Saturday, 28 July 2012

English Language Post continued!

Following on from the initial English Language post I feel I should clarify a couple of points, as well as add some extra information in regards to the CIE course.

From a personal point of view we were (and are) very happy with the CIE board. They are renowned, apparently, for enjoying original  and unique exam papers and a student's personal points of view which is quite a rarity.

They don't seem to have anything too risque in their syllabus and the content is modern but not trashy. Having read through  many past exam papers I have not yet to date found anything I would consider immoral.

Regarding the Catherine Mooney courses. I am not endorsing them here as I have no experience of them personally. However many home educators have used Catherine's two courses and she has a very high pass rate and is supportive.

When I said English Language is usually the 'first port of call',  that is to say most people regard English and Mathematics as the 'essentials' and will opt for these exams first so the child has some form of qualification.

What I did not mean to insinuate is that English is an 'easy' option and that all home educated children should choose this first. (Just in case any one thought this was being proclaimed!).

English, like all subjects, can be extremely challenging to some children. Many children despise writing or may have significant trouble with it and will prefer subjects like Mathematics or the sciences. If this is the case then it would be wise to take English at a later date and concentrate on the subjects the child enjoys more.  Others have a natural inclination to write; enjoying creative writing stories and poetry composition from a very young age. These children will, naturally, have less trouble with the IGCSE when they come to take it.

Our son Ben who has already taken the CIE IGCSE English Language at 14yrs just loves English. As it is his strongest subject and something he enjoys for 'pleasure' we felt he was able to take the exam early and first. Of course had he not been keen, or an avid writer, I would have held back  as I do believe English Language requires a maturity on behalf of the student. This applies to English Literature even more. (A post on this will follow but many HErs take the Literature exam later as the child will need to write essays {three if doing the CIE board} and have an understanding of how to answer an essay style question.)

In Ben's case he took the Literature this summer at 15yrs and felt he was better equipped to answer these style questions than he would have been the year previously.

A very helpful and informative yahoo group which many Catholic Home Educators are on (but it is secular ) is ;

I am sorry this address has only appeared now- I am still working out how to add links, answer comments and post information ! Please bear with me as I learn the art of blogging and keep sending in comments and advice! Thank you so much for all the kind support shown already, and God Bless!


  1. Amanda I have only the greatest admiration for you entering the blogging world - i do not have the skill or courage to do so and I'm sure there are many of us who are grateful for your courage in this area, so be assured of my patience and prayers fo this endeavour.

    Thank you too for clarifying some of your thoughts on English, all of which make perfect sense to me.

    Perhaps we might collectively come up with a helpful list of things to ask a tutor before employing them?

    your comment above about success rate suggests the obvious ones of:

    What percentage of students that you have tutored gained grades A* - C in the last 2 years?

    Over what time frame do students usually study an IGCSE with you? (or possibly what is the range of time frames, e.g. 3 months, 1 year, 2 years, longer?)

    What deadlines do you set for completion of assignments?

    How quickly do you expect to return assignments upon receipt?

    What opportunities for tutorial contact do you offer? (e.g. face to face/groups, phone, email, skype)

    One of the advantages we have in making private arrangements with tutors is that we can do our best to make sure that the tutor is a good fit for our situation - which is a different thing from being a "good tutor" per se.

    1. Dear Yorkmum,

      These all sound like excellent questions to as a prospective tutor.

      I am of the understanding that the IGCSE courses can take as long as a student needs although a paid tutor may have their own goals in this regard.

      As English is 'my' subject (one of the very few I assure you!LOL) I just down loaded a few past papers from the CIE board for Ben. He already had a very strong grounding in reading, comprehension, grammar and creative writing so he was confident enough to not even require any text books. One text book we were given though which is quite useful is;

      and this one;

      God bless!

  2. Hi Amanda

    It's good to see your blog and I'm glad to see what you have written about English. I have a blog for all those who are interested in looking at English Literature (and the English language) from a Catholic perspective and wondered if it might be of any interest to you and your readers:

    1. Dear Roy,

      Thank you very much indeed for finding us and telling us about your blog. i will be sure to add it to the links of helpful blogs once I become more organised!
      Do you have any preferred boards for English? The CIE board offers a good range of Literature including Shakespeare for IGCSE. God bless!