IGCSE First Language English
What is IGCSE?
IGCSEs are the same as GCSEs and are accepted in just the same way.
What is First Language English?
This subject is only available to students whose native language is English. It is not suitable for students whose mother tongue is another language. For these students, there is English as a Second Language, although a course for this specification is not offered currently by Learning at Home. To find out more details they should go to the Cambridge University website: http://www.cie.org.uk/.
This course is only concerned with English Language; there is no specific study of literature although reference is made from time-to-time to literary texts and techniques.
Designed for students for whom English is their mother tongue, IGCSE First Language English develops the ability to communicate clearly, accurately and effectively in both speech and writing. Students learn how to employ a wide-ranging vocabulary, use correct grammar, spelling and punctuation, and develop a personal style and an awareness of the audience being addressed. Students are also encouraged to read widely, both for their own enjoyment and to further their awareness of the ways in which English can be used. IGCSE First Language English also develops more general analysis and communication skills such as synthesis, inference, and the ability to order facts and present opinions effectively.
Who is the awarding body?
The awarding body is University of Cambridge International Examinations.
What is the course title and code for this qualification?
Cambridge IGCSE First Language English Syllabus code 0500.
How is the course structured?
We will begin by looking at what the examination board, the University of Cambridge, will require of you in the way of examinations. You will be referred to what you need to do in terms of registration and arranging with an external centre for you to take the examinations.
Once the administrative matters have been cleared up, we will look at the specification we will be following. We will look at the proportions of marks within each examination paper.
We will then look at a number of grammatical and stylistic issues that often confuse students whether they have recently been in education or have been away from it a long time. There will be opportunities for you to undertake self-assessment exercises to ensure that you have understood the rules and conventions.
The different styles of writing and the techniques associated with them will concern us next, and you will be doing both practice exercises and actual assignments which your tutor will be feeding back to you on. These will be important documents so you should retain them as they will constitute an important part of your revision for the examinations.
However, the key part of the course which is important in every aspect is planning your essays. Here we will be looking in detail at how to go about this. We will be looking at the different requirements for the examination essays and how to construct an appropriate response to the different types.
We will also be looking at the type of question that used to be called ‘comprehension’ where you will have to look at a passage from a story or newspaper and draw out the required information. By the time you get to the examination, you should be well versed in this exercise as you will in writing well constructed essays.
As part of your course, you will be supplied with the Study Guide for IGCSE and A Levels. Do make use of this as it has been written to help you with your studies and to supplement the specific information and guidance given in the course material itself.
What does the course prepare me for?
As well as preparing you for the examinations, there is guidance on many of the basics of English Language including:
• Common errors
• Punctuation rules and conventions
• Nouns, adjectives, verbs and adverbs
• Sentence structure
• Presentation of essays
The main thrust of the course, however, is to prepare you for the examinations. To this end the focus on essay planning and writing in coherent sentences and paragraphs whilst employing a variety of styles and a wide vocabulary will be of enormous benefit to you.
What will be in the examinations?
If you have looked at the full specification on the Cambridge website, you will have noticed that there are various options including coursework. Please note that we will be preparing you only for the examinations options, Papers 2 and 3. These two written papers are the only papers you will need to take to gain an IGCSE. No coursework is required.
The papers have the following structure:
Paper 2: Reading Passages (Extended)
Candidates answer three questions on two passages of 600–700 words each, linked by a common theme.
Eligible for Grades A*–E.
50% of total marks – 40% on Reading and 10% on Writing.
Paper 3: Directed Writing and Composition
50% of total marks – 10% 0n Reading and 40% on Writing.
Where do I sit my examinations?
Students are reminded that it is their responsibility to find and register with a centre to take the examinations. Learning at Home cannot take any responsibility for this.
The following is a list provided by Cambridge University on their website:
It is also worthwhile approaching local schools and colleges to see if they are willing to accept you as a Private Candidate. When consulting them, take with you details of the specification as they are far more willing to listen to your request if they can seeimmediately what will be involved on their part. Do stress that there is no coursework component involved, merely two exams of 2 hours each. Have the syllabus number to hand as well.
Is Learning at Home my centre for the examinations?
No. Your centre is the one you have to find to sit your examinations through.
When can I sit my examinations?
The examinations are available in June and November each year. However, you do need to ensure that your centre is able and willing to handle your entry. They are not obliged to accept you as a candidate so do not make any assumption that you will be able to do the exams when you wish.
A further consideration is whether you are allowing yourself time to complete the
necessary preparation prior to taking the exams. You are allowed twelve months’ support from so you will need to take this into account when making
your plans. It may be possible to extend you tutorial time but this will be subject to an extra charge by your tutor.