This original writing and commentary was awarded an A* in summer 2017 when it was submitted to AQA, I am now sharing it with others in the hope it will be helpful.
The original writing was based on the 'power of persuasion' since it is an OpEd, so, together with the commentary, would be hugely beneficial to students interested in this approach since it shows what standard is required for the top grades.
However, this resource would of course be beneficial to all students as an introduction to the NEA, showing them how they can draw on what they have learned so far in their A level and how to approach the commentary, something they may be unfamiliar with.
This resource truly is invaluable to show students what they should be aiming for and could even inspire their own work.
Check out my other A Level English Language resources as well as my NEA resource- an A* Language investigation.
Check out my shop for more: https://www.tes.com/teaching-resources/shop/astarlevels
What is the commentary?
The commentary is designed to enable you to explain the decisions you have made in writing your piece and the language levels that you have employed and replicated following your exploration of a style model.
The commentary is just as important as the Original Writing piece in that it is also 750 words and the same number of marks (25).
This piece will test your ability to employ all of the assessment objectives equally. Below is a screenshot from the criteria on the top band features:
What does this mean?
A01: You need to use a range of language levels. Note the key words ‘integrated’ and ‘connected.’
Regardless of the language levels used, aim to cover a range rather than repeating multiple times the use of a particular word class. Do not write about the language levels in a disjointed fashion. You will do better by integrating them, e.g. The attributive adjective “gold” within the noun phrase “the gold surface.”A02: Through your knowledge gained from the style model, you will need to demonstrate an awareness of genre. How does your original writing imitate the genre? How have you shown understanding of how individual genres work (and possibly overlap)?
A03: You need to engage in the way language is used to create meanings and representations. Think about how the language levels are used to create different effects.
A04: Within your commentary, you must make reference to the style model. An integrated comparison between the style model and original writing piece is needed.
A05: Throughout the entire piece, you will be assessed on your ability to express ideas clearly and carefully using an effective structure. Note the key word “guide.” You need to provide a clear analysis that is well organised rather than a disjointed piece of work that lacks coherence.
Getting the process started
In order to produce a successful commentary, you should complete the following:
1. As part of your planning for the Original Writing, you will have have selected a style model and looked at the linguistic strategies that it uses. In order to write a successful commentary, analyse the language levels used in your style model. Highlight them in different colours, e.g. red = syntax, green = word classes. This is a really important starting point as you need to make connections (A04) to your style model. Your commentary cannot just write about your own Original Writing piece as you need to justify how they relate to your selected style model.
2. After analysing your style model in detail, you need to then identify the language levels used within your own work. Think about why they have been used.
- What representation did you intend to create?
- What purpose does the language level that you have employed serve?
- Ensure that you make a comments on the way the audience, writer and subjected are positioned along the way.
- When you are analysing your work, it is important to consider a range of language levels. Avoid just focusing on the ones you feel most confident with using. A good spread of language levels that are appropriate and meaningful to justifying your ideas is better than repeating the same ones constantly.
Beginning the Commentary
As part of your A Level course so far, you will be familiar with the importance of context and how this shapes the meaning and production of the texts. When producing your commentary, your opening paragraph should contextualise your Original Writing piece and making a clear connection to your style model. Consider the following as part of your opening paragraph:
- You need to contextualise your own piece of work. Ensure that you comment on the purpose, form, topic, audience and how the subject is being represented. Do not generalise here. You need to be very specific. Generalisations will not help you reach high marks.
- You also need to introduce your style model. Why have you selected it? How does it relate to your own original writing piece?
"My style model is in the genre of a dramatic monologue. There are different sections in the text with scene changes indicated by 'Go to Black' or 'Fade.' The monologue explores a character who is not fully self-aware and I have reflected this in my Original Writing piece... My monologue is similar to Bennett's in many ways, whilst also having differences..."Main Paragraphs in the Commentary
After establishing the context of both your own original writing piece and your style model, you then need to carefully analyse the language levels employed in your own work.
- Remember that you need to integrate linguistic description where possible, e.g. The pre-modifying attributive adjective ‘gold’ used within the noun phrase ‘the gold star’ is used to represent it as ….
- Once you have commented on your own piece of work, you then need to make sure that you make connections to the style model. It might also be the case that there are marked differences in how you have used the language levels. This is equally acceptable but you need to explain why, as this will enable you to discuss contextual factors shaping the production.
- Remember that you need to engage in meanings. Think about the way the linguistic strategies and language levels used create a representation.
- Adopt an interwoven comparison throughout rather than writing about the style model and your own production piece in isolation.
- Referring to the assessment criteria, you will note that it asks you to ‘guide’ the reader through. You will need to develop a coherent line of thought here. In order to guarantee this, you need to avoid leading with A01 features and instead developing topic sentences that enable the reader to understand the connections and points of comparisons being made.
- Both the style model and original writing piece employ … but to create different representations…
- Within the style model, it utilises … which has been imitated in my original writing piece to …
- Throughout the style model there is use of …. This is mirrored in my original writing piece … so that the subject of … is represented …
- Whilst the style model utilises …. To represent the subject as … I have employed them in a different way so that the topic can be represented as …
- Ensure that you refer closely to your style model by quoting specific examples from it. Likewise, you will need to do the same with your own original writing piece. If you provide no evidence, credit for A01 features cannot be given regardless of how vast a range of features you have employed.
"As monologues are spoken, it is important to represent speech. Bennett employs ellipsis to make it sound spontaneous and realistic. For example, Marjory says 'Said it was Rawdon anyway." This has been imitated in my own original writing piece through..."
Concluding the Commentary
This does not need to be a lengthy part of the piece. A couple of sentences will do here. Your concluding paragraph should very succinctly summarise the overall representation that you have created in your original writing piece.
- Overall, my original writing piece employs a range of language levels that are similar to my style model to represent the subject as …
- Emulate / Mirror / Employ / Reflected / Imitated / Utilised / Mimics / Aligns /
- Represents / Portrays / Illustrates / Illuminates / Conveys
- The audience are positioned / This positions the audience to …
- Both / Equally / Similarly / In the same way / Using the style model, I have …
- Whereas / In contrast / Unlike / Alternatively / On the other hand
Good luck with completing your commentary for the NEA and I hope this has helped.