Improving Close Language Analysis



We are what we repeatedly do. At the moment, our students are repeatedly writing weak close language analysis.

In our AQA GCSE breakdown for language the average score for Q2 (P1) and Q3 (P2) was much lower than I had anticipated. This is a worry, mainly because the ability to write good close language analysis is the nuts and bolts of all four exams. Unless we get this single thing right, we are unlikely to make huge gains on other parts of the exam.

During our INSET department time, we agreed that we would make this, and only this, the focus of our starter activities all term for Y11.

Attached is a simple 28 slide PPT, with single quotes from both literature texts and unseen fiction (slides 1-5 Jekyll and Hyde, slides 6-10 Macbeth, slides 11-15 L&R poetry, slides 16-20 An Inspector Calls, slides 21-28  unseen fiction).

Every Y11 teacher will be using this for a variety of starter activities throughout term 3. These include:

  1. Identifying what language techniques are being used.
  2. Identifying which are the rich language words in the quote.
  3. Identifying the contextual importance of the quote (the point in the narrative, the themes it highlights, the character information revealed etc.)
  4. Analysing the effect of individual words, specifically answering the question of why this word? by considering synonyms and connotations
  5. Analysing the effect of the word or phrase in sentence and in context.
  6. Constructing short analysis paragraphs drawing together the above, using a variety of modelled frameworks which do not include ‘This shows that….’
  7. Magpie-ing (stealing) the good work of others to improve own work.
  8. Repeat, repeat, repeat.


Taking the quotes from literature texts means we will also be surreptitiously revising literature content. The little voice inside my head that reminds me of  the ‘need to interleave’ is calmed knowing that students will have to draw on their factual knowledge in order to write with fluency about each quote. The bottom line is also that – without the confidence to do this properly, all writing becomes reduced to thin, formulaic, descriptive, and often very short responses.

Please feel free to use and adapt the PPT here.



3 thoughts on “Improving Close Language Analysis

  1. This is great, thanks!
    Just wondering if you could give some specifics on the ‘modelled frameworks’, because I too am seeking ways to avoid the dreaded ‘This shows…’

    • Thank you. Simply, sentence starters and sentence frames. The work of Andy Tharby (@atharby) is really good in this area, so is Phil Stock (@joeybagstock ) If you look at their blogs they have frameworks to use. Hope that helps.

      • It helps loads – thanks so much. As a new teacher of English I find your pearls of wisdom invaluable, so thank you!

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