EXAM contents – Written task

Written task: Trabajo escrito basado en el módulo Lenguaje y medios masivos de comunicación. Opciones de tipos de texto: Brochure/Leaflet, Interview, Magazine article, News report, Report, Set of instructions, Speech.

Unidad: Language and Mass Communication To choose an adequate type of text with a clear purpose in mind
– To use terminology related to the varied text-types studied.
– To analyse the effects that language, structure, technique and style have on the reader
– To support and justify ideas with coherent examples.

Wednesday 02nd of July – 12:20 pm



Writing Rationales for Written Tasks
AssessmentWritten tasksWT1 skillsWriting Rationales for Written Tasks
Writing the rationale to Written Tasks, type 1 can be challenging for students. Historically, the idea of writing Written Tasks borrows from the now moribund Language A2 course. A frequent lament of Language A2 Written Task examiners was that students were simply too ‘wordy’; at times, students would write a rationale which was appreciably longer than the Written Task which it accompanied. In part, it is this experience that motivates the decision to delimit the rationale in the Language and Literature course to a maximum of 300 words.

Teachers should really encourage their students to aim for the upper word limit of 300 words. This word limit, however, must not be exceeded; if it is, one mark is deducted from the student. If students write less than 200 words, no marks are automatically deducted. However, in this case, it is unlikely that students will achieve the maximum of 2 marks available for the rationale that shows ‘a clear explanation and understanding of the aspects being investigated’.

The point made above about word length is so important that it is worth repeating: Teachers should really encourage their students to aim for the upper word limit of 300 words. Beyond this, of course, the words need to be well chosen and the rationale should be clear and concise. But what should the student include?

The study guide says that a rationale must (my emphasis) explain the following:

• how the content of the task is linked to a particular part of the course

• how the task is intended to explore particular aspects of the course

• the nature of the task chosen

• information about audience, purpose and the varying contexts in which the task is set.

Moreover, the rationale should not only include knowledge about the text or topic studied, but also about the formal conventions of the text type produced and how they relate to the aims of the task.

In the following exercise, teachers should ask students to read the rationale (below), and identify the extent to which the rationale achieves the criteria set out above. Can students find examples of where the rationale achieves the criteria? Does the rationale provide ‘a clear explanation and understanding of the aspects being investigated’? What recommendations would students make to improve the rationale?

Rationale: An Example
This written task relates to my study of the mass media and, in particular, to our focus on the language and structure of newspaper stories.

In addition, my written task is informed by my study of the ‘language situation’ in Quebec, Canada. In this part of my course, we considered the politics of English, studying a range of situations and contexts where speaking English was either advantageous or disadvantageous. Quebec is a francophone part of Canada. French speakers, I have learned, are often at an advantage in Quebec, whilst speakers of English are sometimes discriminated against.

I have learned that ‘language matters’, and that language cannot be separated from other aspects of social, cultural, and economic life. Accordingly, for this written task, I have written a newspaper story that is intended to be included in The Toronto Star. This is an English language newspaper, Canada’s biggest selling ‘daily’, and is ‘left leaning’. I have assumed that the editorial position of the newspaper would support a plurality of languages in Canada. Whilst, I believe, the newspaper would recognize the particular importance of English and French in Canadian life, it would be critical of discriminatory practices based on language.

My news story tries to convey this ideology. In the story, I discuss the (imagined) case of a man who claims to have been discriminated against for his refusal to speak French during job interviews.

The newspaper story is intended to look and read authentically. Thus, for example, I have included a range of features typical of this text type. It has a headline, a sub-heading, a byline, and a lead. Paragraphs and sentences are short. Words are simple. Quotations (‘accessed voices’) are included. ‘Naming’ is also significant, not least because of the way it tries to ‘skew’ the story.

297 words
Teacher’s Comments
This is a sound rationale. It is likely to be awarded 2 marks. At 297 words, it approaches the word limit, and the rationale is quite succinct. The student doesn’t make explicit whether the Written Task is based on Part 1 or 2 of the course. However, this is not necessarily problematic; the suggestion is that the Written Task, in terms of content, relates mainly to Part 1 of the course, and the relationship between the Written Task and the course studied is clearly explained. The medium for the Written Task is a news story and the student intimates that the conventions associated with this text type were studied in Part 2 of the course. The student suggests that the Written Task will aim for authenticity; that is, the news story will be written for The Toronto Star. Finally, the student does well to highlight some of the key linguistic features of the text type, but could perhaps make more explicit the relationship of language to audiences, contexts, and purposes.

All in all, this is a successful rationale. It remains to be seen whether or not the accompanying Written Task is equally competent.


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