French AS & A Level
The course is designed to build on the language acquired when studying for GCSE French and continues the development of listening, speaking, reading and writing skills, alongside an understanding of the way in which grammatical structures enhance linguistic independence.
Students study social and technological change alongside highlights of French-speaking artistic culture and also explore the influence of the past on present-day French-speaking communities. They learn the language in the context of French-speaking countries and the issues and influences which have shaped them. Students will study a film and a literary text and will have the opportunity to carry out independent research on a topic of their choice linked to an aspect of Francophone culture.
A minimum of 4 subjects at grade 5 or above at GCSE plus English Language at grade 4 or above. You should also have a grade 6 or above in GCSE French.
What will I study?
- The Changing Nature of the Family: divorce, living together, civil and religious marriage
- Cyber Society: positive and negative aspects of new technologies
- The Place of Voluntary Work: charities and volunteering in France and overseas
- A Culture Proud of its Heritage: tourism, historic monuments and the importance of food
- Contemporary Francophone Music: new and old artists and how they are supported
- Cinema: the 7th art form - history and government support for French cinema
You will also study a French language film, currently Les 400 Coups.
You will build on the topics studied in Year One and study new topics such as:
- Positive Features of a Diverse Society: attitudes to ethnic minorities, the disabled and other distinct groups
- Life for the Marginalised: attitudes to poverty
- How Criminals are Treated: criminal system, including the role of prison
- Teenagers, the Right to Vote and Political Commitment: young people’s and women’s involvement in political life
- Demonstrations, Strikes – who holds the power?: trade unions and industrial and political unrest
- Politics and Immigration: the history of immigration and aspects of racism and integration
You will also study a literary work, currently Bonjour Tristesse, and build on the work of the film from the first year.
The second year of the course also includes an independent research project, on a topic of your choice, related to an aspect of Francophone society or culture.
Method of delivery
The course follows the traditional A Level delivery model of three 90 minute lessons a week, typically including listening and reading practice, group and paired speaking work and practice of grammatical structures.
We use the AQA approved Kerboodle online coursebook, with additional material. Students are provided with a personal login so they can access materials for independent study. In addition there is a weekly short lesson with the French assistant to improve your spoken confidence, fluency, and accuracy.
How will I be assessed?
Assessment is by final examination at the end of each year, including a speaking examination, listening and reading comprehension, translation and essays on the film and/or book.
Paper 1: Listening, reading and writing, worth 45%
Paper 2: Writing and translation, worth 25%
Paper 3: Speaking, worth 30%
Paper 1: Listening, reading, writing and translation, worth 50%
Paper 2: Writing, worth 20%
Paper 3: Speaking, including the Independent Research Project, worth 30%
Good course combinations
Students can combine French successfully with the full range of A Levels; we positively welcome dual or even triple linguists if applicants have studied the relevant GCSEs. The current specification works particularly well with English Language, Film Studies, English Literature, History, Politics and Sociology. The skills needed also feature in A Levels with an emphasis on logic or process such as Maths, Music and the Sciences.
Your next steps
Many students go on to a language related degree course. Learning a language at A Level teaches the skills needed to learn all languages so students sometimes choose to start a new language at university e.g. Mandarin, Arabic, Japanese. There are many universities offering courses including language study, combined with another option.
Recently students have progressed to courses including French and Law at Liverpool, French and Spanish at York and History and German at Cambridge. Students progressing to non-MFL courses have opted for Journalism at the University of Westminster, Maths at Newcastle, Classics at Oxford, and Environmental Science at Sheffield.
Possible careers include teaching, translation, journalism, publishing, and work in the tourism or financial sectors. Knowledge of a minority language can increase a student’s options in the job market and the skills developed on languages courses, including analysis, attention to detail and oral skills are valued in many areas of employment. Some students progress straight into a career and many feel that French A Level builds up the confidence and language skills needed for travelling and periods of work abroad.
“I’m currently studying French and Spanish at Oxford. I really enjoyed both of the A Levels (especially watching the films and going to see plays), and I found that learning all the grammar and vocal for the language and then recognising those structures or words in literature was really fun.”