A Level Italian


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 Italian A level will introduce you to Italian society, history and culture. You will read the Italian press, listen to the Italian news and watch Italian films so as to develop your knowledge not just of the language, but of the country where it is spoken.

Lower sixth

In the lower sixth, you will focus on two major topic areas. The first is Changes in Italian Society, which will cover family, education and work. You will cover the changes affecting family, study the Italian education system and the world of work. The second is Politics and the Arts, where you will look at the media, society and politics, music and its impact. You will also cover a detailed analysis of the Oscar-awarded film by Roberto Benigni “Life is Beautiful” (“La vita è bella”). Interesting for both its links to Italy’s recent past, this comedy is also admired for its beauty and
cinematographic techniques.

Upper sixth

In the upper sixth, you will revise your knowledge of the lower-sixth topics and cover two more, as well as undertaking a detailed study of a play. The first of the new topics is Italy: A Society in Evolution in which you will look at immigration and the north-south divide. The second topic is From Fascism to the Present Day. This will give you an insight into Italy’s recent past from the Mussolini’s regime to the second world war and its impact on the contemporary political scene. This will lead to a focused piece of research entailing the reading of Luigi Pirandello’s play “Six Characters in Search of an Author” (“Sei personaggi in cerca d’autore”).

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?

You should ideally have an A or A* at GCSE. 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?

A level

For the A level, there are three exams. All exams test your competency with respect to the topics you have learned. The Paper 1 exam (Listening, Reading and translation into English) will test your listening comprehension skills, your ability to read and respond to a variety of texts. It lasts 2 hours and is worth 40% of the A level. The Paper 2 exam (Written response to works and translation into target language) examines you, in Italian, on “Life is Beautiful” and “Six
Characters in Search of an Author.” It lasts 2 hours 40 minutes and is worth 30% of the A level. The Paper 3 exam (Speaking) is an oral exam that lasts about 20 minutes and is worth 30% of the A level.


Azione Grammatica
By D. Aust, M. Zolb
Published by Hodder Education, ISBN 978-0340915271

Details of the textbooks to be purchased will be specified at the beginning of the lower sixth.

Exam Board and Specification Codes

AS: Pearson-Edexcel 8IN0, A level: Pearson-Edexcel 9IN0  

Ana Abad Jara
Head of Department


Grades achieved at MPW

Progressed to
Royal Veterinary College (Veterinary Medicine)

"I have loved MPW. The class sizes are very small and it is easy to ask questions. The teaching is really interactive and they all care so much about the students. My Director of Studies helped a lot with my UCAS statement, suggesting what to include and perfecting it with me. I honestly don’t think I would have go any university offers without her help."


Grades achieved at MPW

Progressed to
University of Bristol (Law)

"I’ve had three fantastic years at MPW: I’ve had a happy time; I’ve met some amazing people; and, most importantly, I’ve left school knowing that I have fulfilled my potential, leaving with GCSE and A Level grades that I can be proud of. I feel that the teachers and Directors of Studies all care deeply about their students' futures and performance."


Grades achieved at MPW

Progressed to
University of Edinburgh (History and Politics)

"All of my teachers have been great; they are experienced, friendly and treat us all like adults rather than teenagers. I’ve also enjoyed being in a city. There is so much to do and we’ve been on a lot of theatre trips after school which is something I hadn’t been able to do before. My favourite thing about MPW has been the people I have met."


Grades achieved at MPW

Progressed to
King's College London (Biology)

"I would like to say a big thank you to my teachers. Everyone at MPW has been so warm towards me and my teachers are so friendly and willing. They also adapt to learning styles and have been sensitive about responding to my needs; they provide extra help when I need it but also give me space to absorb new topics or information when I need that."


Grades achieved at MPW

Progressed to
University of Bath (Mechanical Engineering)

"One of my favourite things about MPW is the people I have met, who are all really nice and really fun to be with. My Director of Studies was really enthusiastic which rubbed off on me. She also helped enormously with UCAS, taking the time to clearly explain what I needed to do and supporting me."