GCSE English Language Revision: Approaches to Language and Structure


(These tips come from our language analysis lesson pack which can be found on this link and features additional ideas and a range of tasks.)


Effective language analysis requires you to pick apart a word or phrase, working out what connotations the writer is trying to get you to come up with.

In order for your analysis to be considered ‘perceptive and detailed’, it is important to explain more than one association with an idea.

There is no single ‘right’ answer – you’ll be rewarded for exploring several ideas.

Don’t presume the examiner knows what you mean – you have to make it crystal clear for them by exploring all of them.

To write a detailed analysis, you need to focus on the phrase / sentence as a whole and then narrow it down to single words. If you use this technique, you will see that it is easy to write a lot about a little. This is one of the best ways to reach the ‘perceptive and detailed’ part of the mark scheme.

Remember to also use the correct terminology – as long as you are 100% sure you know it.


(These tips come from our structure analysis resource pack which can be found on this link and features additional ideas and a range of tasks.)


When writing about structure look out for changes and shifts in the narrative. One way to do this is to consider these five questions:

Who? Characters – how were they introduced, in what order and with how much information?

What? What are the themes of the text and what is the narrative perspective?

When? The organisation and use of time – what tense is it in and how is time ordered?

Where? What’s the setting and how is this revealed?

How and why? Look for patterns that provide either cohesion or disjointedness (sometimes the writer tries to confuse us). Consider what the writer was trying to achieve.


Can you apply any of these language or structure approaches to this extract which describes the beam of a lighthouse from ‘To the Lighthouse’ by Virgina Woolf?

Always, Mrs Ramsay felt, one helped oneself out of solitude reluctantly by laying hold of some little odd or end, some sound, some sight. She listened, but it was all very still; cricket was over; the children were in their baths; there was only the sound of the sea.

She stopped knitting; she held the long reddish-brown stocking dangling in her hands a moment. She saw the light again.

With some irony in her interrogation, for when one woke at all, one’s relations changed, she looked at the steady light, the pitiless, the remorseless, which was so much her, yet so little her, which had her at its beck and call (she woke in the night and saw it bent across their bed, stroking the floor), but for all that she thought, watching it with fascination, hypnotised, as if it were stroking with its silver fingers some sealed vessel in her brain whose bursting would flood her with delight, she had known happiness, exquisite happiness, intense happiness, and it silvered the rough waves a little more brightly, as daylight faded, and the blue went out of the sea and it rolled in waves of pure lemon which curved and swelled and broke upon the beach and the ecstasy burst in her eyes and waves of pure delight raced over the floor of her mind and she felt, It is enough! It is enough!

Find our collection of AQA specimen papers and associated resources here.

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