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A-level French; what to expect?

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    In September, I'm going to be studying A-level French and I'm just wondering what I should expect. I know there is a big jump from GCSE to A-level and I'm wondering whether there is any way of preparing over summer. I've bought a French film and I've been watching that to try and improve my listening. I'm also predicted an 'A' at GCSE and I'm wondering how I'll find it.
    Any advice is welcome.
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    On doit s'attendre à l'inattendu....
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    (Original post by Deziah)
    In September, I'm going to be studying A-level French and I'm just wondering what I should expect. I know there is a big jump from GCSE to A-level and I'm wondering whether there is any way of preparing over summer. I've bought a French film and I've been watching that to try and improve my listening. I'm also predicted an 'A' at GCSE and I'm wondering how I'll find it.
    Any advice is welcome.
    Hey there!

    I've just finished my AS year french and I am definitely carrying it on at A2. Personally, I find it fairly enjoyable and is one of my more relaxed subjects (the others I take are chemistry and biology) which is why I'm not dropping it.

    The big GCSE-to-A-Level transition is seemingly less significant for french than for other subjects (for me anyway). This is mainly due to the fact that in french what you mainly do is build up what you have touched on at GCSE. for instance, you must have come across le subjonctif at GCSE, correct? Maybe you have read it or heard it somewhere. (Don't worry if you haven't - you will develop it next year). Well at A-Level you are expected to use this at length, (unlike at GCSE where all you had to do was recognise it in a reading extract) as well as use other tenses such as le passé composé, le futur simple, and other things you have probably heard about, as well as a few new tenses.

    Simply said, for grammar at AS, if you don't use a RANGE of tenses in your essays, you will get low marks, whereas at GCSE you could easily get an A* by showing a small range of simple present, past and future tenses. This is one of the major differences.

    Another major difference is vocab (oh deary me). Trust me when I say you will HAVE to guess and improvise the meanings of at least half the vocab you come across in your exam. For your reading and writing exam at the end of the year, you will be given an article leaflet with what may seem like Greek. But don't panic. What I recommend is this: throughout the year keep a little notepad and note down EVERY word and definition that you don't know, which you have either heard your teacher saying, come across while reading your textbook, anything. Just make sure it is with you at all times. Even while watching that movie you have, note down words you don't recognise and look them up. My class and I had this and it really helped. This will not only help with your end-of-the-year essays, but also your oral test. While they prefer a more natural-flowing conversation, they also heavily praise sophistication. Before you go to bed your five-minute task will be to quick-read through this sacred notepad of yours. By the end of the year, you will not regret it!

    Hmmm... What else? Oh, another recommendation would be to buy a grammar tense book. You can find these in WHSmith. They really will help you throughout the year, so that you don't get your tenses wrong.

    So, sorry this turned out to be so long! Last-minute recommendations: don't just watch that one film! Fill your DVD collection with the french classics: La Haine, Coco before Chanel, The Chorus, Ma Vie en Rose. What you could also do is read french articles online as they will often give you articles to look at during the year. Optional would be an english-french dictionary. In hindsight I wish I had bought one.

    Bonne chance!!
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    Lots of snails perhaps? Haha i don't know.. Although i have a friend who's doing it and they mentioned something about lists of verbs and stuff.. She said if you memorise them and keep on top of things, you should be fine. Err.. I doubt that helped but still...
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    (Original post by BarBaBaBaBarBaBaBa)
    Hey there!

    I've just finished my AS year french and I am definitely carrying it on at A2. Personally, I find it fairly enjoyable and is one of my more relaxed subjects (the others I take are chemistry and biology) which is why I'm not dropping it.

    The big GCSE-to-A-Level transition is seemingly less significant for french than for other subjects (for me anyway). This is mainly due to the fact that in french what you mainly do is build up what you have touched on at GCSE. for instance, you must have come across le subjonctif at GCSE, correct? Maybe you have read it or heard it somewhere. (Don't worry if you haven't - you will develop it next year). Well at A-Level you are expected to use this at length, (unlike at GCSE where all you had to do was recognise it in a reading extract) as well as use other tenses such as le passé composé, le futur simple, and other things you have probably heard about, as well as a few new tenses.

