English Language GCSE: Comparing Texts

Presenter Kyle Walker compares two texts about Manchester: 'With the World’s Great Travellers, Vol III.' by Oliver G H Leigh (1896), and 'Not a guide to Manchester' by Ben McCarr (2011).

In their exams, students may be asked to compare texts, from two different time periods.

This short film aims to help students understand how to compare texts.

It focuses on the purpose, method, tone, language and audience of each text to examine the similarities and differences between the two.

At the end of the film Kyle explains that students must link their points and can use such helpful tools as mind maps or Venn diagrams to plan their answers.

The process of analysis and planning should guide students towards achieving a good pass at GCSE.

This short film is from the BBC series, GCSE English Language.

Teacher Notes

Before watching

Use this short film to practice comparing texts.

Have copies of 'Not a Guide to Manchester' by Benn McGarr and 'With the World’s Great Travellers, volume III', edited by Charles Morris and Oliver H G Leigh available, plus A3 paper printed with Venn diagrams.

The extracts discussed in the film come from Page 60 of 'Not a Guide to Manchester', and Chapter 1 of 'With the World’s Great Travellers'.

Ask students to fill in the Venn Diagram, noting any similarities and differences between the two texts that they can find.

During viewing

Watch the film together and ask students to add to their diagram.

They could star anything that is mentioned by the presenters which they have already noticed.

Pause to allow students to enrich their notes.

Finally, students can use the extracts and Venn diagrams to prepare an exam style response to the texts.

Suggestions of Pause Points

Pause point: 1:59

  • What immediate similarities and differences do you notice between these extracts?

Pause point: 3:41

  • What is tone?

Pause point: 4:24

  • What are the writers drawing our focus towards? How are they doing that?

Pause point: 5:22

  • What do these adjectives suggest about the city?

Pause point: 6:54

  • Based on the short extracts you have read, what do you think the writers feel about Manchester?

Next steps

Students could then go on to look at past papers and predict the sorts of questions that would be asked about this extract.

They could use these questions to write their responses and achieve a greater understanding of what will be asked of them during their examinations.

Curriculum Notes

This short film is suitable for teaching English language at GCSE in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and National 4 and 5 in Scotland.

More from GCSE English Language

Analysing Fiction
Analysing Literary Non-fiction
Creative Writing in an Exam