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Evaluate the Language Techniques in 'Checking Out Me History'

In this worksheet, students will evaluate the language devices used in the poem 'Checking Out Me History'. Students will also gain an understanding of the wider context of the poem.

'Evaluate the Language Techniques in 'Checking Out Me History'' worksheet

Key stage:  KS 4

GCSE Subjects:   English Literature

GCSE Boards:   AQA

Curriculum topic:   Poetry

Curriculum subtopic:   Power and Conflict: 'Checking Out Me History'

Difficulty level:  

Worksheet Overview

QUESTION 1 of 10

For this activity, you will need to turn to the poem 'Checking Out Me History' by John Agard, which can be found in the Power and Conflict section of your Anthology.

 

 

tropical island

 

 

'Checking Out Me History' looks at how identity is created through history. 

 

The poem gives examples of powerful black figures from history, often involved in conflicts themselves in one way or another.


Noticeably, the poet emphasises how we often celebrate our national or cultural history, without looking at the history and culture of those we were in conflict with and perhaps those countries our nation oppressed.

 

 

 In the following questions, you will be asked to evaluate the language devices used in the poem.

palm tree

 

 

In order to evaluate the language devices used in 'Checking Out Me History', we need to understand the meaning of the poem. Read the poem and match the questions to the answers below.

Column A

Column B

What is the poet at conflict with?
The poet has written in a way that shows his accen...
What is noticeable about the style of the poem?
The poet is at conflict with the way he was taught...
Who are "dem"?
His own cultural identity and history
What does the poet want to "check out"?
People in authority

Teacher reading

 

 

 

Now that you have read the poem 'Checking Out Me History', choose one of these summaries which you think best explains the poem.

 

The narrator has moved to a new school in a new country. He is surprised that he is not taught about the same historical figures as he was back home

The narrator is rebelling at the version of history he was taught at school. Back home his parents tell him about Caribbean figures

The narrator was not taught about his cultural heritage at school. He feel angry that figures from Caribbean history were not acknowledged

Let's recap your knowledge of language devices so that we know what to look for in the poem.

 

 

Writing paper

 

 

Match the language device to the definition.

Column A

Column B

Alliteration
Words which sound like the effect they describe
Simile
Comparing two or more objects with the words "like...
Onomatopoeia
Describing an inanimate object or animal with huma...
Metaphor
Direct comparison of two things without using the ...
Personification
Two words placed together with different meanings ...
Oxymoron
Words beginning with the same letter sounds

Read the following metaphor from 'Checking Out Me History',

 

 

"Bandage up me eye with me own history".

 

 

eye

 

 

What is the effect of this language device?

 

It creates the impression that the narrator was physically harmed by the people teaching him

It creates the impression that the narrator has been stopped from learning his cultural history

It creates the impression that the narrator did not want to learn what he was being taught

In 'Checking Out Me History', repetition is used with the following quotation:

 

"Dem tell me".

 

 

teacher with class

 

 

What is the effect of this language device?

 

It creates the impression that he did not know the names of the people who taught him

It creates the impression that he was bombarded with history as a child

It emphasises the idea that he told what to learn instead of having freedom to choose

The poet uses juxtaposition to describe what he was taught as a child,

 

"Dem tell me bout 1066 and all dat. Dem tell me bout Dick Whittington and he cat"

 

 

 

cat

 

 

What is the effect of this language device?

 

It creates the impression that as a child he was confused between what was fact and fiction

It creates the impression that he loved learning about history and stories

The poet uses metaphor to describe the historical figure Toussaint Louverture,

 

"Toussaint de thorn to de French".

 

 

 

 

What is the effect of this language device?

 

It creates the impression that Toussaint was a difficult person

It creates the impression that Toussaint was someone to be admired and remembered

It creates the impression that Toussaint had a very difficult life

Re-read the quotation from the last question,

 

"Toussaint de thorn to de French".

 

ship

 

Can you explain the effect of the language device used in this quotation?

