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This unit of work has been designed to enable students to develop the skills they would need to examine multi-modal texts. Students would analyse (media) multi-modal texts for Question 2, Component 2 in the A level Language and in Question 2, Component 2 for AS Language.
The multi-modal texts are analysed so that students can reveal what they know about Language and Gender/Power/Technology for the A level and also Language and Power or Language and Gender for AS.
This unit has these areas in mind but is attempting to make students think about how multi-modal texts work.
- In groups of three or four, each group has an abstract picture such as Umberto Boccioni’s Forces of the Street 1911. See Learner Resource 1.1.
- Each group to give it a title and write it clearly underneath the picture.
- Swap the now-titled picture with another group, and decipher the meaning of the picture.
- Compare the interpretations as a class. Do they differ from one another? Discuss why this might be.
- Now ask students to look at the next 2 pictures on Learner Resource 1.1.
- Decide as a class: does the interpretation alter depending on what the title is?
- Ask students to write down their own explanation about what is happening on a white board or a piece of paper in no more than one sentence.
- To test this further, look at the final picture, in Learner Resource 1.1 and encourage students to write down what features they see it as the teacher plays an extract from Vivaldi’s Spring.
- Ask students to listen again as the teacher plays an extract from Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, and see if you notice anything more about the picture.
- Look back at the explanation that was written on the white board or paper, and discuss whether your interpretations have changed.
- What students are tackling is the subject of semiotics. They are beginning to think about how meaning is made, and specifically how meaning is made if they put together two different modes (e.g. writing and visual image, or visual image and music). Obviously, language is only one way of making meaning, and that is complicated enough.
The class are given the word below, and asked to write down what it makes them think of. They may all have different ideas, as their responses will be affected by their own position in the world; by their values and views, for example:
Now repeat the word association with the second word. Are there any differences in the connotations?
Perhaps they are now focused on a person or being (from history maybe). Just by placing two words next to one another, a different meaning is produced and, each time, we respond consciously or otherwise to how the two elements (in this case, two words) react together. And this is just two words. Obviously, it is unlikely that the paper in Component 2, Section B will include texts with just two words. It is more likely that the exam paper will include texts that contain images, text, graphological features, perhaps hyperlinks or online advertising inserts etc.
Multi-modality may be been around since man has placed pictures and words on the same piece of papyrus, but since the arrival of specifically Web 2.0, multi-modality has become increasingly multi-layered, and, arguably, complicated.
To do a good job of analysis appropriate tools are needed. In Learner Resource 1.2 are some tools that are relevant to both linguistic and to visual analysis. In pairs, the class can work to sort them out into two groups: linguistic and visual.
Discuss as a class whether they agree. What they may have found is that there are overlaps in the tools that they need to analyse the visual and the written.
They could develop this further, and run a quick debate on two or three “tools” that seem to fit both, arguing the case that they are better suited for either the visual or the written (pragmatics, for example).
Once they have agreed, or agreed to disagree, each group of three should take one aspect of analysing a visual image (e.g. colour, angle, focus, shape etc) and write the word on one side of a Post-it note. On the other side, students should write three questions that would help other students to write about that particular aspect. (For example: Colour: what are the predominant colours that are used? What connotations do those colours have? Are they repeated anywhere else on the page, and if so, why)?
- Ask students to look at the image in Learner resource 1.3 and use their questions to prepare and to deliver a presentation on that specific aspect to the rest of the class.
- In order to analyse a meaning of this image, they will have been working to discover its context, its purpose and its audience. Discuss as a class how the following piece of information affects their reading of the image:
This is 3b of the Ladybird Key Words Reading Scheme (of a 12 graded scheme), published in 1964.
- In student groups you should now write the text that they think goes with this image. They might consider aspects of gender and power that may have emerged in their analysis of the image. (Use the table in Learner resource 1.3 to help with analysis)
- Think, too, about the proximity and perspective that have been discussed. To further help, the advisory notes for this reading scheme include the following:
1. Inverted commas are not used at this level
2. Abbreviations may be used
3. Each word is repeated about 11 times in the 24 pages of text
4. The new words used on this page are “good” and “girl”
5. The page should contain no more than 40 words
- The teacher should now take in all of the finished pages. They will read out all of the student texts, as well as reading out the original version. They will not say which the original is. In groups the students should vote for the one that they think is the original. Points are awarded if the student version is voted for, and also if they vote for the correct one.
