Analysing spoken language: example
Here is another comedy clip. As you watch, listen to the characters' words, expressions, accent, and intonation (how their voice rises and falls).
The Catherine Tate Show
Analysis of the way the two characters talk:
The teacher: The teacher speaks softly and pronounces her words clearly. This may suggest a formal education and a background that values 'standard' modes of speaking. Her accent, particularly her pronunciation of 'r' in words (eg learn) shows she is from the West of England. This is characteristic of many rural and West Country English areas which is why Lauren asks if she is a farmer.
The teacher's tone is soft, showing that she is in a nurturing or caring role, but her speech is full of commands, showing that the relationship is unequal (or 'asymmetric'). The teacher is in a position of authority. She therefore gets angry when that authority is challenged. As the sketch goes on, however, the teacher loses her soft tone and she ends up acting like Lauren.
Lauren: The first thing we notice about Lauren is her confrontational manner. This is mirrored in her idiolect - she does not change the words or expressions she uses to fit the situation. She also picks up on the teacher's different accent. When she does she draws wrong conclusions. First she thinks the teacher must be from the north, then that she must be a farmer.
We laugh at the way Lauren speaks and the mistakes she makes. Lauren does not speak Standard English. We can hear this, for example, in the way 'th' is pronounced 'f' (as in 'norf'), and the way she repeats question tags such as 'is it'.
Conclusions: Lauren is very judgemental about the teacher. She draws conclusions based on how the teacher speaks. The audience, however, also draws conclusions about Lauren. We laugh because Lauren makes comments that seem inappropriate. While we may draw conclusions from the way people speak, we are usually aware that it is not polite to say: "you speak funny, is it!" What is funny is Lauren's lack of self-awareness. She has not stopped to think that the teacher might think Lauren herself sounds 'funny'. We might also be laughing because we recognise the way she speaks and acts in our friends and, perhaps, ourselves.
Lauren is a very successful comic creation. One reason people like her might be because we enjoy seeing the way spoken language causes problems. Different people, with different ways of speaking, cannot understand each other. It forces them apart and into confrontational situations. Recognising that, perhaps, brings us all closer together.
Asymmetrical relationship - a relationship where one person is in a more powerful social or professional position than the other (as opposed to a symmetrical relationship).
Rhetorical question - a question that works more like a statement: it does not require a genuine answer. It can be used as a persuasive device but also to create distance between two arguing parties.
Now try a Test Bite.
Back to Spoken Language Study index
Non-exam assessment administration
The preparation and assessment of Spoken Language is a compulsory requirement of the course of study. It will appear on all students' certificates as a separately reported grade, alongside the overall grade issued. Ofqual will be consulting shortly on the marking and grading arrangements. Performance will be assessed against common criteria issued by all exam boards.
The criteria will address the following assessment objectives:
- AO7 – Demonstrate presentation skills in a formal setting
- AO8 – Listen and respond appropriately to spoken language, including questions and feedback to presentations
- AO9 – use spoken Standard English effectively in speeches and presentations.
For first teaching in September 2015, GCSE English Language will have an endorsed component covering Spoken Language. This endorsement has a number of features which distinguish it from most general qualifications components, in particular:
- it will be reported as a separate grade (Pass, Merit, Distinction or Not Classified) and will not contribute to the result of the GCSE English Language qualification
- no marks will be assigned – it will be assessed holistically as a grade
- it will be assessed on a ‘competency’ basis using agreed common criteria – to be awarded a grade students must achieve all of the criteria for that grade.
Please inform your students of the AQA regulations concerning malpractice. They must not:
- submit work which is not their own
- make available their work to other students through any medium
- allow other students to have access to their own independently sourced material
- assist other students to produce work
- use books, the internet or other sources without acknowledgement or attribution
- submit work that has been word processed by a third party without acknowledgement
- include inappropriate, offensive or obscene material.
These actions constitute malpractice and a penalty will be given (for example, disqualification). With respect to this endorsement:
- if it comes to light that a teacher has awarded a grade to a student who has not in fact carried out a presentation in the required manner, the head of centre will be asked to carry out an investigation of the circumstances and report to the awarding body. Results from some or all students at the centre may be withheld
- failure on the part of the head of centre to give all students the opportunity to undertake a Spoken Language presentation is a breach of specification requirements. The awarding body will inform other awarding bodies and the regulator, and the centre’s arrangements for the next cohort will be closely monitored. A grade of Not Classified will be recorded for the endorsement in the case of any GCSE English Language students who do not attempt it
- because of the nature of the work required, opportunities for student malpractice are lessened, but in circumstances where it occurs the standard published malpractice procedures apply.
We will provide support for using the marking criteria through some inter-board produced standardising material. This is available at aqa.org.uk/8700
You must ensure that you have consistent marking standards for all students. One person must manage this process and the must sign the Centre declaration sheet to confirm that internal standardisation has taken place.
Internal standardisation may involve:
- all teachers marking some sample presentations to identify differences in marking standards
- discussing any differences in marking at a training meeting for all teachers involved
- referring to reference material, such as examples of presentations provided by the awarding bodies.
There is no formal requirement to submit any supporting evidence such as a record form or paperwork alongside the recordings of the presentations of a sample of students.
The deadline for submitting the total mark for each student is given at aqa.org.uk/keydates
You must provide recordings of the presentations of a sample of students by the specified date given at aqa.org.uk/deadlines
The sample is selected by the school. The recording of each student’s presentation, including questions and feedback from the audience, must be complete and unedited.
Using their knowledge of students’ likely performance, centres should select the sample following the guidance shown in Table 1 and its footnotes. Centres are recommended to aim to record slightly more than the minimum number at each grade to allow for students whose performance is awarded a higher or lower grade than the centre had anticipated. However, a centre whose sample at a particular grade is ultimately slightly smaller than the minimum specified in the table is not required to take further action (ie record further students) to rectify the sample. Awarding bodies will provide details regarding the storage and submission of recordings.
Table 1 – Sample sizes
No. of students
No. of students whose presentations must be recorded
Minimum no. of students at each grade (D, M, P)+
30 or fewer
+ All students at a grade if the centre has fewer than the stated minimum. Students assessed as Not Classified should not be included.
++ For example, if a centre has 15 D students, 11 M students and 3 P students, all of these students will be in the sample.
+++ For example:
(a) if a centre has 21 D students, 14 M students and 3 P students, the sample will consist of 10 of the D students, 10 of the M students and all of the P students, with 7 additional students (from D and/or M) to make the overall sample up to 30
(b) if a centre has no D students, 7 M students and 60 P students, the sample will consist of all of the M students and 23 of the P students.
The monitor appointed by AQA will view some or all of a centre’s recordings and there will be a statistical analysis of the centre’s assessments.
You will not receive a report on the endorsement when the results are issued.
If there are concerns as a result of monitoring, the centre will be provided with additional support through a centre visit by a monitor in the following academic year. In the future, this may lead to enhanced monitoring arrangements which may include an earlier deadline for submission of assessments or a requirement to record the presentations of all students.