A Level French

 

What is it about at sixth-form level?

The A level specification builds on the knowledge, understanding and skills gained at GCSE. The focus is on language, culture and society. French, along with English, is one of the only two languages spoken on every continent in the world. Therefore, this course is suitable for students who may wish to work abroad in a new and exciting environment, or undertake a modern language degree.

French encourages students to develop their linguistic abilities and their critical thinking on the basis of their knowledge and understanding of French language, culture and society. Other skills developed in French, such as communication, research skills and creativity are transferable to many forms of employment and as such are highly valued by employers.

Students develop their ability to interact effectively with users of the language in speech and in writing. The course includes communication strategies to build fluency and confidence. Students use authentic spoken and written sources in French to develop their understanding of themes relating to Francophone cultures and societies.

Lower sixth

We focus on how French-speaking society has been shaped, socially and culturally, and how it continues to change. In the first year, aspects of the social and artistic life of French-speaking countries are studied. For example, students will look at the changing nature of family and ‘cyber-society’ as well as contemporary francophone music and cinema as the seventh art form. Alongside these themes students work on grammatical structures such as relative pronouns, comparatives and superlatives in order to express themselves accurately.

Upper sixth

In the second year of the course further aspects of the social background are covered, such as life for those on the margins of French-speaking society, as well as looking at the positive influences that diversity brings. Students also study aspects of the political landscape in a French-speaking country, looking at immigration from the political perspective and at the way in which political power is expressed through action – for example strikes and demonstrations. Grammar such as dependent infinitives and the subjunctive mood is studied for greater accuracy.

Why study it and what skills does it develop?

Discovering a different culture gives a new dimension to the world around you and is a valuable learning experience. Students develop their oral and written competencies and become increasingly confident, accurate and independent users of French. They begin to engage critically with intellectually stimulating texts, films and other materials in French, enabling them to appreciate sophisticated and creative uses of the language. Critical thinking will be developed alongside the four language skills. This course will stretch the learner both cognitively and linguistically. Furthermore it will foster his or her ability to learn other languages.

What prior knowledge and skills are required?

An A or A* in French GCSE is desirable with a B as a minimum as the jump from GCSE to A level is considerable. If it is your mother tongue or a second language, you will need to be able to speak and write it proficiently. You will also need an interest in other cultures and a logical mind to cope with the grammar.

How is the course assessed?

Lower sixth

For the AS, there are three exams. The exams test your competency with respect to the two major topic areas you have learned and the film you have studied. Unit 1 (Listening, reading and writing) will test your ability to comprehend and respond to various written texts and listening extracts of the themes covered in French. Unit 2 (Writing) will consist of a 250-word essay on a film and a 70-word translation task into French where you will have to use correct grammar and vocabulary. In Unit 3 (Speaking) you will have to talk about two stimulus cards for 6-7 minutes per card. The cards are based on the themes covered in class. Unit 1 lasts 1 hour 45 minutes and is worth 40% of the AS. Unit 2 lasts 1 hour 15 minutes and is worth 30% of the AS. Unit 3 lasts 12-14 minutes and is worth 30% of the AS.

Upper sixth

For the A level, there are three exams that cover all four general topic areas together with the film and literary text. Unit 1 (Listening, Reading and Writing) will check your comprehension of a variety of texts and extracts, with all the questions being in French. You will also have two translations of 100 words each: one into French and one into English. Unit 2 (Writing) consists of two 300-word essays in French with questions set on the film and the text studied. Unit 3 (Speaking) will be a discussion of a theme based on a stimulus card followed by a presentation and a discussion of an individual French research project. Unit 1 lasts 2 hours 30 minutes and is worth 40% of the A level. Unit 2 lasts 2 hours and is worth 30% of the A level. Unit 3 lasts 21-23 minutes and is worth 30% of the A level.

Reading

AS and A Level student books (AQA French)
By P. Shannon, R. Pike and C. Povey
Published by OUP, ISBN 978-0340968529

Bonjour Tristesse
By F. Sagan
Published by OUP, ISBN 978-0340968529

Un sac de billes
By J. Joffo
Published by OUP, ISBN 978-0340968529

Exam Board and Specification Codes

AS: AQA 7651, A level: AQA 7652

 

The information above is correct at the time of going to press (May 2016). The specification is currently under review by Ofqual and has not yet been accredited. However, it is likely that the final accredited specification will differ, if at all, only in points of very minor detail.

Anastasia

Grades achieved at MPW
A*A*A*

Progressed to
University College London (Economics) 

“Honestly, I could not imagine when I joined MPW that, due to language and adaptation barriers, I would achieve top grades in my first A-level exam sittings. This view changed completely after only a few weeks in the college’s supportive and motivational environment; with teachers who aimed at finding a personal touch with each student and with my Personal Tutor who made my adjustment to the UK education system not only an easy step in my life but, more importantly, an enjoyable one.”

Julia

Grades achieved at MPW
A*AABB

Progressed to
King's College London (International Relations)

 “The teachers really helped me overcome any difficulties I came across; they always seemed willing to offer support be it inside or outside of the classroom. I could safely say my teachers inspired me to work hard and aim for the best, sometimes simply by being passionate about what they do.”

Andrew

Grades achieved at MPW
A*AA

Progressed to
University of York (Law) 

“Having a Personal Tutor to discuss ANYTHING with, from my UCAS application to organising my life in general, really did make life at the college more streamlined and in general less stressful.”

Cynthia

Grades achieved at MPW
A*A*A*A

Progressed to
University College London (Economics)

“My subject teachers and Personal Tutor have been very patient and helpful in supporting my studies and university application.”

Akmaral

Grades achieved at MPW
A*A*A*

Progressed to
University College London (Mathematics and Statistics)

“International students have many aspects to think about, such as accommodation and guardians, but MPW surprised me by having a highly organised and supportive administration. Also, because most MPW Cambridge students are local, as an ‘international’ student, I found this very useful in both improving my English and in giving me a taste of a genuinely ‘English’ college.”