    Simply said, for grammar at AS, if you don't use a RANGE of tenses in your essays, you will get low marks, whereas at GCSE you could easily get an A* by showing a small range of simple present, past and future tenses. This is one of the major differences.

    Another major difference is vocab (oh deary me). Trust me when I say you will HAVE to guess and improvise the meanings of at least half the vocab you come across in your exam. For your reading and writing exam at the end of the year, you will be given an article leaflet with what may seem like Greek. But don't panic. What I recommend is this: throughout the year keep a little notepad and note down EVERY word and definition that you don't know, which you have either heard your teacher saying, come across while reading your textbook, anything. Just make sure it is with you at all times. Even while watching that movie you have, note down words you don't recognise and look them up. My class and I had this and it really helped. This will not only help with your end-of-the-year essays, but also your oral test. While they prefer a more natural-flowing conversation, they also heavily praise sophistication. Before you go to bed your five-minute task will be to quick-read through this sacred notepad of yours. By the end of the year, you will not regret it!

    Hmmm... What else? Oh, another recommendation would be to buy a grammar tense book. You can find these in WHSmith. They really will help you throughout the year, so that you don't get your tenses wrong.

    So, sorry this turned out to be so long! Last-minute recommendations: don't just watch that one film! Fill your DVD collection with the french classics: La Haine, Coco before Chanel, The Chorus, Ma Vie en Rose. What you could also do is read french articles online as they will often give you articles to look at during the year. Optional would be an english-french dictionary. In hindsight I wish I had bought one.

    Bonne chance!!
    You sir, are a genius
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    (Original post by lil-mazie)
    You sir, are a genius
    Why thank you
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    i heard theres a lot of reading involved and i want to do it next year to, lucky for me i have a friend fluent in french but struggles to write it so were going to do it together and help each other out but i dont really read many english books, and apparently in second year you learn politics and i dont care about that stuff even in english
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    (Original post by BarBaBaBaBarBaBaBa)
    Hey there!

    I've just finished my AS year french and I am definitely carrying it on at A2. Personally, I find it fairly enjoyable and is one of my more relaxed subjects (the others I take are chemistry and biology) which is why I'm not dropping it.

    The big GCSE-to-A-Level transition is seemingly less significant for french than for other subjects (for me anyway). This is mainly due to the fact that in french what you mainly do is build up what you have touched on at GCSE. for instance, you must have come across le subjonctif at GCSE, correct? Maybe you have read it or heard it somewhere. (Don't worry if you haven't - you will develop it next year). Well at A-Level you are expected to use this at length, (unlike at GCSE where all you had to do was recognise it in a reading extract) as well as use other tenses such as le passé composé, le futur simple, and other things you have probably heard about, as well as a few new tenses.

    Simply said, for grammar at AS, if you don't use a RANGE of tenses in your essays, you will get low marks, whereas at GCSE you could easily get an A* by showing a small range of simple present, past and future tenses. This is one of the major differences.

    Another major difference is vocab (oh deary me). Trust me when I say you will HAVE to guess and improvise the meanings of at least half the vocab you come across in your exam. For your reading and writing exam at the end of the year, you will be given an article leaflet with what may seem like Greek. But don't panic. What I recommend is this: throughout the year keep a little notepad and note down EVERY word and definition that you don't know, which you have either heard your teacher saying, come across while reading your textbook, anything. Just make sure it is with you at all times. Even while watching that movie you have, note down words you don't recognise and look them up. My class and I had this and it really helped. This will not only help with your end-of-the-year essays, but also your oral test. While they prefer a more natural-flowing conversation, they also heavily praise sophistication. Before you go to bed your five-minute task will be to quick-read through this sacred notepad of yours. By the end of the year, you will not regret it!

    Hmmm... What else? Oh, another recommendation would be to buy a grammar tense book. You can find these in WHSmith. They really will help you throughout the year, so that you don't get your tenses wrong.

    So, sorry this turned out to be so long! Last-minute recommendations: don't just watch that one film! Fill your DVD collection with the french classics: La Haine, Coco before Chanel, The Chorus, Ma Vie en Rose. What you could also do is read french articles online as they will often give you articles to look at during the year. Optional would be an english-french dictionary. In hindsight I wish I had bought one.

