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For the English Literature GCSE students will read a selection of prose, poetry and drama, including several Shakespeare plays. They will learn to analyse the texts and identify different elements such as plot, character relationships, setting, themes, and the social and historical context in which the text was written. Some students find Shakespeare’s prose quite challenging, or poetry totally opaque, and that’s where a GCSE English Literature tutor can be a tremendous help. There often isn’t time in class to go over the texts in detail, but a tutor can address any questions your child might have and go over it as many times as they want.
Students will be able to pick a novel from a short list, including titles such as Austen’s Pride & Prejudice, Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, Brönte’s Jane Eyre, Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go, Orwell’s Animal Farm, Keatley’s My Mother Said I Never Should, and Priestley’s An Inspector Calls. Once your child has chosen a novel, they will work on identifying the themes, using the social and historical context to discuss the work, comparing the work to others of the same genre or time, and forming an opinion of the novel and using parts of the text to support their points. It can be difficult for students at this age to feel comfortable putting forward their interpretations of a text, in front of their mates. They miss out on feedback of their ideas, unfortunately. However, with a GCSE English Literature tutor on hand, your child can go through their ideas in an open and supportive one-on-one session.
Students will study one full Shakespeare play in GCSE English Literature, which they can pick, generally one of the following: Much Ado About Nothing, Macbeth, Romeo & Juliet, Julius Caesar, The Merchant of Venice or The Tempest. Shakespeare’s language can be tough to get through for some students, and there isn’t time in class to go over every confusing turn of phrase. An experienced GCSE English Literature tutor will have no trouble going through the play with your child, and helping decipher some of the more confusing passages, as well as supplying some context if necessary. This can make the difference between barely squeaking through with this section of the English Literature GCSE course and properly understanding the text. Getting help with Shakespeare during the year will also take some of the pressure off revision time as well.
For some students, poetry is a bit of a brick wall. It can be frustrating to hear other students in class coming up with meanings and interpretations that they don’t see in the text at all. The good news is with some extra work, most students can figure out how to read poetry critically and evaluate the text for themes, emotion, imagery, and more. But it does take practise. This is only one module in their GCSE English Literature lessons, so teachers can’t spend that much time working through the poems. This is another situation where teenagers can be quite shy about putting forward their ideas about what a poet was trying to communicate. However, in quiet, distraction-free one-on-one sessions with a private GCSE English Literature tutor, students can take things one step at a time, and learn how to read poetry closely at their own speed.
Exams revision is where private tutors really shine. It can be hard to know how to revise for English Literature, but an experienced tutor will show your child how to make a revision plan, structure their time, and practise answering long-form answers. There are techniques that make it easier to focus on getting all the right points in their answer, rather than sit there panicking at the blank page. A tutor can teach your child how to outline their answer quickly in bullet points, making sure to catch all the information the examiner is looking for, and then plug in that information into a basic essay format, with appropriate transitions and conclusion. Having a solid plan before going into the exams means students can focus on the content of the questions and evaluating the unseen texts.
The GCSE English Language course sets up students well for taking either the English Language or English Literature A Levels. Even if your child doesn’t decide to go further with English Language or English Literature, the English Language GCSE hones their reading comprehension and writing skills, which will stand them in good stead no matter what they decide to do next. Having a GCS English Language tutor on hand to help with the learning material and essay writing will mean your child will get the most out of their qualification.
In the English Language GCSE, students study both fiction and non-fiction writing from the 19th and 20th century, and learn how to identify different parts of the text– descriptive elements, characterisation, emotion, setting, and how these elements work to convey emotion or intent. It takes some practise to learn how to analyse a piece of text and explain how it compares to another, for instance. There is a lot of focus on story openings, transition points, and endings in GCSE English Language, and getting students to see how authors use language to set the scene, introduce their characters, build tension, shift from different time periods, and bring closure to the story.
Some fiction can be quite easy to discuss this way, but for non-fiction it can be less obvious. In GCSE English Language lessons, students will study at least one famous speech, and see how the narrative and word choice is different to a piece of fiction. An experienced English Language GCSE tutor can provide many different types of examples, such as diaries, newspaper articles, and biographies, so your child can practise in a non-judgemental one-on-one session. It can be hard to do this in front of all your mates in class when you’re not sure of your answers. This way they practise without worrying about looking silly.
There’s a significant creative writing piece to the English Language GCSE exams, and while it may seem like a student could just sit down and write something, some students find this very difficult. Much like learning an instrument, however, creative writing can get better with practise and learning some techniques. Iterative practise with kind and thoughtful feedback will not only help your child find their creative voice, but make it easier to express themselves without agonising over what they’re going to write for ages. An experienced tutor will be able to go through some past writing prompts with your child, and discuss what storytelling elements examiners are looking for. They can also encourage them to go for it and write what they would find compelling to read, and how to turn nearly any prompt into the kind of story they want to write, in the genres they love to read.
There is also a portion of the exams where students must write an opinion piece in response to a stimulus text. This is an entirely different writing skill set compared to the creative writing exercise. Practising coming up with concise and coherent points, and learning some techniques for structuring an argument in writing will go a long way to making this question on the exams much easier. An experienced English Language GCSE tutor can show your child how to formulate their points and back it up with explanations or further evidence, and how to address typical objections to their point of view with persuasive language and counter-arguments. Practising this style of writing will make it loads easier to do under pressure. Once your child has a framework they can use, when it comes to sitting the exam, they can sketch out their main points and slot it all into place without wasting time worrying about how to make it all fit together nicely.
Students working on their GCSEs have loads going on – between friends and activities like sports, music, art or dance and revising for their big exams, they don’t have a lot of time. Travelling to and from a tutoring session takes up a lot of their tight schedule. Thankfully, online tutoring is easy to set up, and allows your child to work with an experienced and enthusiastic tutor from their own room – no travel time needed! It’s easy to find, schedule, and pay tutors all online too, making the whole process quite easy.