Basic outline of mode

How to get the 15 marks for mode on AQA English Language A

Key features the examiner will expect you to discuss


Three Basic Divisions

= Spoken, Written and Electronic

You must be prepared to deal with texts which have mixed mode elements

  • e.g. a speech which has been prepared and written first or an online advert which addresses the reader directly, as if talking to them
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Synchronous or Asynchronous

Are the participants in the text present at the same time (synchronous)

  • e.g. face to face speech
  • a phone conversation
  • MSN
  • a chat room

Or is the text produced for the audience to read/ listen to at a seperate time? (asynchronous)

  • e.g. email
  • newspaper article
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Visual or Auditory channel

How is the text meant to be recieved?

You can only deal with texts in a written format in the exam, but were they originally produced to be heard or read?

visual examples are a newspaper article or a magazine advert

Auditory examples are a interview transcript or radio advert

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Planned or Unplanned (spontaneous)

How planned is the text?

obviously a newspaper article is carefully planned

Much speech and many chat rooms are unplanned

however a text can be both

  • e.g. A glasonbury interview has planned questions from the interviewer and unplanned responses from the interviewee

permanant texts are more planned

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Permanent or impermanent (ephemeral)

Was the text produced to last?

  • Most written texts are to some extent, this overlaps with planning
  • the more a text is expected to be permanent e.g. a new law, the more carefully planned it will be
  • much unplanned speech is intended to be emphemeral and you must remember this even if you are seeing it in a permenant written form in the exam
  • be prepared to discuss degrees of permanence, not just assume all written texts are permenant and all spoken ones are ephemeral
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Interactive or non-interactive

How far does the text try to interact with the audience?

many electronic texts are highly interactive with hyperlinks etc

an ephemeral spoken text could be counted as non-interactive if it is produced with no expectation of an audience e.g. a personal phone call

you should be prepared to discuss different types of interactivity e.g. synthetic personalization, direct questions to the audience, imperatives telling the audience to do something

sythetic personalisation= where the author of a text tries to create a relationship with the audience, as if the text is directly addressing firdt person e.g. 'try me' on food packaging

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Formality or informality

You get very few marks for making vague comments about all written texts being formal or all spoken texts being informal

you must address the level of formality/informality

expected audience is the key influencing factor here e.g. a spoken conversation with no expected audience is often, but not always informal in all the frameworks

be prepared to address planned informality

many written texts e.g. music or film reviews can address the reader in an informal way but actually be carefully planned

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Other tips

  • the examiner will expect you to think carefully about mode
  • you are expected to give a clear overview in the introductory paragraph, but it is not enough to simply list the features
  • to get top band marks you must think carefully about mode and think why the producer of the text has chosen one particular mode over the others
  • what is it about that mode which enables them to communicate effectively?
  • most importantly, why does mode matter? what effect is it having?
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