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 French A level will introduce you to French society, history and culture. You will read the French press, listen to the French news and watch French films so as to develop your knowledge not just of the language, but of the countries where it is spoken.
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?
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 50% of the A level. Unit 2 lasts 2 hours and is worth 20% of the A level. Unit 3 lasts 21-23 minutes and is worth 30% of the A level.
French Grammar for A level
By P. Turk, G. Garcia Vandale
Published by Hodder Education, ISBN 978-0340968529
AQA A Level Year 1 and AS French Student Book
By R. Pike, C. Povey, P. Shannon
Published by OUP, ISBN 978-0198366881
Exam Board and Specification Codes
A level: AQA 7652
Ana Abad Jara
Head of Department
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