A Level French
What do you most enjoy teaching?
Mrs Bowen: Culture! In other words all aspects of life in France and French speaking countries from music to literature, gastronomy to festivals, politics to religion, sport to history. We also hope to give you the opportunity to go on a school trip to France where you can see, taste and smell the real thing.
Mrs Sayers: Culture and History, including the Grammar. Studying films in France and French speaking countries is always an added bonus.
Mr Roberts: I am The Grammar Geek!! I love teaching grammar, which seems bizarre to say as French grammar is so complex. Exploring different grammar points throughout A Level and confusing you with irregulars is my favourite hobby!
What are the differences between French at GCSE and A Level?
There are some new topics and some familiar ones. Grammar goes from the very basics to degree level. The A level exam has 3 papers, an oral, a reading writing and listening paper and a literary essay paper. In the reading listening and writing exam you have control of the listening so you can play the recording as many times as you like. The literature paper is based on a film, ‘Les Choristes’ and a book called ‘No et Moi’. You have a lesson a week on top of your teacher lessons with our language assistant to practise speaking.
Can you give us a quick summary of each of the units of work you do?
Mrs Bowen: For A level you need to know about life and culture in France and French speaking countries. My Year 12 students have just been finding out about World Heritage sites in France and were amazed how diverse they were from volcanic formations in the Pacific to vineyards in Burgundy. We also look into Media in France and the importance of cinema for French people. We also look at the French education system which is very different from our own.
Mr Roberts: In my lessons, we will look at the lives of young people in France and explore different trends, fashion and how young peoples’ behaviours are influenced and by whom. After that, we further delve into the topic of technology and develop what we learnt at GCSE. We look at how technology has changed over recent years and how this has changed daily life in France. And finally, we explore employment in France, concentrating on young people, unemployment figures, reasons for this and difficulties in the job market.
Mrs Sayers: I start the course with teaching all of the tenses and Grammar that is necessary for Year 12. I also introduce the topic of the changing role of the family in French society. We also study the role of the young person in society particularly in terms of voluntary work. We start to examine the film “Les Choristes” and look at characterisation and themes.
I’m sure your subject will suit lots of different ‘types’ of student, but are there any characteristics that you think can be useful?
We like resilient people who aren’t afraid to make mistakes and learn from them. We like brave people who are willing to speak their minds, to open themselves up to new experiences.
Do you have examples of what previous students have gone on to do in your subject?
Fran studied French and German at Highfields, eventually going to St Andrews to study French, German and Russian. On graduation she became interested in Spanish and took herself off to Columbia to learn the language. Apart from languages Fran’s other passion was motorsport. She now uses her languages to interview riders and team bosses in World Superbike for the official World SBK website and lives in Spain.
Comments from some current students:
What is it like to study French at A Level?
It was a hard decision to pick French as one of my A Levels as I know it can sometimes be challenging however it soon became a very enjoyable A Level subject, being both fascinating and rewarding and I am so glad I chose to take the subject further as it has so much to it. The topics become more interesting and there are lots of things to talk about such as issues in France and the rest of the French speaking world. Currently we are learning about the migrant crisis in France which is fascinating to learn about the struggles of the migrants fleeing a war torn country. The Independent Research Project is also very interesting to do as French coursework as it’s a topic of your choice and something you want to learn more about. On top of all this you couldn’t ask for more supportive teachers in this department, they have helped me so much and the amount I have learnt from starting this A Level subject is unbelievable and I am so thankful to all of them for it.
Some links to click on:
This link leads to the WJEC page with the specification, past papers and an overview of the qualification.