A Level German


What is it about at sixth-form level?

Learning a modern language for GCSE is a matter of taking your first steps. You learn rudimentary grammar and vocabulary that enable you to get by but real conversations are still beyond your reach. It is at the sixth-form level that you will deepen your grammatical competence and broaden your vocabulary so that you can converse about and debate real-world issues, and immerse yourself into the culture, literature and arts of the country. Even though we live in an age where it seems English is spoken everywhere and where Google Translate will help you where it is not, there is nothing like the experience and satisfaction of being able to step inside a different way of speaking and seeing the world.

The German A level will introduce you to real German in real situations. You will develop the knowledge and skills to enable you to step inside another culture and enjoy the long and rich history of German art, literature and cinema.

Lower sixth

In the first year, you will focus on two major topic areas, grammar and translation, and the study in depth of a film. The first topic is Aspects of German-speaking Society, which will cover everything from family values to the digital world and youth culture. The second is Artistic Culture in the German-speaking World where you will be talking about Berlin’s cultural life, art and traditions. The film you will study will be one taken from this list: Good bye, Lenin!, Das Leben der Anderen, Die fetten Jahre sind vorbei, Almanya – Wilkommen in Deutschland, Sophie Scholl and Lola rennt.

Upper sixth

In the second year, you will revise your knowledge of the two AS topics and the film, and you will cover two more topics, as well as undertaking a detailed study of a literary text and its themes and context. You will also be required to research a German topic for your speaking exam. The new topics are Multiculturalism in German-speaking Society in which you will look at various issues such as immigration, racism and integration; and Aspects of Political Life in the German-speaking World, where you will look at political issues; the re-unification of Germany and its consequences. The study of a literary text will be a short novel or play drawn from the AQA prescribed list. 

Why study it and what skills does it develop?

Knowledge of a foreign language is ever more valuable in an increasingly connected world. Many employers look for knowledge of at least one other language across a wide range of jobs. Understanding a language is a first step to understanding a people and a culture. Another language enables you to enjoy everything from a casual conversation to a classic novel as it was meant to be read. It also provides a means by which to reflect upon your own culture and gain a deeper understanding of your mother tongue. An A level is typically a prerequisite for studying the language at university.

What prior knowledge and skills are required?

An A or A* in German 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 German. Unit 2 (Writing) will consist of a 250-word essay on a film and a 70-word translation task into German 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 German. You will also have two translations of 100 words each: one into German and one into English. Unit 2 (Writing) consists of two 300-word essays in German 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 German 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.


German Grammar for A level
By J. Klapper, T. McMahon
Published by Hodder Education, ISBN 978-0340968536

Collins German Grammar & Practice
By Collins Dictionaries
Published by Collins, ISBN 978-0007456017

AQA A Level Year 1 and AS GermanStudent Book
By E. Klingler, D. Sauer, K. Sydenham, C. Schicker
Published by OUP, ISBN 978-0198366898

The literary text will be specified at the beginning of the course.

Exam Board and Specification Codes

AS: AQA 7661, A level: AQA 7662


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.


Grades achieved at MPW

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.”


Grades achieved at MPW

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.”


Grades achieved at MPW

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.”


Grades achieved at MPW

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.”


Grades achieved at MPW

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.”