How do I work out the text's audience?

2 years ago


16 Replies




Julius Prosacco

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16 Answers

Finnbar Profile Picture

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Hi Julius!

Great question. Knowing the audience will always help you to understand the writer's choices and to create a more developed, thoughtful response. In an English Language exam, you will always get a small box at the top of any source telling you where the text is from. You should be able to work out the audience from this.

For example, here is the information from the top of an AQA English Language, Paper 1 exam:

"Source A is taken from the beginning of a short story written by Joanne Harris. Mr Fisher, a teacher of English for forty years, works at St Oswald’s Grammar School for Boys."

From this, we can make a general guess that the audience will be anyone from the age of 16+. In this example, the genre and type of text is not very specific so we can relax in the knowledge that it won't affect your answer so much.

I hope this helps!

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Elliot A Profile Picture

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Consider what the text is trying to do (its 'aim') and who this might be most effective for. For example, imagining how texts might cause different reactions in different age ranges, expert levels, genders, locations and more. You might consider the difference of how the same news story is shown in different publications, e.g. a tabloid which may be more sensationalist, versus a more in-depth, 'unbiased' view given from a different newspaper. You can apply this to fictional texts too, continuing to ask the question -- how would these different groups a reader might belong to cause them to have a different reaction, and what would be most effective? With this, we might imagine the audience the author had in mind while writing.

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Matas Gricius

The audience could depend on the type of text e.g. is it a novel, a play. Additionally, context is important. When is the text set? If it is posted by a specific body e.g. a school authority it is likely that your audience are teachers, parents, students. Hope that helps!

Nicole Haslem

To identify a text’s audience, whether that be nonfiction or fiction texts, you must first figure out the text’s specified/main topic in order to decide whether it is aimed at a particular group of individuals of a particular age group, particular gender etc... In other words, finding out the context, tone and use of speech/narrative in a text can mainly help to identify the target audience.

Jake Inns

There is actually a surprising amount of ways to work out a specific texts audience. First off, it's always important to consider who is most likely going to be interested in the text and who is most likely to consume it? Secondly, who is the author of the text? Have they written any other texts? What target audience are their other works? And are they similar?

The two above are some important examples to help with finding out a text's audience. Another may be the language that is being used? Are the words more simple to understand? does it use specialist vocabulary, or easy words, or polysyllabic vocabulary? What is the tone?

Once you start to look into the above questions; then you may be able to draw who your texts target audience. This could be the audiences age range e.g. 12-14 or their sex, background, personality, where they live etc.

I hope this helps :)

Evie Booton-Ford

The question will tell you the TAP - the text time, audience, and purpose!

Majid Hussain

If you're reading literature, then the theme, social historical context and language will help you figure out a text's audience.

For example, we know that the audience most suited to reading Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird must be mature, because of the sensitive themes of race and class in 20th century America explored in the novel.

The novel is set in an America with deeply rooted racist institutions. This social context, along with the criticism the novel draws towards this society, shows us that this society, which Lee is criticising at large, is her intended audience.

The deeply racist language used by various characters again shows that the audience must be of an older age. The colloquial words and phrases are distinct to the novel's setting, again showing us that the novel's intended audience must have been those of the American South.

Having said all that, the impact a text has can give you an idea of its audience. To Kill a Mockingbird is significant throughout the world because of how it interrogates racism. You could say that the novel's audience is towards anybody capable of grasping its themes of race and injustice.

Samantha Hemming

The most basic way of understanding the audience intended for a text is by looking closely at the type of language and syntax used. Ask yourself some questions:

Is the language basic and simple or sophisticated?

Is the language formal or is it informal and relying on colloquial language or slang?

look at the structure of the sentences. Are they simple, compound or complex?

What can you detect in the type of punctuation that has been used? Would this guide you towards the intended audience?

Once you begin to ask these types of questions for each text, you will begin to see how you can easily pick apart the writer’s intended audience. Remember, a writer wants their work to be read and to be accessible, so they will have gone to great effort to ensure that their aim is true!

Amy Zhu

Hi Julius

If you are referring to a writing task, just imagine who you are talking to/ the task requires you to write to. Most of the time, you write your essays or compositions for your teachers, so just think if your teacher will understand you.



Krissi Hadley Profile Picture

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It's all about who would best understand it. If things are simple vocabulary, straight to the point then it's most likely for a younger audience. If it has technical terms that are explained, it could be an expository text for teaching a teenage audience.

You've got to identify the point of the writing, why the author wrote this text, what they are trying to teach or show, and then we can figure out who the text is meant for.

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Jessica H Profile Picture

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The audience that the text is aimed towards is made apparent by the type of language used. For instance, if the vocabulary and adjectives used are quite simple, we could assume that the text was aimed towards younger readers or people whose first language isn't necessarily English. If the text uses in depth vocabulary as well as adjectives and abstract concepts and or imagery, we could assume that the text was aimed towards an older reader or someone with a greater understanding of the subject at hand e.g a professional in a specific topic.

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Jacob Berry

To understand a text's audience, you need two things: to understand the author of the text, and when they were writing (otherwise known as context). Understanding the general context of when a text was written allows you to deduce who the audience was, and what their perceptions might have been. Meanwhile, understanding the author gives a more precise view of who they aimed their work at, why they wrote in the first place, and what parts of their own perceptions influenced their work. I hope this helps!

Vicki E Profile Picture

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For GCSE papers when initially reading over extracts you should be looking to identify purpose, audience and format.

Purpose - This is why the text has been written in the first place. Is the writer looking to persuade you of something; instruct you to do something? There are 9 purposes in all that are good to know for GCSE level: persuade, advise, argue, inform, analyse, evaluate, describe, entertain, instruct.

Audience - Once you have worked out why something is being written, you can then move on to who is it being written for. You'll find that some texts appear to have rather wide audiences and some which are rather niche. Wider groups could be relating to gender and age. Small audiences could be based on a special interest that the text is centred upon e.g. theatre or fishing.

Format - This is nice and straightforward! You now need to look at how a piece is written e.g. poster, newspaper article, speech.

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Andrea P Profile Picture

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The best way to figure out the audience is to consider the PURPOSE. If the purpose is to persuade people to buy a product, then one thing you can know about the audience is that they are people who have money to make purchases and have free will to make buying decisions. If the purpose is to make people laugh then consider what you are laughing about and what demographic (age, gender, profession, education level, social class, etc.) would find that funny and you have your audience.

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Lucy C Profile Picture

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This a really important element to consider and you should try to build up a picture of the audience...if you don't know who the reader is, you won't know what they find interesting. Remember you are not the intended reader of the texts!

If it is for the reading questions for Language Papers Two, as you are reading the extracts ask yourself the following questions:

  • What is this text mainly about?
  • Who would be interested in this topic? Who is the author trying to reach?
  • Who would open this up and read or listen to it If it was sent to them in a message or email? Who would click and read this if they came across it on social media? Who would send this onto friends or colleagues?
  • What would they find interesting?
  • What would their view be in relation to the view expressed by the author?
  • What are their other views?
  • Are their any clues that tell you who the reader could be? E.G. which newspaper is the text from? Who would typically read that paper?

I hope this helps!

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