    Bonne chance!!
    Oh wow, thanks for such a detailed reply.
    I'm wondering what kind of tenses should I expect? I already know, past, present, future and conditional fairly well. I can't really remember the other tenses I used, haha.
    I'll get a notepad especially for vocabulary then. I've already got an advanced English to French dictionary as well. Oh, and I'll start getting some more of the DVDs you mentioned.
    Thanks for the help, it's helped a lot.
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    it's ****ting hard. I foolishly assumed it was the same level of difficulty as GCSE and therefore failed to attend more than maybe 1/3 of the lessons, any of the oral lessons or the mock. imagine my shock and disgust when i arrived at the exam to find out they expected me to actually write French.
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    (Original post by BarBaBaBaBarBaBaBa)
    x
    Which exam board are you with? Is there any study of Literature in either AS or A2? Thanks.
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    (Original post by Deziah)
    Oh wow, thanks for such a detailed reply.
    I'm wondering what kind of tenses should I expect? I already know, past, present, future and conditional fairly well. I can't really remember the other tenses I used, haha.
    I'll get a notepad especially for vocabulary then. I've already got an advanced English to French dictionary as well. Oh, and I'll start getting some more of the DVDs you mentioned.
    Thanks for the help, it's helped a lot.
    You're very welcome.

    The tenses we've used this year included:

    Perfect tense - very basic, I expect you know this (ils sont venus/j'ai mangé)

    Imperfect tense - describing continuous actions and describing what something was like in the past (quand elle était petite/elle avait/il faisait)

    Pluperfect tense - describing something that had taken place before some event in the past (ils s'étaient bien préparés/il m'a dit qu'il m'avait donné une bonne note)
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    (Original post by 21stcenturyphantom)
    Which exam board are you with? Is there any study of Literature in either AS or A2? Thanks.
    I'm with WJEC (Welsh board). At AS there is no study of literature - it is only recommended you read for e.g Le Petit Prince but this does not come up on the syllabus. The only topics are the usual sport, health, youth, culture, etc. However at A2 it is possible - although I'm not entirely sure. I've heard they do politics and racism next year so literature is a possibility.
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    (Original post by BarBaBaBaBarBaBaBa)
    You're very welcome.

    The tenses we've used this year included:

    Perfect tense - very basic, I expect you know this (ils sont venus/j'ai mangé)

    Imperfect tense - describing continuous actions and describing what something was like in the past (quand elle était petite/elle avait/il faisait)

    Pluperfect tense - describing something that had taken place before some event in the past (ils s'étaient bien préparés/il m'a dit qu'il m'avait donné une bonne note)
    That's great, thanks. Imperfect was the one I forgot, I've done a bit on that. ;D
    I haven't done pluperfect, so I'll try have a look into that.
    Thanks for the help again.
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    (Original post by Deziah)
    That's great, thanks. Imperfect was the one I forgot, I've done a bit on that. ;D
    I haven't done pluperfect, so I'll try have a look into that.
    Thanks for the help again.
    No problem! You can PM me anytime you need any more french questions
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    Excellent choice to do French next year! (I'm an A Level French teacher so not at all biased! :P ) I think you will find a bit of a jump form GCSE, but as someone has already said you're building on that foundation of vocabulary and grammar that you have already built up. Obviously the exact specification depends on the exam board you will be doing, I use AQA and at AS you'll be studying relatively familiar topics like TV, cinema, sport, holidays etc, but going into them in more detail and looking at more interesting issues e.g. what impact does tourism have on a town, or will cinemas become obsolete with the introduction of wide screen 3D televisions. The speaking exam is also longer and more spontaneous - if you have come from doing controlled assessments at GCSE where everything is pre-scripted and learned then this might seem a bit daunting at first, but you'll find that you progress so much in your speaking skills during the year that by the time you get to the exam it won't be a problem.

    As for preparations I would suggest revising grammar. As someone said you need to be pretty confident with your basic tenses: present, perfect, imperfect and future. You will revise these during your AS course but will be a big help if you already know your verbs (don't forget about those irregular verbs!). Also listening to or watching anything in French is great - films, music, online radio etc. Join one of the French threads on TSR and that will give you a good opportunity to practise your language.

