In English Language A Level you look at various aspects of the English language, one of which being comparing the types of form – i.e. spoken and written language. This includes looking at the features of each and comparing them. One of the “advantages” of written language that is highlighted during any comparison is its permanence in the sense that when something is spoken, unless you record it, it is lost, but something written is usually pretty permanent.
I enjoy writing and the written form is my favourite method of expressing myself. I find it easy to write down something – a description, a commentary, an answer to a question or my thoughts about something. I find that it allows me to logically transcribe what I’m thinking and arrange my ideas and thoughts effectively.
Usually, when I write something such as a blog post or an essay, I will sit and think for a few moments about how I want to start the first paragraph and then I will start writing. I rarely plan – I just start writing and the rest of the text just flows naturally. After I have written out the first draft, I will reread it several times adjusting phrases, updating grammar and perhaps rearranging a few sentences or adding some additional detail. Despite not planning I don’t find that I need to rewrite anything. I can only remember one or two instances where I have written something out for a blog post and then not posted it at all, and those were on a different blog about personal topics.
This ability to “just write” has been particularly useful under test conditions. I know people who have to plan out an essay structure to get a good mark in an exam (particularly in English or History exams for example), but I have found that I don’t need to. I look at the question, work out how to start and just write. Having revised beforehand, the knowledge I have is converted into a structured essay as I write it down. Occasionally I’ll think of something that could fit in later and I’ll jot down a single keyword, but the only time I remember doing that was in my Business Studies A Level exam.
One thing I will always remember is when I got full marks on a Business Studies A Level module exam and my teacher asked me to tell the rest of the class how I write my answers. When I explained what I said above – that I don’t plan and just write – she was not too pleased! But it works for me. It won’t work for everyone, or even most people. It takes time and experience to discover how you learn best, and then how to express that in an answer to an exam question.
My ability to do this, coupled with the fact that I really enjoy writing, led me to choose Law as my degree subject. In my opinion, you cannot get any more advanced than legal prose. The complex structure – particularly grammar but also lexis – makes any legal document difficult for most to understand. Being able to fully comprehend such documents makes the legal profession quite elitist, and rightly so. Legal language is the very peak of the use of the English language and something I regard very highly. It is not easy to do.
I didn’t (necessarily) choose law to go on to practice as a lawyer, I chose it because I wanted to both improve my ability to write and to understand the complex system that is pretty much at the heart of society in the developed countries in the world, if not all the countries. What started as a handy ability to answer exam questions progressed into actually writing a blog (or two) for fun and will hopefully develop into something I can use in a future career, whether it is in the law or not.