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MHS Library | English Language Year 11

Key knowledge:

• The properties that distinguish human communication as unique
• Language as a meaning making system that can be both arbitrary and rule governed
• The primary modes of language: spoken, written, sign
• Major functions that language serves when used in a given context
• The influence of context on language choice
• Features that characterise speech and writing
• The structure of language, from morphemes to lexemes, to phrases and clauses, to sentence structures and types
• Metalanguage to discuss aspects of the nature and functions of human language

Learning task ideas:

  • Phonetics and Phonology – Introduction to IPA.

Write your names or messages to one another in IPA, IPA crosswords, IPA Bingo, rewrite sentences from IPA to English and vice versa.

• Morphology – Break words down into morphemes and label the morpheme type.

• Lexicology – Word class revision, word class bingo, identify word classes of each word in the Jabberwocky.

• Syntax – Identify clause types, use flow chart to analyse first lines of novels.

• Semantics – Construct or decode sentences using words with multiple meanings e.g. Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo


Assessment ideas

SA Test on metalanguage

• Guided Analytical Commentary

• Report or investigation – comparison of sounds produced in different languages, syntactic structures of different languages, features of animal speech in comparison to human speech (e.g. Koko transcripts )

• Essays – topics can include comparisons of modes, comparison of human and animal communication, charactertistics of electronic communication etc. 


Construct a range of sentences using ‘like’ in as many different ways as possible.

• Phonological connected speech processes quiz (in resources)

• Identify examples in authentic speech (see Craig Harrison transcript provided)


2. The modes of language




Keep an eye on the Talk the Talk podcast which has weekly episodes that are highly accessible and often cover topics found in our Study Design.

Some examples:
• The Bee Show
• Signed Languages

Research how common animal noises are represented by humans around the world (onomatopoeia)
Research a range of signs and annotate iconic and arbitrary elements.
Research syntactic and morphological rules for a range of language eg. how is past tense expressed in 3 different languages.

Research how many language currently exist in the world, and how many types of scripts and signed languages there are.
What other types of languages such as whistled languages or conlangs (constructed languages such as Klingon or Dothraki)

​Language Log 



Learning task ideas:

An easy way for many students to grasp function is simply to find the strong verb that describes why the communication is taking place e.g. to advertise, to enquire, to inform etc. This circumvents the use of the theorists on the previous page which may be more accessible for some students.

Practise using a range of brief texts (in a range of modes) and attribute a function to each.

Find a text type that fits in each category.

Context is very important! Work with a range of open statements and assign a context to each that changes its function. Example statement: ‘I walked there

Why study grammar?

The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language by David Crystal

Learning task ideas