 

For this question, you will have to write your answer using the PEE format - Make a point, give an example, explain with deeper detail.

The poet uses a metaphor to describe another historical figure Mary Seacole,

 

"A healing star among the wounded".

 

 

star in night sky

 

What is the effect of this language device?

 

It creates the impression that Mary Seacole worked hard at night

It creates the impression that Mary Seacole was a dangerous person

It creates the impression that Mary Seacole was someone to be admired and respected

Re-read the quotation from the last question:

 

"A healing star among the wounded".

 

 

 


Can you explain the effect of the language device used in this quotation?

 

For this question, you will have to write your answer using the PEE format - Make a point, give an example, explain with deeper detail.

  • Question 1

palm tree

 

 

In order to evaluate the language devices used in 'Checking Out Me History', we need to understand the meaning of the poem. Read the poem and match the questions to the answers below.

CORRECT ANSWER

Column A

Column B

What is the poet at conflict with...
The poet is at conflict with the ...
What is noticeable about the styl...
The poet has written in a way tha...
Who are "dem"?
People in authority
What does the poet want to "check...
His own cultural identity and his...
EDDIE SAYS
'Checking Out Me History' is an assertive and justifiably angry poem which links the history taught in school to cultural identity. The poet talks of "dem"(the people who taught him history) and it's clear that he feels a sense of separation and anger, as he feels he was "blinded" from his own history. He explains how, as an adult, he is only now learning about his own cultural identity.
  • Question 2

Teacher reading

 

 

 

Now that you have read the poem 'Checking Out Me History', choose one of these summaries which you think best explains the poem.

 

CORRECT ANSWER
The narrator was not taught about his cultural heritage at school. He feel angry that figures from Caribbean history were not acknowledged
EDDIE SAYS
The first person narrator was not taught about his cultural heritage at school. He feels angry that important people from Caribbean history were not acknowledged. Now that he has found out about them, he is excited to learn more as this will help him form and understand his own identity and roots.
  • Question 3

Let's recap your knowledge of language devices so that we know what to look for in the poem.

 

 

Writing paper

 

 

Match the language device to the definition.

CORRECT ANSWER

Column A

Column B

Alliteration
Words beginning with the same let...
Simile
Comparing two or more objects wit...
Onomatopoeia
Words which sound like the effect...
Metaphor
Direct comparison of two things w...
Personification
Describing an inanimate object or...
Oxymoron
Two words placed together with di...
EDDIE SAYS
Well done if you managed to match them all! Language devices are a great way for poets to create imagery and convey tone. They also get you more marks in the exam, if you can identify them! Remember to always look out for language devices and try to use them when you are analysing a quotation.
  • Question 4

Read the following metaphor from 'Checking Out Me History',

 

 

"Bandage up me eye with me own history".

 

 

eye

 

 

What is the effect of this language device?

 

CORRECT ANSWER
It creates the impression that the narrator has been stopped from learning his cultural history
EDDIE SAYS
The quotation "Bandage up me eye with me own history" is a metaphor to describe how the poet was kept from knowing his own history and thus identity. It shows that the narrator feels that the people who educated him actually caused him harm, as they stopped him from learning about his own cultural identity, purposefully.
  • Question 5

In 'Checking Out Me History', repetition is used with the following quotation:

 

"Dem tell me".

 

 

teacher with class

 

 

What is the effect of this language device?

 

CORRECT ANSWER
It emphasises the idea that he told what to learn instead of having freedom to choose
EDDIE SAYS
The quotation "Dem tell me" is repeated throughout the poem and is a reference to the people in authority during the poet's childhood. The pronoun "dem" suggests that he felt alienated from the people teaching him, or that he was different from them. He is angry that he was only allowed to learn what they 'told' him to and that because of this, he missed out on studying his own Carribean history.
  • Question 6

The poet uses juxtaposition to describe what he was taught as a child,

 

"Dem tell me bout 1066 and all dat. Dem tell me bout Dick Whittington and he cat"

 

 

 

cat

 

 

What is the effect of this language device?

