11 Plus English: Why Context Matters


In the 11 Plus English paper, it is insufficient to comprehend the text at a surface level. Encouraging your child to delve deeper and gain a contextual understanding can enrich their responses.

By exploring historical, cultural, or societal contexts relevant to the text, your child can better grasp the material. This knowledge will enhance their comprehension skills and empower them to excel in the creative writing sections, giving them a valuable edge.

Historical Context: The Time Machine

Understanding the era in which a text is written or set can unveil valuable insights into its characters, settings, and events.

Parental Guidance: If a text unfolds in a particular historical period, engage your child in discussions about its vital historical elements.

For example, when exploring historical context, you might discuss Charles Dickens’ “Oliver Twist” set in Victorian London. By understanding the hardships faced by people with low incomes in the 19th century, your child can better appreciate the characters’ struggles.

Cultural Context: Expanding Horizons

Comprehending the cultural backdrop can infuse depth into the analysis, particularly in comprehension tasks.

Actionable Approach: Broaden your child’s literary horizons by exposing them to diverse cultures and discussing the distinctive facets that captivate their interest.

You could introduce your child to African folklore through Chinua Achebe’s “Things Fall Apart” or immerse them in Japanese culture with Yukio Mishima’s “The Sound of Waves.” Discussing the cultural nuances in these works will enhance their understanding.

Societal Issues: Reading Between the Lines

News concept with newspapers

Many texts either overtly or subtly tackle societal issues. Being attuned to these themes can offer a fresh perspective in creative and analytical writing tasks within the 11 Plus.

Parental Guidance: Encourage discussions about relevant societal issues when reading with your child. Pose questions such as, “Why do you think the author chose to incorporate this theme?”

For instance, J.D. Salinger’s “The Catcher in the Rye” provides an opportunity to explore issues of adolescence and alienation. Encourage your child to analyse how the protagonist’s experiences reflect broader societal concerns.

Interdisciplinary Connections: Linking to Other Subjects

Sometimes, a comprehensive understanding of a text may necessitate knowledge from other fields like science or history.

Parental Tip: Foster your child’s ability to connect what they read with their learning in other school subjects.

Consider connecting literature with science by discussing Michael Crichton’s “Jurassic Park” and the ethical dilemmas posed by genetic engineering. This interdisciplinary approach can deepen their appreciation of both subjects.

The World Around Us: Current Affairs and General Knowledge

Keeping up with contemporary events can provide a modern angle to textual analysis.

Practical Advice: Incorporate discussions on current events into your family routine, perhaps during a designated weekly “news hour.”

Use reliable sources like BBC News, National Geographic, or reputable newspapers to stay informed. Engaging your child in conversations about current affairs will help them draw connections between real-world events and what they read.

Essential Checklist for Parents:

  1. Historical Primer: Discuss the historical context of texts where relevant.
  2. Cultural Sensitivity: Expose your child to a diverse range of literature.
  3. Societal Issues: Make societal themes a topic of discussion.
  4. Interdisciplinary Links: Encourage connections between literature and other subjects.
  5. Current Affairs: Keep your child informed about the world around them.

11 Plus 11+ 11 Plus tutor 11+ tutor

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.