A Level Spanish

 

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. Where possible we will undertake cinema, music and theatre trips/arts exhibitions and lectures in Spanish. There also exists the possibility of becoming a full member of Cambridge University’s CU Hispanic Society.

The Spanish A level will introduce you to real Spanish in real situations. You will look at the media, literature and film to acquaint you with and develop your knowledge of Spain, her language and culture from past to present.

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 Hispanic Society, which will cover everything from traditional family values to the cyberspace. The second is Artistic Culture in the Hispanic World where you will be talking about Spanish regional identity, music and culture. The film you will study will be one taken from this list: Volver, El laberinto del Fauno, Ocho apellidos vascos, Maria llena eres de gracia, El bola and Las 13 rosas.

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 Hispanic topic for your speaking exam. The new topics are Multiculturalism in Hispanic Society in which you will look at various issues such as immigration, racism and integration; and Aspects of Political Life in the Hispanic World, where you will look at political issues and the modern Spanish state. 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 Spanish 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 Spanish. Unit 2 (Writing) will consist of a 250-word essay on a film and a 70-word translation task into Spanish 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 Spanish. You will also have two translations of 100 words each: one into Spanish and one into English. Unit 2 (Writing) consists of two 300-word essays in Spanish 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 Hispanic 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

AQA A Level Year 1 and AS SpanishStudent Book
By M. Bond, I. Kendrick, F. Mejias-Yedra, F. Villatoro
Published by OUP, ISBN 9780198366904

AQA AS/A-level Spanish Student eTextbook
By M. Thacker, T. Weston, J.A. García Sánchez
Published by Hodder Education, ISBN 9781471858123

 

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

Exam Board and Specification Codes

AS: AQA 7691, A level: AQA 7692

 

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.”