A Level French

Key Information

Examination Board Cambridge International Examinations
Syllabus Code 8682 (AS) 9716 (A2)
Entry Requirements IGCSE Grade B in French

Introduction

French is an international language, spoken officially and understood, not only in France, but also in 33 other countries in all five continents.  This number is second only to English, which is spoken officially in 45 countries.  It is an official language in 29 countries and one of 3 official languages in Seychelles, therefore, it is a great asset if one is able to understand, speak, read and write it. It is of the utmost importance to employers and to anyone who enjoys travel. Throughout the course, students are taught to understand the spoken and written forms of French from a variety of sources, such as magazines, newspapers, official documents and imaginative writing.  Students learn to communicate confidently and clearly and to understand the spoken language in a range of contexts such as radio news items, broadcast short stories, announcements, studio discussions and recorded talks. Students are taught to exchange views and opinions in French and to sustain a conversation.

Students learn to acquire a sound base of the skills of listening, speaking and writing and in so doing, they are able to manipulate French accurately and in ways which show a capacity to choose appropriate examples of lexis and forms of expression.

Students develop insights into the culture of countries where French is spoken and they acquire an understanding of native and non-native speakers of French, when in conversation, when interviewed and when reacting to argument and debate.

All students have access to a textbook and a dictionary, which can be used in class for individual study purposes.  However, it is advisable for students to purchase a dictionary for homework purposes.

Course Content

In Years 12 and 13, students work through Pyramide AS and Pyramide A2, recently published books for Advanced level French. These books are made up of 12 units, all of which are of a contemporary nature and lead to stimulating and interesting debates and discussions about life in general, especially that of the youth.

This course is primarily communicative in its philosophy but it does not neglect the structured building blocks of language that require specific attention. Throughout the course, the exercises and activities gradually move the student from highly structured to open-ended, more creative or practical tasks. Students are encouraged to produce interpretative and evaluative responses as well as purely factual ones.

The course also provides CDs which contain a variety of listening material, including off-air recordings and songs.  There is a number of open-ended activities for each item, which give a focus for the listening and which stimulate individual reflection.

Students also work through various past examination papers for exam practice.  There is also a vast selection of articles (downloaded from the Internet) which deal with current issues and which are of interest to the students.

Assessment

At the end of the AS course, students may choose to take an examination, which comprises three components:

Component 1: Speaking (30%)                          20mins           100 marks
Component 2: Reading & Writing (50%)        1hr 45                70 marks
Component 3: Essay Writing (20%)                 1hr 30               40 marks

Component 1 is conducted and marked internally by the teacher. Each test is recorded on CD and sent to Cambridge to be moderated. In the other components, the work is externally assessed.

Students are not obliged to take the AS Examinations as the grade that they achieve cannot be carried forward when they then sit the A2 Examinations.  This is a CIE regulation.  Those who choose to take the AS Examinations are aware that it is only for exam practice.

Components 1, 2, 3 are common to the A2 programme.  However, they are weighted differently.

Component 1: Speaking                   (20%)         20 mins                   100 marks

Component 2: Reading & Writing (35%)     1h 45 mins                     70 marks

Component 3: Essay                         (15%)    1 h 30 mins                    40 marks

In addition, there is Component 4, for which students have to study four books (from a selection of eight books). The eight books are set by Cambridge. The choice of texts changes every two years.

Component 4: Texts (30%)                            2h 30 m                          75 marks.

In the exam: Candidates are expected to answer 3 questions in the target language on 3 different texts (3 x 25 marks). They have to write 500-600 words for each of their questions.

Careers and Progression

French is the official language of many international organisations, including the United Nations, the European Union, NATO, WTO and the ICRC.  It is one of the working languages of many other international institutions.  Languages can be used for Teaching, Translation/Interpretation, Editing/Proofreading, Travel and Tourism, Hospitality, Foreign Service, International Organisations and other International careers.  Obviously, this list is not exhaustive; it is just to give you an idea of what kind of jobs your language skills might qualify you for and to help you find a starting place for your own research.

For more information, contact Ms Tirant