A Level French or German

An A-Level in a modern foreign language is an exciting mix of topics and skills which will develop students in many areas of studies.  If you choose German or French at Post 16 you will cover the necessary language skills, cultural studies, history, politics, film, art, literature, current affairs and modern society.  You will develop skills of debating, presenting, essay writing, group discussions, translation, precis writing and critical analysis of literature and film.

Choosing to study a language at A-Level will open up a world of career opportunities and course options at University.  Languages is a popular subject for many students choosing to study one or two modern languages as their main degree subject or opting to incorporate languages into a degree in business, politics or a humanities subject.  This allows students to take their passion abroad as part of a study abroad programme or an exchange.  Languages will always be a highly sought after skill and students with language experience are highly employable.

“The limits of my language are the limits of my world.”
Ludwig Wittgenstein

Course description

The A-Level course comprises four topics

  1. Social issues and trends- in this module students look at the changing nature of family life, new forms of family, views on marriage, sexual orientation and relationships.  Students will also study new uses of media and digital technology including social networks and cyber-bullying.  In the second year of the course students will look at youth of today, societal changes, popular movements and religious views.
  2. Political and artistic culture- in this module students look at influencers, musicians, artists and architects from the target language countries.  Students are also given a comprehensive introduction to politics, history and government in these countries.  In second year students analyse the problems around racism, integration and immigration.
  3. Grammar- building on what has been studied at GCSE, students will learn a much wider base of vocabulary, tenses such as pluperfect, future perfect, use of the passive voice and the subjunctive mood, direct and indirect speech.
  4. Works: Literary texts and films.  AQA provide a set list of books, plays and films and students are required to study one book or play and one film.  This is by the far the most interesting part of the course as students will learn more about one particular author, playwright or director, what may have influenced them to write these texts and also then analyse and evaluate the literary, theatrical or cinematic devices used.  This part of the course is the most different to the GCSE and will feel more like a combination of a history lesson, a literature lesson and media lesson all rolled into one.  This is one reason why the course will set students up well to go on to study languages or any other similar subject at University as it most closely resembles the university style learning.

What skills do I need to be successful?

You will need to be organised and complete all work thoroughly and to the best of your ability. You should be prepared to participate fully in active and engaging lessons.  You will be expected to read materials in German/French/Spanish using a dictionary to compile vocabulary lists, speak and write in detail, learn vocabulary regularly and complete listening tasks in school and at home. The course will develop your problem solving skills and ability to communicate clearly including expressing opinions, using different tenses and writing structured essays.  You will also develop critical thinking skills when studying works and develop your argument using examples from the book or film.  You will also learn to be accurate when translating by thinking more about nuance and style.  And finally precis writing, the skill of summarising a foreign language text in the same foreign language.  This is often used in the professional world for report writing and is a new skill at A-Level.

What will I need to do outside of the lessons?

Regular homework will be given and you will need to revise and study independently.  Homework may or may not be written and could include translation and grammar practice, working on extended pieces of writing, practising role-plays, revising tense formation or learning vocabulary.  Extra reading materials are available in school, and are easily accessible on the internet.  There are TV programmes/ interactive resources which can help with revision, or can be used to develop listening skills.

What equipment will I need to provide?

You will need access to a detailed dictionary, either online or a hard copy.  We would suggest that you buy additional grammar workbooks for independent study above and beyond what you are given in school.  Vocab learning is crucial so developing an organised vocabulary book is also essential.  You will receive a large amount of handouts so please keep these in a lever arch folder.  Do not throw anything away but rather keep it in your lever arch in an organised way.

French

Students will develop their knowledge and understanding of themes relating to the culture and society of countries where French is spoken, and their language skills. They will do this by using authentic spoken and written sources in French. The choice of works (literary texts and films) offers opportunities to link with the themes so that for example Life for the marginalised could be studied in conjunction with the book No et moi whilst aspects of Politics and immigration are reflected in the book Kiffe kiffe demain and in the films La Haine and Entre les murs. In addition, students following this specification will develop research skills in French, demonstrating the ability to initiate and conduct individual research on a subject of personal interest, relating to the country or countries where French is spoken.  They will learn to identify a key question or subject of interest and select relevant information in French from a range of authentic sources, including the internet and use information to illustrate knowledge and understanding of the research subject.

German

The approach is a focus on how German-speaking society has been shaped socially and culturally and how it continues to change. In the first year, aspects of the social context are studied, together with aspects of the artistic life of German-speaking countries. In the second year, further aspects of the social background are covered, alongside the German political landscape, both in relation to Germany itself and its place in Europe. The past and its role in shaping the present is viewed through the reunification and its consequences while the focus on young people and politics looks forward to shaping the future of German-speaking countries. Students will develop their knowledge and understanding of themes relating to the culture and society of countries where German is spoken, and their language skills. They will do this by using authentic spoken and written sources in German. The choice of works (literary texts and films) offers opportunities to link with the themes so that for example aspects of Die Wiedervereinigung are relevant to the film Das Leben der Anderen and aspects of Multiculturalism in German-speaking society are reflected in the novel Das Fundbüro by Siegfried Lenz.

Exam board

  • AQA A Level French (7652)
  • AQA A Level German (7662)

Past papers

Assessments

Students are assessed at the end of a two year course.  They will sit one spoken exam lasting 21-23 mins (incl. 5 mins preparation time) which is worth 30% of the result.  The majority of the speaking test will be based on a topic of the student’s choosing.  During the two years of the course students may prepare for their speaking test by carrying out their independent research project (known as the IRP) so that they will be fully prepared for this speaking test.  The rest of the test will be a discussion of a stimulus card.

Students will also sit two written papers.  Paper 1 covers listening, reading and writing (translation and summary), lasting 2 hours 30 mins and is worth 50% of the result.  Paper 2 covers the literary and film works, lasting 2 hours and is worth 20% of the result.  In Paper 2 students are required to answer two essay questions in the target language.

Entry Requirements

As well as the general entry requirements to Sixth Form, students will need at least a Grade 6 in their French or German GCSE.

Useful websites

  • www.linguascope.com/
  • www.whystudylanguages.ac.uk/
  • www.memrise.com/
  • quizlet.com/en-gb
  • www.thisislanguage.com/
  • www.bbc.com/bitesize/subjects/z9dqxnb
  • www.bbc.com/bitesize/subjects/z8j2tfr
  • www.bbc.com/bitesize/subjects/z4dqxnb
  • www.duolingo.com/