Cambridge IGCSE First Language English is designed for learners whose first language is English. The course enables learners to develop a personal style and an awareness of the audience being addressed, use a wide range of vocabulary and the correct grammar, spelling and punctuation, and develop the ability to communicate clearly, accurately and effectively when speaking and writing.
What do you enjoy about the subject?
Zheng Yi: The idea of doing coursework.
What is the most challenging about the subject?
Bernice: For me, it’s the reading paper. I find it typically harder for me than the coursework. I think the question 1 for paper 2 is okay, but then you have to have a lot of points and write good too, so you can get more points on it. So I think that you lose more marks on the way you write than the information you give in it so that’s really important about it and I find it hard to give the right points and information in it as well.
Zheng Yi: What she just said.
Sandreeka: Actually finishing coursework, because you usually go halfway through and then just like ‘bleurgh’; you have like a block, so.
Was there anything about the subject that was different from your initial expectations?
Bernice: I expected it to be around the same, but we had to do coursework, which is a new thing in year 10. And we have 3 coursework: 2 coursework in year 10 and then 1 in year 11 so that’s different from in year 9.
Zheng Yi: What she just said, I mean involving coursework and stuff, you won’t expect it until you are told in lessons.
Sandreeka: Yeah... and also I feel like the amount of time they give you - like they give you a really long time for the drafts of coursework, and then once they mark it they’re like ‘okay! You have 10 days now, complete it!’
What do lessons look like in terms of writing, independent study, collaboration, etc.?
Bernice: You do more independent study for your coursework so you are given a title/a topic and there will be descriptive writing, then there will be a debate (persuasive writing) and then there will be argumentative writing. And so they give you the title/topic and then you have to do your own research about it, you have to write it out yourself - the first draft - and you actually have to change quite a bit. And then after that, you hand it in to your teacher and then he/she might look through it once and give it back to you and you’ll call it the first draft. So the second and third draft, they don’t really ask you to give it to them, but you have to do it yourself so it’s more independent. And then after that it will be the final draft and then that’s it - you have to hand it in and you can’t change it anymore so it’s really independent I guess. So if you’re really not that independent about it, then I suggest you should ask your teacher for more advice everytime.
Zheng Yi: Yes, there are definitely elements of collaboration. Sometimes I think it’s a good idea to exchange your coursework with one another to get feedback from everybody, like what they think about it, what they think you should implement and yeah. I think teamwork and cooperation is very important in making the perfect coursework for the perfect grade.
Sandreeka: In terms of writing, you don’t really write that much unless it’s coursework. There are hardly times where the teacher gives you like ‘oh, hey! Go home and write an essay!’ No, you don’t get that and even if you are taking down notes, there are hardly any notes for English.
How much homework or independent study will I be doing a week in this subject?
Bernice: It depends on which stage you are at in the subject, so like if you’re doing coursework, most of the time it’s like every week you do your own work because it’s independent study and you write your own essay. So mostly every week you need to work on it, improve it. If it’s more exam based, you do more of the exam paper writing, maybe like a few papers - maybe one paper per day. But it really is up to you: how important you treat the subject. If you treat it as really important, you might do more exercises then. Others who don’t treat it as important as they do, then you would do less.
Zheng Yi: Yeah, coursework is definitely very important because it carries forward like it adds on to your exam paper. So during exam season, it is recommended that you do as much past papers as you can but you must get feedback; there’s no point doing it if you don’t get feedback and you think like ‘oh cool, I’m gonna get an A’.
Sandreeka: I agree with them, but other than coursework, the teacher hardly gives you anything to do, language especially. You don’t have that much homework.
What are the skills or knowledge you can develop in this subject and why are they useful?
Bernice: I think the top skills you can get from this subject is that maybe later in your working space where you have to write work reports to your boss or maybe you have to write speeches and you're in presentation, it actually helps you to know what to write down. Maybe you are into marketing, so you have to write your persuasive speech about why people should buy this product and others. So I guess it does help to it.
Zheng Yi: When you are in a very stressful environment, especially the exam hall, you are required to manage your time very wisely. People often advise that you should implement a certain amount for this question, and a certain amount for that question so that you don’t panic and mess up at the end. So time management is very important.
Sandreeka: Also I feel like another skill that you learn is PEEAL and it helps you with your analytical skills, which you can use for history, and if you want to pursue law, it will also help you to have analytical skills.
Any tips for the newly entering students?
Will taking any other subject help me to become successful in this subject?
Bernice: I’m not really sure because English Language is the subject that helps other subjects and not the case of other subjects helping it.
Zheng Yi: I think you can use English literature, especially the technique of PEEAL into question 2. Although the PEEAL in question 2 is not as extensive as the literature one, it still can be used.
Sandreeka: Yeah, I agree with them. There’s no other subject which helps English because English is basically the base of most subjects, so English helps other subjects.
Overview by Ms. Pillay
Describe your subject in 3 words
Fun, creative, enjoyable.
What are the top 3 skills needed to be successful in your subject?
You need to think out of the box, you need to challenge yourself and read a lot.
How does your subject promote professional development?
Well, language is vital in your future progress, especially English which is spoken worldwide, so if you excel in English, you pretty much secure a future.
What’s the best thing about your subject?
I teach it.
Papers in IGCSE English Language
Paper 2: Reading passages
50% of total mark
Candidates are given a passage and you have got to: 1. Write an essay based on that, 2. Identify words and phrases that create effect, 3. Summarise the text.
Coursework: Descriptive writing, persuasive writing and argumentative writing
Throughout the 2 years leading up to the IGCSE tests
50% of total mark