French A-Level | Surbiton High School
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French A-Level

Examination Board: Edexcel

Taking a modern foreign language at A-level will be an asset for life. If you speak one or more languages, research shows that your brain is already more flexible and efficient at many important tasks than that of someone who only speaks one language. In the current international economic climate, people with languages are increasingly in demand; in fact, there are limitless opportunities open to you if you have language skills. The study of a modern foreign language at A-level will give you an edge in virtually any career, regardless of whether you consider yourself a language specialist or not. All three modern foreign languages aim to offer trips abroad in the Sixth Form and in previous years, students have taken part in cultural trips to Berlin, the French Riviera and Seville. Cultural opportunities are offered outside the classroom and students are encouraged to watch foreign films, visit art exhibitions and attend talks and events at each of the languages’ respective cultural institutes in London.


Paper 1 - Listening, Reading and Translation - 2 hours

Students should be able to understand key points from a variety of complex spoken and written texts, infer meaning, assimilate and use information, and report key points and subject matter. They will also be required to translate accurately from French into English. All spoken and written materials are culturally relevant to France and other countries in which these languages are spoken. Material is drawn from four main themes:

Theme 1: Changes in French society:

  • Changes in the structure of families – shifts in attitudes towards marriage and family life
  • Education – the education system and student-related issues
  • The world of work – attitudes towards work, the right to strike, equality of the sexes
  • Theme 2: Political and artistic culture of the French, German or Spanish speaking world:
  • Music – changes and developments, impact of music on popular culture
  • Media – freedom of expression, written press and the online world
  • Festivals and Traditions – festivals, customs and traditions

Theme 3: Immigration and multicultural French society and related subtopics

Theme 4: Occupation and resistance

Paper 2 - Written Response to Works and Translation - 2 hours 40 minutes

Students will study two works in French, German or Spanish and will be required to write a critical and analytical response to each in the language of study. Responses will relate to features such as the form and technique of presentation, key concepts, issues and the social context. There will be a choice of two questions for each literary text and film. Students should be able to manipulate language accurately through translating an unseen passage from English into French, German or Spanish. The content of the translation will be a passage based on one of the four themes mentioned above.

Paper 3 - Speaking - 21-23 minutes (5 minutes' preparation time)

Students should be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the cultural context by giving ideas, examples and information on one of the themes and on a chosen subject of interest they have researched (IRP – Independent Research Project), linked to the social and cultural context of the language studied. They must demonstrate the ability to analyse aspects of the cultural context by presenting and justifying valid arguments, viewpoints and conclusions, interacting and holding a natural and fluent discourse, manipulating the language accurately and responding to written language in speech. These aspects are assessed via two distinct tasks.