Transitioning into A Levels

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isobel738051
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#1
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#1
Hi everyone
I'm starting A Level Spanish, Philosophy and English Lit in September - can anyone who studies these subjects suggest anything useful to do over these long holidays? I know it's a time for relaxation but I do enjoy academic work and would like to get a head start on my A Levels e.g. is it worth learning the vocab for the first topic or two for Spanish (as I don't mind doing so)
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LucyH2001
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#2
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#2
I did philsosphy and English lit A Level. My advice would be to read around for English- articles, books, novellas and make a list of critical views/reception and genre links to the book you're studying e.g. the gothic/ dystopian (also would be a good head start to read all the texts you're studying and familiarise yourself with them by annotating/making notes)
again for philosophy- articles are useful on the topics you're studying for instance a topic like religious language (if you're studying that). Also read ahead if you've bought text books for the subject and look at the specification. It's premature but it's always useful to know the content you're going to be examined on and what is relevant
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understress
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#3
I can't speak for Philosophy or Spanish, but I'm doing English Literature right now and all I can say is read the set texts, and annotate them if you want to. I wouldn't go as far as reading critical analysis, because unless you've kind of developed your way to understand different perspectives I think it would be difficult. It would be better to have a knowledge of context first, I think. Again I can't speak for Spanish but it's probably the case that if you want to get a head start and start learning, go for it - less to do later!
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redmeercat
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#4
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#4
I'm doing History, French and English lit, so pretty similar! I think in terms of French it's probably just worth trying to use your French as much as possible. There's an app called HelloTalk which could be really useful, and if you try to do 5-10 mins listening practice per day (podcasts, TV or music - message me if you want ideas!) Would be really helpful. If you feel like doing some grammar work then you should also make sure that you're secure with all your GCSE tenses and grammatical structures. Vocab is fine to do, but not necessary as you will have to refresh it anyway for vocab tests.

In terms of English, I'd buy and read any texts that you know that you'll be studying. One of my books (The Little Stranger) is 499 pages long and I know that a lot of people struggled to read it over the Christmas holidays! If you read them now then you can read and enjoy at your own pace.
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yotsr123
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#5
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#5
(Original post by isobel738051)
Hi everyone
I'm starting A Level Spanish, Philosophy and English Lit in September - can anyone who studies these subjects suggest anything useful to do over these long holidays? I know it's a time for relaxation but I do enjoy academic work and would like to get a head start on my A Levels e.g. is it worth learning the vocab for the first topic or two for Spanish (as I don't mind doing so)
I don't know about Spanish or Philosophy but for English Lit there's no advantage to doing any work over the summer. Even if you decide to read the book you have to simultaneously think about context, critical analysis, connections to other books, literary time periods, themes etc. So you won't really get a head start anyways as you wouldn't have analysed the book with the above in mind. Your teacher will go through this with you anyway step by step in class.
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redmeercat
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#6
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I disagree - part of English lit is knowing what you think, and you can't know what you think about a book unless you've read it independently. Also, if you're studying a book like The Little Stranger which close to 500 pages, you won't have time to go through page-by-page in class. It's just generally advantageous to have read the books before you estudy them, rather than just thinking about them as set texts from the off. Summer is an opportunity to enjoy reading them!
(Original post by yotsr123)
I don't know about Spanish or Philosophy but for English Lit there's no advantage to doing any work over the summer. Even if you decide to read the book you have to simultaneously think about context, critical analysis, connections to other books, literary time periods, themes etc. So you won't really get a head start anyways as you wouldn't have analysed the book with the above in mind. Your teacher will go through this with you anyway step by step in class.
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yotsr123
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#7
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(Original post by redmeercat)
I disagree - part of English lit is knowing what you think, and you can't know what you think about a book unless you've read it independently. Also, if you're studying a book like The Little Stranger which close to 500 pages, you won't have time to go through page-by-page in class. It's just generally advantageous to have read the books before you estudy them, rather than just thinking about them as set texts from the off. Summer is an opportunity to enjoy reading them!
Sure if you want to get yourself acquainted with the characters and plot you can read the book in the summer however I would argue that when reading a set A level book you're still in that GCSE mindset however at A level there's many other elements that come in like context knowledge about the time the book was written in and the author's biography for example that can completely change one's opinion on the book and characters. Plus, analysing words, phrases and dialogue can again change your opinion about a character that you just won't do when simply reading a book.
So, you can definitely have an opinion at surface level when you read the book in the summer but surface level opinions at A level aren't adequate enough and therefore aren't advantageous to have so that's why I just recommend to leave it in September. Sure you won't have time to read the entire book in class but once you get yourself acquainted with your notes from A levels when you read the pages you skipped in class you will be much better equipped to have a deeper understanding and form deep opinions about the book.
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redmeercat
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#8
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#8
I understand what you mean, but books are written primarily to be read by non-analytical readers, so I'd argue that, since in analysis we are analysing the subconscious impact on the reader, one should read it as a reader rather than as a literary analyst in order to form the opinions that you will later dig deeper into.
(Original post by yotsr123)
Sure if you want to get yourself acquainted with the characters and plot you can read the book in the summer however I would argue that when reading a set A level book you're still in that GCSE mindset however at A level there's many other elements that come in like context knowledge about the time the book was written in and the author's biography for example that can completely change one's opinion on the book and characters. Plus, analysing words, phrases and dialogue can again change your opinion about a character that you just won't do when simply reading a book.
So, you can definitely have an opinion at surface level when you read the book in the summer but surface level opinions at A level aren't adequate enough and therefore aren't advantageous to have so that's why I just recommend to leave it in September. Sure you won't have time to read the entire book in class but once you get yourself acquainted with your notes from A levels when you read the pages you skipped in class you will be much better equipped to have a deeper understanding and form deep opinions about the book.
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Jazzy4949
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#9
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I took religious studies (which included 3 papers: philosophy, ethics and theology). I would probably say its best to wait for summer homework (if you get any) but if you want something to do here are some suggestions:
1) find some general criticisms and read some general things i.e. Dawkins who is a MAJOR critic - I would suggest something like the God delusion or Peter Vardy's book The Puzzle of Ethics/God/Evil etc as these books were designed for A-level students
2) Go through your spec and get your folder organised ready - put sections in for each bit with tags and the spec for that particular topic as well as maybe printing off past paper questions
3) teachers usually do not go through things in spec order (the case for both me and my friend who did different exam boards and qualifications that were similar) so ask them which topic will be covered first and make some textbook notes
4) it might be useful to look at key scholars (Plato, Aristotle, Epicurus, Socrates, Anselm) who inspire many other scholars throughout history - maybe do a bio for ones listed on your spec
5) also look at the context of the time for your scholars - this can be added to your bio
6) ask your teacher for a reading list - mine gave one out in yr 13 which also had films, tv shows and games

Hope this helped
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