Language Features – The Question That Confuses…

A student today asked me to help him, just days before the exam. He was trying to do the 2013 Music response about language features and how used for effect. So, I did this for him.


Now read Source 3, ‘Music Studio’ an extract from a brochure advertising activity holidays for Teenagers. How does the writer use language features in the brochure?

Source 3 is presented as a leaflet for young, budding musicians of a teen audience who are aiming to make a way in the music industry, or who just want to improve their skills on their given instrument.

The writer uses a range of features from adjectives to imperatives in an attempt to get the reader to join the event taking place, trying to argue that if the reader wants the best, then they have to use this service.

For example, the writer begins with rhetorical questions to begin each section. The use of words like “what’s it all about” and “you are here” denote a young readership intent on success as musicians. Coupled with the promise of “trained and experienced music technicians” in the description of what is available makes this sound too good to miss for any budding musician.

The writer also uses lots of subject specific language in the assumption that the reader will understand fully what is being stated. Examples of this are “hip hop,” “house” and “garage” when referring to music as a genre. Only the very aware musically would be able to associate this use of language with something positive. An older reader for example would respond cynically to such words.

Other language features that are used are the use of the word “you” in both its contexts. The writer uses the word in the singular style, asking the reader a personal question, but the piece is aimed at every reader, not just one. This is a technique used by writers to employ persuasion over the reader. In this way, the young man or woman feels that they are a part of a readership and should respond positively.

The use of the imperative exclamation mark at the end of the second section illustrates the persuasion happening in the piece. It is saying that if you go on this holiday, then “you can pack in loads of other experiences too!” Such language only reinforces the use of the word “you” in the ways it is being used, along with the rhetoric applied, resulting in many a young reader feeling that this holiday is just the thing they are looking for.

Finally, there is one phrase that fully illustrates the persuasive power of this piece of writing and that is the use of the word “specialist” at the bottom. By the time the reader, as young as they are, get to the bottom, they will feel like they are indeed, specialists in the music field in need of some further training. Couple that with a holiday and you have the dream young musician’s holiday!


Student Exam Response

When you get to section B, there can be all sorts of things they ask you to do. One student decided to do a “describe” task as a story. Here it is….


My phone rang as I negotiated the tricky part of the run, hard left, just skirting the rocks, shit, that was close. Then right through the middle of two huge pines, sentries guarding the last of the shadowy woods and finally out into the brilliant sunshine, the snow all around reflecting the dazzling light back to the heavens.

“Pronto” I tried to answer in my best Italian, my chest still heaving, desperately searching for oxygen in the cold, rarefied mountain air.

“We ave a parcel for you ere, Meester Opes , I tink whatever was in it is dead. Come very quickly please!”

I collected my parcel from the impossibly beautiful alpine chalet that was the Post Office, and walked back along the snow covered road, towards my apartment, the temperature dropping like a stone now the life giving Sun had dropped behind a craggy peak.

I had decided to do one last season as a Ski Instructor, and here, high, in the Italian Alps, I sat, on Christmas Eve, at the kitchen table of a Snow Covered Farmhouse and opened my Parcel.

The beauty of it took my breath away again, but the air I now sought for my lungs was now warm, the crackling log fire and it’s heady intoxicating pine fragrance saw to that.

It sat, truly magnificent, on the table, a prime chunk of fine English Stilton, defiant and proud in it’s new Italian surroundings. There was something else too, a twelve pack of Quavers and a note from my Brother, which simply said, “Enjoy”.

Happy tears welled from nowhere. Someone, so far away, cared enough to do this, my dearest brother, my love for him as warm as the crackling fire.

The door flew open, cold air rushed in to fight with the warm, and in tumbled, my two, far from unattractive, chalet mates, full, quite literally, of Christmas spirit!

“What you got there Mattie?” Amy giggled, her tanned skin glowing with soft firelight.

I must add at this point that It is well known in skiing circles that a Chalet Girl will, after half a season “in Resort” will do almost anything (in reality you can drop the almost) for a jar of Marmite, what would these do for a share of two pounds of finest Stilton and some Quavers (whilst Italian cuisine is amongst the best in the world, their crisps are mind blowingly bad!), it was party time!

We sat, with the balcony doors open, the twinkling lights of the resort stretched out like a Christmas Tree on massive scale, eating such a humble meal of cheese, cut with a penknife, fresh bread ripped, whilst still warm from the loaf and rough local Red wine from plastic beakers. Such a simple fare you could not imagine, the complexity of feelings however was indescribable.

The beauty of that rustic meal, the laughter, the comradeship of friends and the love of family will live with me forever.

Did the Stilton and Quavers work their magic with the Chalet girls? Well, that’s another story…

The news was expected yet brutal and shocking when it came.

My girlfriend (now wife) had bought a couple of really nice pieces of Sirloin Steak on the way home, a treat for us both on a dreary, February evening.

I set about seasoning them in preparation for cooking when the phone rang.

The normally welcoming sound so often bringing cheer, news and reassurance from dear friends and family now had an ominous, sinister and threatening tone.

I glanced at Hayley, who tried, and failed to smile reassuringly.

“You get it,” she said.

“It’s Dad, I have some bad news I’m afraid”. My fathers voice sounded calm, his ability even now, to make those around him feel safe shone through.

