One of the reasons that the English Language GCSE can be quite nerve-racking is that you are likely to see the texts for the first time when you get into the exam. This means that many students think that it’s difficult or ‘impossible’ to revise for this exam. We’re here to assure you that this is not the case.
One of the key skills you are tested on in the English Language GCSE is the effect of language on the reader. You must be able to recognise different language techniques and explain what they make the reader think, feel, or experience as they read. The good news is that a lot of writers use the same language devices as one another in their writing; the even better news is that these language devices often create similar effects on the reader, even within completely different texts. So, by learning what effects the techniques are likely to create, you can go into the exam with a huge advantage!
Of course, the best way to learn about all of these techniques is to sign up for a Get My Grades subscription so that you can access a whole page specifically dedicated to each technique, but here we will look at some examples of language used in fiction texts to get you started:
Some techniques are used to make something visually interesting (this means we enjoy picturing the image and can imagine it easily). These techniques include similes, metaphors, personification, and juxtaposition.
The purpose of all of these techniques is to force us to compare two different things in our minds, helping us to visualise them more clearly and making the image more detailed and convincing.
Some techniques are used to make something aurally convincing (this means that the sounds the language make match the sounds that are actually happening in the text). These techniques include onomatopoeia, alliteration, assonance, and consonance.
The purpose of these techniques is to repeat different sounds that mimic the sounds being made in the text. For example, ‘s’ and ‘sh’ sounds can help to mimic the sound of water splashing. This helps the text become more convincing and immersive.
Some techniques are used to help captivate us by making us feel that we are experiencing the same thing that is happening within the text. These techniques include semantic fields, word class, and repetition.
These techniques repeat the same words or types of words to emphasise something to us over and over, or to make us feel surrounded by something. For example, a list of different verbs might make us feel that we are experiencing the continuous actions of a character.
Some techniques are used to help make us experience real feelings towards characters and to make us feel emotionally invested in a text. These techniques include word choice, sensory language, pathetic fallacy, and hyperbole.
These techniques all make use of well-chosen, powerful language designed to shock, surprise, horrify, or delight us. Writers use these techniques to make us feel strong emotions towards imaginary characters we will never meet – which is quite an impressive trick!
Some techniques are used to engage us in the events of a story and to make us feel engrossed in its imaginary events. These techniques include rhetorical questions, dramatic irony, and paradox.
These techniques all reach out directly to the reader and make us feel that we are personally involved in the events of a story. They can ask us questions, let us in on secrets, or put us in impossible situations – almost as if we are fictional characters ourselves.
Need more help?
This list should give you a head start on analysing different language techniques. If you know what each one is supposed to do, then you can more easily spot when it works (and when it doesn’t work) in real texts.
Read our next blog in this series for a similar list of techniques – this time for non-fiction texts. For full access to much more detailed information and advice about every technique you need to know for your GCSE – and thousands of practice questions to test yourself – ask your parent or guardian about signing up for a Get My Grades subscription today. Check out some examples of our content here.