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A-Level French

Background information about studying French

How will it differ from GCSE?


The "jump" between GCSE and AS-Level French is often debated; however with the new AS schemes having been implemented last year the "jump" has been reduced, with arguably a more significant step-up between AS and A2. Before starting AS French, however, one should have a good grasp of the basic tenses and grammar. Vocabulary learning is also essential throughout this period. However, if neither are your strong area and you still have a passion for French that is not to say you shouldn't contemplate taking it: as you will be directly exposed to the language four or five times a week, and work hard to understand the concepts of grammar, it should become easier and easier.


The workload for French differs between teachers, obviously. For AS Level essays should be continually set; but of a much lesser length and in a lot less depth than an A2 essay which is more specific on your topic areas.

Required Individual Study

The required study time of French varies between person to person. While you should dedicate time to your homework and getting the best marks, it should be noted that language learning is progressive, rather than something that can be "crammed". The best ways to improve your French at A-level are revising topic areas, revising vocab, and immersing yourself within the language: this could just mean watching a french video on youtube. French requires consistent study, and if you consistently try and do your best then there is not a large need for required individual self study, and even revision.

How is it assessed?


AQA: Listening, Reading and Writing: 140 marks (out of 200) for AS and A2 - Orals: 60 marks (out of 200) for AS and A2 Edexcel: Listening, Reading and Writing: 140 marks (out of 200) for AS and A2 (there is no listening section in the A2 exam, but there is a translation exercise) - Orals: 60 marks (out of 200) for AS and A2 OCR: Listening, Reading and Writing: 140 marks (out of 200) for AS and A2 - Orals: 60 marks (out of 200) for AS and A2 WJEC: Listening, Reading and Writing: 120 marks (out of 200) for AS and A2 - Orals: 80 marks (out of 200) for AS and A2


AQA, WJEC and OCR do not set coursework. Other exam boards fill in as appropriate


Field trips and excursions

The most obvious would be a trip to France to get a closer insight to the culture, lifestyle and also to use the language in action.

Where can I go with a French A-Level

The world is your oyster. Most degree courses would appreciate people who take a language (even if just at AS-Level).

There are many courses around the UK where you can study towards a Single Honours degree in French. The majority of these courses involve a year studying in France or another French-speaking country, which is a fantastic opportunity.

Also, there are many courses where you can take a language in addition to another subject such as Law or a second and sometimes even a third language such as Spanish and German.

User Opinions

Username: Agent Smirnoff

What I like about studying this subject: AS Level French offers a student many things. So far during my studies of French at AS Level I have found it to be an alltogether interesting and challenging (in a good way) experience. I often liken GCSE French to "Coffee Shop French" or "Tourist French" as GCSE French is often superficial and if one was to look at the content of a GCSE course , they would know what I am talking about.

AS French gives you not only a more interesting and varied vocabulary but it also gives the student a well rounded and interesting look into: France; French Culture and common social issues and topics. We have , in the space 8 or so weeks into the course, learnt not just vocabulary related to but also typical issues , arguments and opinions on social issues throughout France , and maybe other places as well, such as: Marriage and Relationships, Smoking and Consumption of Alcohol; Family and we have much more to come.

I like the broad nature of the course in the sense that I get a lot more out of it than I would have ever expected. You will learn a very interesting vocabulary , but of course it won't have you speaking French better Napolian though. :)

You should also be fairly competent in understanding some French Media (Newspaper , Magazine , News etc...)

I would say read a news blog or try Radio France. If you want magazines to practice then try looking for a subscription to Le Petit Quotidien or Mon Quotidien. It is posted to you from France as it is a French publication.

I am resitting my AS Levels and therfore seeing as I never did French last year.... It has left a considerable gap between my GCSE and the start of the course by a year or so. I was expecting the jump to be really difficult , seeing as I naturally forgot some material. However it wasn't as bad as I thought. But it isn't very comfortable though. :( However it is alright and with a bit of work it can be done( if you are in a similar situation to me). Although I do have to catch up quite a bit on Grammar.

What I dislike about studying this subject: Well not a lot to be honest. That said, the course is quite Grammar intensive and French Grammar is not easy. But it is not really hard to be honest. You just have to remember quite a few rules in order to get a good grade. For example some verbs and tenses just need to be memorised as sometimes no pattern exists. However the Conditional tense is basically the Future tense with a small change to the ending of the word.

Another point is that French is one of "those subjects" If you miss a lesson...... DO CATCH UP AS BEST AS YOU CAN or better yet: Make sure you can , and do, attend all of your lessons. It can cause big gaps and big problems for you if you miss out on lessons. I learnt that the hard way unfortunately.

My tips: Yeah I added this bit in! :p Buy a book called: "Mot á Mot" It can give you some good vocabulary to jazz up your essays. French comes with a lot of essays! :-)

Username: jpatel10

What I like about studying this subject: Great if your interested in European culture, you definitely learn more than just the language. I feel it gives you an edge if you take a language as not that many people do it and it makes you seem really smart if you do well amongst your peers lol.

What I dislike about studying this subject: Most boards only have the one paper, so if you have a bad day, you're screwed!

Username: MB

What I like about studying this subject: Every lesson is varied. I like the fact that you no longer only talk about yourself, but about current issues aswell (e.g. the effects of tv on children).

What I dislike about studying this subject: The sheer amount of vocab learning you have to do! Oh, and the essays!

Username: Asha1991

What I like about studying this subject: I've always found french the most satisfying subject because you're constantly working towards becoming fluent in another language. You become so much more opinonated and you not only improve your language skills but inevitably you learn a heck of a lot about the world around you because the topics are so diverse and relevant to today's society. And of course you become more culturally aware as you study the attitudes of another country.

What I dislike about studying this subject: I personally find translations extremely challenging but everyone has a skill that they're not so good on.

Username: 69Crazyfists

What I like about studying this subject: I've always loved learning languages (Latin, Italian, Chinese, whatever) but French is more important for me because it would be good to become fluent. At A-level there is a wide range of topics to be discussed and you can elaborate on 'My Favourite Sport' and 'Where I Went On Holiday' to things such as what can be done about crime in the french suburbs.

What I dislike about studying this subject: I'm quite a fluent writer of French and as such I don't really think about what I write, I just do it. However I am required to 'actively fit in a complex sentence structure'. It's frustrating when you've rattled off a great essay that is perfect French but you get marked down because there aren't any subjunctives. On top of that there are a couple of topics which hold no interest for me. For example 'Les Organismes Génétiquement Modifié'

Username: Alouette!

What I like about studying this subject: The fact that French (or any other language) is cross-curricular, is amazing in my opinion, as it gives you a wide knowledge of not only the French language, but the cultures of the Francophone world in terms of History, Geography, Religion, Politics and Media for example. In addition to this, knowing that you are approaching fluency in a language as time progresses is extremely rewarding, as it not only enhances your chances of employment, but also gives you a sense of accomplishment when a native speaker understands what you say to them.

What I dislike about studying this subject: I can honestly hold my hands up to the fact that i'm a true French nerd and say that there is nothing that I dislike about language learning! :P

Username: SiaSiaSia

What I like about studying this subject: I loved studying French because it was far more indepth than the GCSE and you could really immerse yourself in the language. I personally really enjoyed the course and found it more enjoying than a challenge.

What I dislike about studying this subject: The orals are always going to be stressful, no matter how much work you've put into them (still never got below an A in an oral, but it is petrifying!) and some of the AS stuff felt a bit pointless... just writing the pros and cons of TV. I suppose it was interesting but it was too basic for me. I much preferred the A2 course (although racism is so dull) as by that stage your linguistic capabilities are far better.

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