Students take their version and compare it with the original (in Learner resource 1.4 ): analyse how it differs in terms of lexis, semantics, phonetics, grammar (sentences, clauses, phrases) and pragmatics. Discuss as a class what they noticed about the differences between the student’s version of the text and the original.
- In pairs, ask students to look back at your analysis of the image from the previous activity, and discuss whether the writing changes their reading of the image.
There are a few pointers to start them off in the table in Learner resource 1.5 , or the ideas can be integrated into discussion:
- What students may have noticed is the different physical ways in which they read the text and the picture.
- Use Learner resource 1.6 for a quick check list for the writing
- Ask students to return to their pairs. Make each pair face each other, so that they can see each other’s eyes. One person hold the image in front of them, and the other person should observe how their eyes travel around the page as they look at the image.
- Compare observations with the pair sitting next to them, what did they look at first, for example?
- We may know that physically, we tend to read a visual image and a written text differently, but in terms of Component 2 Section B, what additional skills are they being asked for when they are analysing a multi-modal text?
- Learner resource 1.7 is a Venn diagram that the teacher could enlarge so that it can be used as a wall display for future reference. In groups, or in a whole class discussion, decide which skills or knowledge are needed in order to interpret meaning in a written and in a visual text. The skills are listed in the Learner resource, in no particular order.
Students should be bringing together what they have learnt already about multi modal texts and now applying this in analysis that is now starting to bear some similarity to the topics that will be studied for the exams – Component 2 of the A level Language and Component 2 of AS Language.
The focus for this section will be on the Peter and Jane ‘Learning to Read’ series and will ask the classes to initially break into groups and then bring the pieces of analysis back for the whole class to consider.
The final activity is in a sense a practice for the exam – the teacher can use as they see fit.
- In the exam students will analyse the language of media, but the process of decoding is the same on any multi-modal text, and it is useful to practise on an apparently simple text so that they can see just how rich a piece of analysis can be.
- They can either work through these sections individually, or in pairs, or it would work well to divide the class into groups, and have one group working on one section and then feeding back in a whole class discussion.
Tasks for the groups
- From what type of text do you think the following words come? Look up any words if you do not know their meaning. Decide on the genre, the readership, the intended audience. Give at least three reasons for your answers:
Elicit, fervour, nevertheless, eponymous, don, loom eloquently, nurtured, undergone
- Look at the following idioms and metaphors. Can you decide from what sort of text they come? Who is the intended audience? What is the topic? Give at least three reasons for your answers.
Stroke of genius, loom eloquently, carefully nurtured until all its fruits are harvested.
- Look at the following syntactical constructions that can be found in a table in Learner Resource 1.8. Can you decide from what sort of text they come? Who is the intended audience?
Sentence 1: Adverbial premodifer, followed by rhetorical question
Sentence 2: Two word, minor sentence
Sentence 3: Adverbial discourse marker, followed by the main clause in the present conditional tense, followed by a coordinating clause in the past tense.
Sentence 4: Two adverbial phrases (working as pre-modifiers), followed by the main clause in the present tense.
In the left hand column of the table in Learner Resource 1.8 are the actual sentences you have just discussed. Compare them to the four sentences on the other side of the table and decide what the differences are between them. What do those differences reveal in terms of intended audience or purpose?
- Look at the following verbs or verb phrases:
Going, elicit, look forward to, published, understands, arrive, knows, announced, arrives, poses, steps, slips, don, wrapped, loom, nurtured, harvested, influenced, signifies.
Can you sort them into dynamic and stative verbs, and comment on what you observe about the different types of verbs? What do you notice about the tense change? Can you decide what the text might be about?
- Look at the following possessive pronouns, pronouns and proper nouns:
Your, someone else’s, your, M E Gagg NFU, our, Ms Gagg, Susan, John, mother’s, happy pair.
Can you decide what purpose the use of the first person possessive pronoun might have? What is the significance of referring first to M E Gagg, and then to Ms Gagg? Who might the “happy pair” be, and what connotations does that collocation have?
- Look at the following lexical clusters:
Birthday parties, writer, birthday, story, celebration, nurtured event, children’s party, harvested, party (x2), going, steps, published, arrives, fruits, author, farm labour, National Farmer’s Union.
What four semantic fields can you find here? What do they reveal about the nature of this text: its audience, purpose and context?
