Non-fiction and media texts always form a part of the GCSE English Language exam and it is imperative that you have a general understanding of how to approach these type of texts.
First of all let us mind the GAP!!
What is the type of text?
In the exam, this will be obvious as you are usually told where the text comes from e.g. a newspaper, a magazine, a website, a book etc. Knowing where the document comes from will help you to think about the intended audience.
Who is the text aimed at? What audience did the writer have in mind. Remember different styles of writing will be used for different audiences. Consider the way you talk to your teacher as compared to how you would talk to your friends.
What does the text want you to do?
Remember that all documents have a purpose - some entertain, some inform, some persuade, some argue etc. The text will always have a specific purpose, there may also be more than one purpose. In order to maximise your grades, you should mention all the possible purposes of the text!
Now to get deeper into our analysis, let us make a LIST!!
Is the language persuasive, informative, descriptive? Is the language more suited towards adults or children- make sure you have evidence to support your conclusions. Is the language emotive? Does it make you feel angry, happy or sad? Alternatively, does the writer use informative language? (which is language that conveys facts). Or is there a mixture of emotive and informative language? Does the writer use direct address? To reach those high marks you have to understand why specific words/phrases are used!
Is the information in the text factual, opinion or a mixture of both. You would need to identify this. For example, you could talk about how the writer’s opinion seeks to persuade the reader into thinking the same way as them. In order to help understand the writers opinion, you can look at the title of the text, the conclusion and what type of factual information is presented.
How is the text presented e.g. are there pictures used, are the words long or short, is the text written in bullet points or short paragraphs, are colours used to make it eye-catching. These are all similar to presentation devices (sub-headings, headings etc). You would need to consider the effect of the style on the writer’s intended audience e.g.if there are colours and pictures used, the writer may be seeking to appeal to a younger audience.
Tone is linked to language and can be defined as the attitude of the writer towards the subject in the text. In the exam you would need to comment on the tone of the text, is it sad, funny, angry etc. What evidence supports your conclusion e.g. has the writer used ellipsis or bold print for emphasis or anger? Or has the writer used a lot of facts to help convey a serious tone. Or does the writer/ speaker use a passionate tone to persuade or to show you how strongly they feel about the topic?
A little task for you to try……
Consider looking at a couple of the non-fiction texts written below. Try using the GAP approach to understand the nature of the text. When you are comfortable with your understanding, go on to use the LIST approach to identify the specifics within the text:
· newspaper article
· magazine article
· list of instructions
· dictionary definition
· blog column in a newspaper or magazine