Exam Board: AQA

Entry Requirements: Grade 6 in French

What will you learn?

You will progress beyond the fundamentals of GCSE to learn how to express yourself fluently in spoken and written French, making use of the highest levels of vocabulary and grammar.

You will study the following:

  • Social issues and trends – the changing nature of family, technology, voluntary work, positive features of a diverse society, life for the marginalised, criminal justice systems
  • Political and artistic culture – heritage and culture, contemporary music, cinema, the right to vote and political commitment, demonstrations and strikes, politics and immigration
  • A literary text and a film

What does the assessment look like?

Paper 1: Listening, reading and writing – 2 hours 30 minutes – 50% of A-level

  • Listening and responding to spoken passages from a range of contexts and sources. Studio recordings will be used and you will have individual control of the recording.
  • Reading and responding to a variety of texts written for different purposes, drawn from a range of authentic sources.
  • Material will include complex factual and abstract content and questions will target main points, gist and detail. All questions are in French, to be answered with non-verbal responses or in French.
  • Translation into English; a passage of minimum 100 words.
  • Translation into French; a passage of minimum 100 words.

Paper 2: Writing – 2 hours – 20% of A-level

You will answer an essay question in French for one work of literature and one film you have studied. You will have a choice of question on each book/film. All questions will be in French and will require a critical and analytical response.

Paper 3: Speaking – 21-23 minutes (including 5 minutes preparation time) – 30% of A-level

Discussion of a topic from the specification, based on a stimulus card (5-6 minutes). You will study the card for 5 minutes at the start of the test.

Presentation (2 minutes) and discussion (9-10 minutes) of individual research project on an aspect of francophone society.

Choose this subject if you...

  • Dream of speaking French fluently and impressively, perhaps with the intention of working abroad
  • Wish to gain in-depth knowledge of France and French-speaking countries
  • Want to get a broad perspective on a wide range of issues and topics
  • Enjoy learning about other cultures and languages
  • Have an interest in literature and the arts

What can an A-level in this subject lead to?

You may choose to go on to study a language further at university. This is sought after in a variety of career sectors including finance, retail, banking, business, law, teaching and tourism.

Companies in any field value employees with language skills as the UK trades with over 200 countries worldwide, 60% of which are non-English-speaking. English may be the language of international business, but the ability to communicate in another language and to be aware of cultural differences is a tremendous asset.

Your experience of travel and other cultures will benefit you personally as well as being attractive to future employers.

Even if you do not choose to study a language in Higher Education, learning a language at A-level can develop a number of more general skills. Among these are communication skills, cultural knowledge and links with other subject areas. Foreign language study has been found to be associated with improvements in students’ creativity, self-concept, critical thinking abilities, memory and listening skills. Mental flexibility is enhanced by the reasoning, problem-solving and analytical processes that are frequently used in learning a language.

Recommended reading:

French novels:

  • Les Malheurs de Sophie by La Comtesse de Ségur
  • Le Petit Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
  • Le Petit Nicolas by René Goscinny & Jean-Jacques Sempé

You could also read bilingual parallel texts or watch French/English films with French subtitles.