English Language - The Audience

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Vary your writing style to match your audience

Work out who your audience is before you start writing, and think about what style you need to use:

  • "Write a report for your school governors which persuades them to allow changes to your school uniform."

Keep the tone of your writing formal. School governors would expect a professional approach.

  • "Adults often criticise the way teenagers dress. Advise teenagers on how to respond to this criticism."

If you're writing for a teenage audience, you can probably be more informal.

 Sometimes a question has more than one audience for you to deal with:

  • "Write a letter to a magazine called 'Adventure Holidays' arguing for or against adventure holidays for children." 

Your letter will be addressed to the editor of this magazine, but you're also writing for the readers, who may have mixed opinions.

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Questions don't always tell you who the audience i

  • The first writing question (inform or describe) might not say who the writing is for. If that happens, just assume you're writing for the examiner.
  • The second writing question (argue or persuade) nearly always tells you who the audience is
  • "If you could choose, where in the world would you like to live? Explain the reasons for your choice." - There's no obvious audience, so write your answer to the examiner here. 
  • You might think a speech for your school assembly would be informal as you're addressing fellow students, but think about it more carefully...If it's about a serious subject, then you might be better off making your speech more formal.
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Don't make your writing too simple

  • Matching your writing style to your audience is very important
  • If the question asks you to write to a friend, don't write too casually and never use text talk.
  • You can sound chatty but make sure you still include a range of sentences and vocabulary. 
  • Being sarcastic or humorous can help you write 'to a friend' without writing too simply.
  • Remember, you have to show off your writing skills - keep it chatty, but don't get carried away.
  • This is the sort of thing you should be writing - "Of course I'm grateful that they allow me to slave tirelessly into the early hours of the morning"
  • Here are some examples of what not to do: "His fiery, pungent, yet fragrant, aromatic odour reverberated resonantly in my vibrating nostrils." - This is a bit over the top and ridiculous.
  • "Mate, here's some goss 4 ya. That guy from skool u like stank like 2 much BO 2day" - No no no no. Absolutely not. Don't do this. 
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You may have to write in character

Sometimes you have to pretend to be an expert at something. Try to get in character a bit, but don't worry - you won't need lots of specialist knowledge.

"You are a celebrity who has won awards for your work. Write an article for school leavers advising them on how to succeed."

  • You've got to pretend to be a successful celebrity.
  • You can choose what you're famous for.
  • Use a confident, encouraging tone for this audience. 

The reason people sometimes come unstuck in English exams is because they weren't prepared. The earlier you learn all this stuff the easier you'll find it in the exam. You'll have time to get in plenty of practice in advance so it shouldn't be too scary when you're faced with the real thing. 

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