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A-Level

French

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French is a widely taught language and is spoken in 29 countries by over 300 million people in the world.

Exam Board

AQA

Entry Requirements

GCSE grade 6 in French.

Assessment

  • 100% Exams
About this course FAQs An introduction to French Pathways Information

What is French?

French is the official language in 32 states and countries. It is spoken by over 300 million people in the world, and 56% of all French speakers live in Africa. It is the second most widely taught foreign language after English, the second most common language used in diplomacy, and the third most commonly-used language in business. (Source: Diplomatie.gouv.fr)

 

What will I study?

Building on the knowledge, understanding and skills gained at GCSE, you will learn an interesting spectrum of social, intellectual, historical, political and cultural topics throughout the course. You will study a film and a piece of literature, and you will undertake a research piece into an area of personal interest in France or another French-speaking country to further develop your cultural awareness. You will do almost all of this study in French, so your language will come on in leaps and bounds. In the second year, you will have weekly one-to-one sessions with a foreign language assistant, working on your speaking skills.

 

Assessments

You will take three final exams:

50%       Paper 1 (listening, reading, writing, summarising, translation)
20%       Paper 2 (analysing the film and the book)

30%       Paper 3 (speaking, including about your research project)

We help you to prepare for these assessments by giving you lots of opportunities to practise all of the skills you’ll need, and giving you high-quality feedback, tips and advice.

 

Trips, visits and enrichments:

  • French-speaking club
  • Foreign film club
  • Opportunities to enter national French competitions run by a range of UK universities
  • Dedicated preparation sessions for those applying for French at Oxford or Cambridge
  • Opportunity to work on teaching skills for MFL, working with a local primary school
  • Opportunity to take part in a trip to France
  • Workshops and stretch-and-challenge sessions, such as by a professional translator
  • Guest speakers related to employability skills with MFL
  • Guest speakers as part of the Aspire programme

 

What can it lead to?

The subject content is suitable for students who wish to progress to employment or further study,

including a modern languages degree. Students who go on to study language at university may move onto many different careers. Being fluent in a second language is highly respected in the business world. Not all of our students choose to study a modern language at university, but many do, whether this is for their main degree, as part of another degree, or just for enjoyment. Whatever degree or route you choose to take, your French A-Level will set you up well, by providing you with lots of the employability and study skills that will help you be successful at university and in the workplace.

