gives the sense of

·      which is also suggested by

·      makes the reader feel

·      which implies that

·      This impression is added to

·      makes a connection for the reader

·      the choice of verb captures its…

·      further implying that

·      This makes the reader realise

·      makes a reader think that

·      to emphasise to the reader how

·      It would make the reader feel


Level 2

·      emphasises that/how

·      has the effect of

·      making us feel

·      suggests that

·      it makes us feel

·      She makes the

·      to show how

·      tells us

·      suggests


Level 2

·      to build up the

·      has the effect of

·      making the reader feel

·      This makes the reader feel that

·      Puts … into the mind of the reader

·      makes us realise that

·      tells us

·      This makes it sound

·      suggesting it

·      so it sounds

·      It would make a reader feel sorry for them and want to

·      Showsjust how


Level 1

·      emphasises that

·      This gives us

·      which makes it sound

·      makes the reader think that

·      show that/shows how


Level 1

·      which makes you think

·      so making you feel that

·      makes the reader think that

·      sound like

·      we know

·      tells us

·      which sounds

·      It would make a reader feel

·      It makes you feel

·      Which makes it seem


I tried to devise some categories for these different stems.

At level 1, it seems the reader becomes a passive recipient of these feelings – it makes them ‘feel’, it ‘seems’, it ‘gives us’, ‘it shows’. These seem like definite responses (even ‘shows’) as if the student doesn’t consider possible alternative interpretations. If you look at the actual model answers, you won’t be surprised to learn that at level 1 there are very few of these stems used and if they are they are used once – the student doesn’t explore layers of meaning like they do at higher levels.

Level 2 – as we move up the levels, those sentence stems become more exploratory. We ‘realise’ suggests a slow dawning of an effect, a little more subtle than it shows perhaps. ‘Suggests’ appears, in addition to ‘shows’ and the phrase ‘to build up…’ hints at the beginnings of a recognition of layers.

Level 3 – ‘suggests’ becomes more dominant now. Students are more open to varied possibilities. ‘Idea’, ‘impression’, ‘realise’ also appear and level 3 students are now able to pick out particular nuances of feelings. Perhaps more important is the phrase ‘most readers’ which is an explicit acknowledgement that there are other responses and interpretations and that this student’s response is just one of them.

Level 4 – this multiplicity of responses is emphasised in some of the level 4 stems: ‘interpreted at two levels’; ‘on another level’. Students begin to speculate – ‘perhaps reflecting/suggesting’ appears here. As you would expect, level 4 students are able to synonymise ‘suggests’ or else arrive at other links to their interpretation – elicits, evokes, reinforces, creates. The text’s influence is shown here (as in level 1) but there is the confidence to be more assertive with those feelings – repulses, pulls, seductive, etc. There is also the acknowledgement of how readers from different ERAS engage (draws the modern reader in…) which might also be important for paper 2 q4.

The important distinction is in the ability of more able pupils to speculate; to engage with the text in ‘layers’ – we all know that I suppose – but this ‘taxonomy’ of sentence stems perhaps brings it into more focus. Using these with students might be helpful. We’re not saying that the level 1 stems are useless – they appear in the other levels as well in some form (or synonymous form), it’s just that more bale students are able to move from explicit (shows) through to conditional (might) and speculative (suggests) and cumulative (might also imply).




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