An English Language Jigsaw Puzzle [4705]

Spoken English Component

Sometimes, we teachers can over think something when it comes to assessments.

When it comes to the spoken language component here is an example, that I was handed today by a former student of mine, who has a friend from Kurdistan, who is doing GCSE English language this year.

This is the controlled assessment he received recently.

[I would complain if I was a student and got this as a Controlled Assessment].

Here it is.


The key words in the initial title are “language features” which need to be discussed in detail by anyone writing an answer to this one. So what does that mean? Well, it means how language features, such as ellipsis and fillers are used. There is usually a transcript given at this point.

Here it is below.


The man speaking is the actor Ray Winston. For those who have no clue, here is a picture.


Now he has been around the block in terms of acting, usually playing the thug, or the killer. He is known for playing the hard man roles and has made a living doing so, becoming famous as a result. He is a Cockney, one who is born under the geography of the Bow bells in East London and conventionally is known to be “a bit of a geezer” when it comes to his style of speaking and living. He is one of my favourite actors mainly because he brings an honesty and the use of real language to films. When he swears, it seems natural and not convoluted in any way.

Back to the assessment. Here are some notes the student received. Have a look at them and check out the way the teacher expects the student to answer the questions or complete the task set.

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Are you confused yet? I was when I looked at these items. The first look is sometimes where confusion comes. It can be a time when you scratch your head and wonder what is happening, as if you have been given something in a different language. For this student, who is from Kurdistan, who will speak another Mother Tongue, other than English, this would be a terrible assessment to choose.

Imagine how hard learning another language would be and then try to add in this assessment. I would have no clue if I was a student in Kurdistan doing this in his Mother Tongue.

Bravo that man!

So, how do you write an answer to this one? With all this information, there seems to be one thing missing; the context. What the hell is “Luke’s English Podcast?” Is it radio because of the word “audio?” Is it television because of the words “chat show?” Because there is not enough information given, it is impossible to determine the full social context, so I am assuming it is a television chat show. This would explain Winston’s use of profanity [swear words]. It would also suggest how comfortable he feels when speaking. Here, he is much at ease with himself, leading to the use of the swear word.

So, with context, one can begin.

One of these sheets gives us a chance to write some detailed stuff about Ray Winston. I would avoid that in any detail. I would do it, but only in passing. I would want to get my PEE [D] chains going as soon as possible into the essay. Quotes prove what you are saying is true. If they can be ‘proven’ from the text, your answer is correct. So go for it, big time, to answer the question or complete the task. The trick is to write this and add key words in from the transcript. They are your “Evidence” required in the essay to gain full marks.

Then there is a short section about the ‘language features’ such as ‘fillers’ and the effect they have on the speaker and the audience; this is where I would write in detail for this is where the points are to be had. That is where you can really go to town on the use of pauses (.) and explain how he is thinking the words before he is saying them, how he is being careful so as not to wander off the track of the story. It could also suggest that in the Green Room, the room where the television crew prepare the guests, there is usually a lot of alcohol and Mr Winston may have had a few, so the pauses may be commensurate with drunkenness.

The word counts given are a guesstimate for the writer, but they are also useful. If you was to go for the throat of number 1 on these sheets, you could avoid numbers 2, 3 and 4, or write a lot on 1, but then try to squeeze 2, 3 and 4 in at the end. Each one needs to be of roughly equal length. The suggestion is a 1200 word assessment that has to be hand written in controlled style in a period of 80 minutes.

Good luck with that one!