The New English GCSE Language

Cardiff & Vale Tutors is facing a huge volume of  requests for tuition with the new GCSE English Language. Both Schools and Parents seem worried by this complicated new specification.

In our latest article Emma Rowell, our English GCSE tutor & a WJEC Examiner, explains why there is no need to panic!

The new GCSE specification for English language may seem complicated but panic not! Help is at hand!

Structurally speaking, the new specification is very well organised. Consisting of three units (imaginatively named Unit 1, Unit 2 and Unit 3), it aims to assess a variety of reading, writing and oracy skills.

Unit 1 – Speaking and listening.

In this unit, pupils are assessed on their ability to interact in a group and individually. Worth 20% of the overall Language qualification, it’s worth putting in a little extra effort. Group discussions are research based – three topics are given to schools and candidates are given a week to research and prepare. It’s best not to go overboard with notes – it should sound as natural as possible. Individually, candidates are invited to present their ideas and opinions on a topic, chosen from a shortlist of five as specified by the WJEC.  Candidates are awarded marks based on the content and organisation of their work as well as the way they speak.

Unit 2 – Reading and writing.

A 2 hour paper (yes 2 whole hours… don’t worry, they’ll fly by!) to be taken under exam conditions, this paper aims to afford candidates the opportunity to show off a range of reading skills. Candidates are given approximately 5 texts to read – don’t worry; they range from infographics to articles. In this paper, there is a section which requires candidate to proof read and edit a piece of work – better get cracking on those grammar activities! There is one extended writing task in Section B of the paper, in which pupils will choose from a narration, description or exposition task. This paper makes up 40% of the Language GCSE.

Unit 3 – Reading and writing.

Another 2 hour paper (Sorry!), usually taken a week after Unit 2, this paper has stark similarities to Unit 2. Candidates are, once again, awarded marks based on their understanding of a number of texts as well as the quality of their extended writing. The main differences lie in Section B. This section has 2 compulsory writing tasks and there is no editing and proofreading activity. This paper makes up the remaining 40% of the Language qualification.

One of the main thing to bear in mind is that candidates are marked heavily on their Spelling, punctuation and grammar. So, it may be worth going over those spelling strategies!


So, there you have it! GCSE English language in a nutshell. In order to best prepare for the upcoming exams, it is recommended that candidates read as much as possible. Read anything you can get your hands on! You wouldn’t starve your body… don’t starve your brain.


By:  Emma Rowell  is a Tutor  & Teacher  of 9 years, hardly any grey hairs! Undergraduate degree in English Literature and Welsh (first language) from Swansea University, Masters degree in English specialising in Creative and Media Writing also from Swansea University, PGCE Secondary English from Swansea Metropolitan University. Currently teaching English in a Welsh medium school and surviving on coffee and KitKats!

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