FAQs

I’m a native speaker of French. Should I still study this subject?
If you want to, yes! Almost every year we get native speakers in the class, and we have taught students from a range of countries. We know that native speakers have different needs to those taking French post-GCSE, and we are very used to helping everyone make progress from their own individual starting point. Even as a native speaker, you won’t already know everything we learn about, such as politics, history, literature and social issues, and our native speakers usually say they find this a very interesting and fulfilling course.
I’m not a native speaker, but there might be native speakers in my class. Should I panic?
Absolutely not! The French teaching team is made up of a native speaker and a non-native speaker, and we have both studied more than one language from scratch to a high level, so we know exactly how it feels to be a learner in a language. Rather than see the presence of native speakers in your class as something to worry you, or someone to compare yourself to, see them as a fantastic resource, and someone to learn from. There will also be things that you might be better than them at! We work hard to make our MFL classrooms a community where we ALL learn from each other, regardless of our starting points.
What exam board will I study?
We do AQA. We chose this board because we really like some of the materials produced for AQA, and we like the style of the speaking exam.
How much work will I do?
Just like all of the A-Levels here at King Ed’s, you will have just over 4.5 hours of lessons a week, and you will do around five hours a week of independent study. Some of this will be homework, set by your teacher, and some of this will be activities that you find for yourself, to support your own learning. In the second year, you will also have fifteen minutes a week one-to-one with our foreign language assistant.
Is there any coursework?
No. This course is assessed through exams. For part of your speaking exam, you will talk about a research project you’ve carried out, which feels a bit like doing a piece of coursework, but you don’t hand in any written work for it – it is assessed in the speaking exam.
What are the main differences between GCSE and A-Level MFL?
The A-Level is designed to follow on from GCSE, and the grammar and some topics allow for a smooth transition. You are more mature by the time you get to A-Level, and your language is much more sophisticated, so after you’ve made the transition to A-Level, we can do some really important topics, such as diversity in twenty-first-century French-speaking countries, crime and punishment, protests, immigration, the changing role of the family unit in society, and French cultural heritage. You will learn a lot in French A-Level that will set you up to be a well-informed, politically engaged citizen. In terms of exam skills, many are carried over from GCSE, such as listening, reading, writing and translation. We also add in researching and summarising longer texts, which will help you when you go to uni or get a job.
I love literature. Can I do more than the set film and book?
Yes, absolutely! Every year we have students who choose to do their research project on another film or book, or a play or poetry. The film and book paper (Paper 2) is 20% of your final assessment. If you do your research project on literature or a film too, you can make almost 40% of your A-Level assessment be about films and/or literature.
I’m not that into literature. Will I struggle?
Everyone has to do two literary texts (we do one film and one book). This is 20% of your final assessment. However, we know that not everyone loves literature or film studies, so we help you will the analysis as much as we can. You can get a respectable grade in this paper with analysis not that much deeper than what you are likely to have done in GCSE English Literature, so if you’re joining us with a GCSE in English, and are prepared to watch the film, read the book, and do the activities your teacher asks of you, you have all the skills and tools you’ll need for the French A-Level film and book analysis.
What support will there be for me if I find French difficult?
The MFL department is a very supportive group of experienced teachers. We know that studying a language to A-Level is challenging, so we are used to providing a high level of individual and small-group support. We also work hard to create a community of language students you can turn to if you are struggling, and they may turn to you for other aspects of the course.
What if I am not that confident in my French grammar?
We know that King Ed’s students come from a range of schools where grammar will have been approached in many different ways. Some people might feel really confident in their grammar, but others may not do when they join us in September of Year 12. We teach all of the grammar from scratch to make sure that even those who come feeling confident don’t have any niggling misconceptions. We like to know we are building your language on a strong foundation.
Do you teach in English or French?
We know that hearing and speaking as much French as possible will benefit you, so over the course, we build up to teaching mostly in French. We don’t teach solely in French though, because we know that some things are better taught in English – tricky grammar points, or difficult bits of literature analysis, for example. We also aim to not overwhelm you with too much target language when you first join us. We try to balance it carefully, and help you to improve your speaking and listening, but also to make sure you feel supported in lessons.
Where is the trip to?
We are in the process of changing our trip. We are planning a trip to Normandy, which will allow us to consider France’s role in the Second World War, as well as to visit lots of cultural sites and beauty spots.
What are your average class sizes?
We have a maximum class size of 22, but our classes are usually around 16-20. We find that this is a big enough group to all for some great group work, and so you can work with and learn from your peers, but not so big that you don’t feel seen by your teacher.
I’m thinking of studying both French and Spanish. Is this likely to confuse me?
Nearly all of the teachers in our department were dual linguists at school and university, so we know why you might have this worry. There are times when French and Spanish differ and it can be annoying or confusing. However, as they are both Latin languages, they help dual linguists much more than they confuse them. The exam skills are also very similar in both A-Levels, so you’ll find this gives you an advantage in some things. It does mean you’ll have two research projects to do in the second year, but it’s only like taking two subjects with a coursework element – that in itself shouldn’t be something to put you off, and we will help you manage your workload.
What employable skills will I be able to learn?
Being able to speak and write in fluent French is an extremely useful employable skill in itself. You will also be able to work on your organisation, time-management, self-direction, and communication skills. You will be able to improve your research and presentation skills, and you will be able to understand complex texts you read and listen to, as well as spotting the main points in these, and being able to translate them.
What jobs and courses have French A-Level students gone on to in the past?
After studying for a French A-Level, students have gone on to a wide range of jobs and courses, including teaching, sales, medicine, nursing and midwifery, speech and language therapy, law, banking, the travel industry, procurement, the media, academia – we have even taught someone who went on to work as a Disney princess at Disneyland Paris. Basically, anything that involves you applying yourself and working well with others is possible after an A-Level in French.

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