    A good dictionary will obviously be important, and also a website like www.wordreference.com - this is basically an online version of a bilingual dictionary which is very good - you can also get an app for smartphones so you can always have it with you. Never use online translators. A little book like Mot à Mot is brilliant for topic-specific vocab and has some great phrases to use in essays.

    Hope that helps - bonne chance¡
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    (Original post by Deziah)
    In September, I'm going to be studying A-level French and I'm just wondering what I should expect. I know there is a big jump from GCSE to A-level and I'm wondering whether there is any way of preparing over summer. I've bought a French film and I've been watching that to try and improve my listening. I'm also predicted an 'A' at GCSE and I'm wondering how I'll find it.
    Any advice is welcome.
    Hi Deziah, I'm currently doing A2. I didn't do GCSE (I'm an international student) so I don't know about the "jump" to A-level but before A-level, I had only 3 months to start on French which I had no idea about what it is ( still wondering why I chose it haha). But, when I came to A-level, the French level at this stage was massively a big challenge for me, I literally needed to translate the whole text with each vocab in English to understand it but....Practice makes perfect. At the end of AS exam, I was surprised that I got a high C which I just retook and got 100% in the written paper. Not to show off or anything but if you've done GCSE, which you obviously did, then A-level wouldn't be that disastrous so do it!! I recommend that you should read French newspaper like everyday and try to live with it (wake up in the morning and start speaking French), expose yourself to as much French as possible, RFI and Le Petit Journal are currently my favourite to improve listening. Watching French film is not really a good option because I found it very hard and demotivating listening to it because it used lots of slang words and stuff but I think I can get it by now but for starters, I would reckon radios and things like that where speech is done clearly. For writing, just read French news (Lemonde) as much as possible as it gives you loads of high-level phrases and the most important thing " Mot-à-Mot" book, that book is a must for French A-level students
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    (Original post by kf289)
    A little book like Mot à Mot is brilliant for topic-specific vocab and has some great phrases to use in essays.
    (Original post by bakyvinnynguyen)
    the most important thing " Mot-à-Mot" book, that book is a must for French A-level students
    So happy that I've bought that to help for when I do it in September. Bear in mind, I've not done French for 2 years so I also bought 'Action Grammaire' This has got LOTS and LOTS of things (which is why it's about £20 :eek:) It even has a verb list. I've looked through Mot à Mot (briefly) WOW! There's so much vocab. On my Twitter (which I don't go on anymore :cool:, I followed 'Le Monde' But now I just go on their website. Let's hope this and the odd film (Persopolis?) will get me ready for starting college (ever so nervous). My Grandma gave me her Michel Thomas French set, but it's really only necessary for recapping things (I outdo the couple on the CD most of the time ).

    Pardon mon français, c'est très mal!
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    the problem with Mot à Mot is that sometimes you don't know what you should study because there are lots of things in the book so, the best thing to do is that once you finish any chapter in your standard book, find the topic in Mot à Mot and select which one you think is the best phrase/word to learn cuz obviously you cannot learn it all ). Arghhh, need to go back to revise French now, I spend too much time wandering around TSR.
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    Tips;
    Mot-a-Mot; excellent.
    Collins French-English dictionary; absolutely necessary.
    Little tenses book; Do it. Do it now. Plus, my friends all find it hilarious that I have this, it has been described as 'cute'... French teacher adored me the moment I whipped it out.
    Huge book to write down all the vocab you'll learn in class. Your teacher will just find one word and give you sixty other words, (all of which will seem to be totally useless at the time), that will come up at some point. All vocab is good vocab.
    If you can get your hands on some really old fashioned French textbooks they're great. Mainly because, despite what others say, French is actually easier now. It used to be a nightmare.
    www.wordreference.com; faster than the dictionary if you're in a rush.
    Enormous amounts of time; learning a language is not a doss. You really need to work.

    All in all, I ADORE French. It's the only class I can firmly say I'm actively involved in because you're given a chance to do so. It's only slightly structured so that you can transform yourself. The French Language gives you your chance to reinvent yourself; take it and run.
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    probably some french from time to time :P

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