The rest of the conversation passed in a blur, key words rose and fell, driftwood on the swell.

Six months, respite care, nothing more can be done, comfortable, be strong.

I replaced the receiver, no words to my wife were needed, my face did not just tell a story, it told of a lifetime, now passing.

Tears would not come, only an impossible emptiness, yet being on a dizzying precipice I dared not peer over the edge.

I returned to the Kitchen and began to cook the steaks, why I have no idea. The thought of eating seemed so alien, such an impossibility, so wrong.

The smoking pan almost grabbed at the meat, finally having something to transfer its malevolent heat to, one rare, four minutes, one medium six minutes. Dad liked his well done, but I did not need to remember the cooking time, nor would I.

We ate in silence, and when the silence became too noisy, we made pleasantries; we even talked of late trains and what should be done.

The steak was beautiful, and I feel guilty remembering that till this day.

I was hungry but could not face eating, my wife urging me to try and eat a little more but every mouthful felt wrong, rebuilding my body whilst my father’s wasted away would never again seem right.

Years and many, many meals  have passed since. Some people are missing from the table of life, but where they sat new, small mouths fill the void. Life on a plate.


Speech Writing

Hi all. 

Someone asked me recently how to put a speech together. Well, dependent on the subject in hand, it does not differ very much from this example in the link.!RMrrG 

Read it and see what I mean. It is structured well and would need planning well for a minute or three before you start writing. Because you are only limited to 25 and 35 minutes in Section B of the exam, it will not be this long. 

Have a go at one on a subject of your choice, whatever floats your boat!

Exam Task – The Best and the Worst [Meal]

As part of a lesson tonight, I asked my students to think about the best meal they had ever tasted and the worst. It was based on a previous paper and so, they had to sit down for 25 minutes and write an article for a foodie website, telling about their best and worst meal experience.


This is mine and it took me 15 minutes…… yer heart out Gordon Ramsey.


The Best and The Worst

It was the best of worlds. It was the worst of worlds. It was the best meal I have ever tasted and yet, it was the worst, for I have never suffered so much from one meal time than on that day way back in the last century.

I was a young lad, a trusting teenager, a lad who could eat his way through the front end of a donkey, let alone the back end and on this day, I met my match in the indomitable form of Mama Romero and her culinary delights in St Etienne du Rouvray, northern France. She was my brother’s mother in law and let me tell you this, Gordon Ramsey and Heston Bloominthing had nothing on this lady. She could blow them out of the kitchen with a single beat of her wooden spoon. For she was and remains to this day, the lady who managed to out face this young piglet of a man in one sitting.

Imagine for a moment sitting down to a meal and thinking how wonderful this rustic French cuisine will be; home cooking at its French/Algerian best. Imagine sitting there thinking you could eat anything they threw at you and you would get somewhere close to my mentality on that day.

But I was wrong, for she cooked what turned out to be a ten course family meal, using aperitifs and starters that blew your palate apart with that glossy garlicky flavour. I was hooked from the very first bite. I devoured every little morsel and when she saw how much I was enjoying it, sampling robust French red wines per course, she asked me if I wanted some more. I answered in the affirmative rapidly on each occasion and before long, my brother was trying to warn me to slow down.

Did I listen? You guessed it right…

The first course slid effortlessly into the second and third; a fish dish to simply astound you in a ragout like sauce that to this day, defies all logic and sensitivities. The smooth, glossy and wonderful texture of that sauce as it went down is a taste sensation that I remember to this day, nearly four decades later. Then came the garlic potatoes and the Coquille St Jacques, or was it the other way around? I am not sure now as one thing effortlessly glided into the next and my stomach began to groan under the volume of food.

Papa Romero made comments about how much my liking of the food was a compliment to the chef at the time and she beamed that lovely smile she always had, serving up one thing after another in oblivious delight. By the time the sorbets and the dessert courses had been devoured, I had gone way past the ‘full’ stage and was heading into dangerous territory, somewhere this lad’s belly had never been, before or since.

You see, the trouble was that I did not, and still do not, know when to say enough is enough. And when you consider the different textures going down with all that magnificent Munster cheese, the smelliest but most gorgeous thing I know to come from a cow, you begin to see why it can be considered the worst meal.

I loved every second of it but as I climbed the stairs of their house to my bed, I knew I was in trouble and you know, I do not think I ate another thing for three days. The struggle to keep the food down was immense, but I would not succumb. I must have had 10,000 calories in that one magnificent meal, but I also know that if I had the chance all over again, I would still not want to make her feel awful and would still eat it all in the same way.

Well, perhaps every course, but not double portions! That perhaps, was a mistake, but one I remember now, with fondness and affection. It was after all, the best of meals and the worst of meals, all because my eyes are bigger than my belly. If you ever want to know just how glorious it was, go out to a swanky French restaurant and order the Coquille St Jacques.

That alone will astound you!

A Little Task For You

Have a look at this and look at how it is written. Who knows, you may be asked to write something about the provision in society for the young in the exam this year. It is a topic that has not been in the exam in recent years, so I am expecting something aimed at the 15 year old market this year.

After all, the majority of people taking the exam will be 15 or 16.