Studying French at A-level is both highly challenging and highly rewarding. During the course you will rapidly develop your linguistic skills as well as your cultural understanding of France and the French-speaking world. You will learn to think independently and express yourself in increasingly sophisticated ways. You will improve your range of vocabulary, registers and tenses as you work towards complete fluency in the language. A-level French will encourage you to develop your interpersonal and critical capabilities, which you will then be able to apply to a wide range of personal, academic, and professional situations.
In the first year of A-level French, you will study French-speaking society and artistic culture in the French-speaking world. This includes modules on technology in society, French music and French cinema. You will discuss musicians such as MC Solaar, David Guetta, and Kyo, as well as French actors and directors, like Juliette Binoche and Mathieu Kassovitz. You will also conduct an in-depth study of a French film. In the second year, you will study society and political life in the French-speaking world, followed by an in-depth study of a French novel or play. You will be examined across three papers at the end of the Upper Sixth.
Studying French to A-level entails developing good (almost fluent) spoken French and also involves enhancing your grasp of written structures, grammar and vocabulary. The language is studied via important cultural, social, political, historical and economic topics of contemporary interest. Authentic materials (newspapers, magazines, books, audio and video recordings) are widely used. Each Sixth Former has a dedicated speaking lesson with the French Assistant every week to increase both confidence with and fluency in the language. You will also need to keep abreast with current affairs and will be expected to read around the subject in addition to the set prep time of five hours per week.
A-level French focuses particularly on honing the productive skills of spoken and written language. This entails the extension of writing techniques (including translation into French and English), structuring thoughts and ideas in essays and the ability to debate. The course also has an element of independent study where pupils complete an individual research project on a topic of their choice, which will be discussed in the oral exam.
Modern Languages graduates are in great demand and are highly sought-after by employers. Those who have studied a language successfully to A-level develop excellent social and communication skills, which are an asset in any career. However, the jump from GCSE to A-level French is larger than you may expect, as the range of registers, syntax and grammar is greater than at GCSE.
Mr J M Norbury, Head of Modern Languages