 

CORRECT ANSWER
It creates the impression that as a child he was confused between what was fact and fiction
EDDIE SAYS
In this quotation, the poet employs juxtaposition to illustrate the conflict between the eurocentric history he was taught and his own childhood confusion. He was taught both fact and fiction, but as he could not relate to these things culturally, he did not understand what was real and what was not. To him, everything just sounded like stories. The phrase "and all dat" suggests that he was never really interested in this history, it conveys a flippant tone.
  • Question 7

The poet uses metaphor to describe the historical figure Toussaint Louverture,

 

"Toussaint de thorn to de French".

 

 

 

 

What is the effect of this language device?

 

CORRECT ANSWER
It creates the impression that Toussaint was someone to be admired and remembered
EDDIE SAYS
A metaphor is used to describe Toussaint as being a "thorn" to the French which creates the impression that he was strong enough to cause such an economically dominant nation (France) great trouble during battle. He was the leader of a slave rebellion and it's clear that the poet thinks that he should have been taught about him as a child. Notice how the poet uses italics when describing the Caribbean figures? This is to signify a change of tone in the poem, conveying a sense of importance to the narrator.
  • Question 8

Re-read the quotation from the last question,

 

"Toussaint de thorn to de French".

 

ship

 

Can you explain the effect of the language device used in this quotation?

 

For this question, you will have to write your answer using the PEE format - Make a point, give an example, explain with deeper detail.

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
Example answer: One of the historical figures the poet refers to is Toussaint Louverture, who is described in admirable terms. The poet uses the metaphor "Toussaint de thorn to de French" to describe how Toussaint was able to conquer more well known and powerful nations and become somebody who was able to challenge the French colonisers. He conveys the idea that it is wrong that he was taught about the military leaders from countries such as France and Britain, but was not taught about historical figures related to his own cultural history.

Although the whole of this question is marked out of 30, for this answer the student will only be making one point (AQA recommends that a student makes 3 comparison points throughout the essay) so we will mark this answer out of 6.
In order to gain full marks on this question the student should have written an extended paragraph that follows the PEE structure.
You should find a point, an example and an explanation.
The paragraph should include a quotation, language technique and some evaluation.

  • Question 9

The poet uses a metaphor to describe another historical figure Mary Seacole,

 

"A healing star among the wounded".

 

 

star in night sky

 

What is the effect of this language device?

 

CORRECT ANSWER
It creates the impression that Mary Seacole was someone to be admired and respected
EDDIE SAYS
The poet uses a metaphor to describe Mary Seacole as a "star". Mary was a nurse who risked her life to help men who had been wounded in battle - very much like the more famous Florence Nightingale. The poet describes Mary Seacole with positive, uplifting language. Comparing her to a "star" suggests that she brought hope and light to the people who were wounded.
  • Question 10

Re-read the quotation from the last question:

 

"A healing star among the wounded".

 

 

 


Can you explain the effect of the language device used in this quotation?

 

For this question, you will have to write your answer using the PEE format - Make a point, give an example, explain with deeper detail.

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
Example answer: The narrator gives an example of another historical figure who he admires and who he would also like to be remembered. He uses a metaphor to describe nurse Mary Seacole as a "healing star among the wounded" and indicates that she was just as influential as the more well-known nurse Florence Nightingale. This creates the impression that black historical figures, such as Mary and Toussaint, have not been given the respect they deserve as they have not been studied or remembered as much.

Although the whole of this question is marked out of 30, for this answer the student will only be making one point (AQA recommends that a student makes 3 comparison points throughout the essay) so we will mark this answer out of 6.
In order to gain full marks on this question the student should have written an extended paragraph that follows the PEE structure.
You should find a point, an example and an explanation.
The paragraph should include a quotation, language technique and some evaluation.

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