- Look at the following phrases and descriptions:
Poses daintily, baby blue, crisply-ironed, steps confidently, don, slips, loom eloquently.
Can you decide which might be applied to a female character and which to a male character? What might this reveal about the context of the writing, or about the bias or perspective of the author?
- Once each group has fed back to the class in a class discussion, as them to write (in no more than one sentence) a description of the text.
- Look at the original text (see Learner Resource 1.9) which is from ‘The Ladybird book of Children’ (2006).
- Discuss how accurate they were in the reading of the purpose, audience and context of the written text. Decide as a class how the purpose, audience and context differs from the juxtaposed visual images (they might use the prompts of colour, layout, line, angle, position, perspective, medium, and motifs to help them analyse the image)
- Look at the following statements and rank them in terms of which they think most accurately represents this multi-modal text:
1. The writing is central to this text
2. The visual images are central to this text
3. The writing transforms the message of the visual images
4. The meaning of this text is produced in the interaction between the written and the visual
5. The written and the visual work together to create meaning
6. The differing contexts, purposes and audiences of the visual and the written elements make it difficult to interpret a meaning.
- Having studied a multi-modal text in some detail and considered the important skills needed to analyse it, these skills can be now applied to a typical media text of the kind they might get in the exam.
- Ask students to study the words on Learner resource 1.10 and highlight the clues there are that suggest what this article might be about, and who the audience is.
- Now look at a section of the text itself, which is Learner resource 1.11. In pairs, one person needs to look at the extract and the other person should watch where and how their eyes travel around the page. Repeat this exercise with the written outline just looked at. Discuss as a class whether there was any difference in the way that the person looked at each text.
- Let’s now take the text apart more systematically. Divide the class into four groups. Each group is responsible for providing analysis of one element of this multi-modal text.
Tasks for the 4 groups
- Analyse Learner resource 1.12, decide on the audience, the purpose and the context. You will need to use the methods and the skills that you have been developing.
- Analyse Learner resource 1.13, decide on the audience, the purpose and the context. You will need to use the methods and the skills that you have been developing.
- Analyse Learner resource 1.14 , decide on the audience, the purpose and the context of the following adverts. You will need to use the methods and the skills that you have been developing.
- Analyse the following extract that is in Learner resource 1.15 from the comment or forum section of the webpage. Decide on the audience, the purpose and the context of these posts. You will need to use the methods and the skills that you have been developing.
- You will also need to refer to any work you have been doing on language and technology, such as:-
– the mimicking of real speech in computer mediated discourse like this
– Non-anchored relationships (people who don’t know each other in offline world)
Then each group to feedback thoughts to the whole class.
Now to follow up the last lesson, let’s now study the entire text with more of an exam focus.
The full text is Learner resource 1.16.
Put the students into groups and ask them to imagine they have been set the following question: “By detailed analysis of the text, and with reference to relevant linguistic ideas and concepts, investigate how language features and contextual factors construct meanings” and decide what one would like to see in an answer.
They may want to use the table in Learner resource 1.17 to help them draw up their “mark scheme”.
- Once each group has devised their exam marking scheme, swap the schemes between the groups.
- Feedback to the class, sharing the one most interesting thing that that has been learned from the other group’s mark scheme.
Now try a similar text. ‘Ladybird man who taught Britain to read with Peter and Jane books’, is the sort of multi-modal text that they would encounter in Component 2, Section B (although the article is a little longer than they will encounter for real).
- The question is: “By detailed analysis of the text, and with reference to relevant ideas and concepts, investigate how language features and contextual factors construct meanings”.
- Using this question, write an answer.
- Language levels
- Close reading and accuracy
- Application of language concepts and terminology
- Connections between the different elements of the text
- Language and power, gender and technology.
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© OCR 2015 - This resource may be freely copied and distributed, as long as the OCR logo and this message remain intact and OCR is acknowledged as the originator of this work.
OCR acknowledges the use of the following content:
Learner Resource 1.1: wikiart.org
Learner Resources 1.3, 1.4, 1.7 & 1.9: The Ladybird Book of Childhood/Boys & Girls: Penguin Random House UK
Learner Resource 1.11, 1.12, 1.13, 1.14, 1.15 & 1.16: Article: Clever tricks to do your child’s birthday party on the cheap, Published: 05 May 2013, Contributor: Liz Phillips, Copyright Guardian News & Media Ltd 2013