French A level
If you have enjoyed studying French at GCSE, then why not continue to improve your linguistic skills at A-level? The ability to understand and communicate in another language is a lifelong skill for education, employment and leisure purposes. It enables you to discover new cultures and develop your understanding of the world.
In today’s business market employers look favourably upon prospective employees who can offer a foreign language. Even if you are not planning to study languages many universities appreciate the importance of a modern language qualification. They recognise that the skills that you develop are applicable across many disciplines.
Although French combines particularly well with subjects such as English, Spanish and History, previous students on this course have also included a number who were studying mainly science-based subjects but who relished the different challenges of a language course and found it a most enjoyable contrast.
The A-level French course is best suited to students who have achieved at least a grade B in French, at GCSE, and who have a good understanding of grammatical structures. In addition, students need to enjoy communicating in French as well as reading, writing and sharing ideas. The course will enable students to build on all their GCSE skills.
The WJEC syllabus is followed. All students sit the AS papers at the end of the first year, and can be awarded the AS qualification at this point. If they choose to continue the A2 papers are sat at the end of the second year of study, leading to the award of the full A-level.
AS Level (one year) and Year 1 A-level content:
Theme 1 – Being a young person in French-speaking society: Family structures and relationships, Youth trends and issues, Educational and employment opportunities.
Theme 2 – Understanding the French-speaking world: Regional culture and heritage in France and French-speaking. countries, Literature, Art, Film and Music in the French-speaking world.
The AS course also includes the study of a film from a prescribed list.
Year 2 A-level content
Theme 3- Diversity and Difference: Migration and integration, Cultural Identity, Cultural enrichment, Discrimination and diversity.
Theme 4 – France 1940 – 1950. The Occupation and the post-war years: From June 1940 – May 1945, Life in Occupied France and the cultural dimension, 1945- 1950 – rebuilding and restructuring, Repercussions for modern day France.
The A2 course also includes the study of one literary text from a list of prescribed works.
A number of approaches are utilised, including the use of articles, video clips and online material in order to stimulate both written work and oral discussion. Skills for translation into English and into French are also practised. Grammar continues to be taught and consolidated.
AS (after 1 year of study)
Unit 1 – Speaking (30% of AS qualification, 12% of A2 qualification)
Two discussion tasks based on written stimulus cards.
Unit 2 – Listening, reading, translation and written critical response (70% of AS qualification, 28% of A2 qualification). A number of listening and reading questions covering topics from the two AS themes, a translation from French into English and an essay on the chosen film.
A2 (after 2 years of study). The above, plus a further 3 units.
Unit 3 – Speaking ( 18% of A2 qualification)
Presentation (2 minutes) and discussion of independent research project.
Unit 4 – Listening, reading and translation (30% of A2 qualification)
A number of listening and reading questions covering topics from the two A2 themes and a translation from English into French.
Unit 5 – Critical and analytical response in writing (12% of A2 qualification)
One essay question based on the chosen literary work.
N.B. Speaking assessments are conducted by an external examiner in April or early May.
Where does it lead?
Students who wish to study languages at university have a wide variety of options such as BA Honours, (either Single or Joint with another language) or the possibility of combining French with, for example, Art studies, Business, Marketing, Law, International Politics, Technology, Philosophy, Linguistics or Media. At some universities you may choose a French module alongside your major subject, both at undergraduate and at Masters’ level.
Most French language degrees offer the opportunity to spend a year in a French-speaking country and many other university courses offer the opportunity to study at an Erasmus partner university in Europe or do a work-placement abroad.
Careers linked to French have included: Translating and Interpreting, Teaching, Tourism, Civil Service, Marketing, Journalism, Industry and Finance and Banking to name but a few.
A good-sized dictionary is recommended, and some of these, for example Larousse, are now also available as a downloadable app for smartphone or tablet.
Students are encouraged to access French media online to increase their knowledge of the country.
Many other resources are also available on-line, including video clips, interviews and vocabulary practice.