N.B. This page is based on the Edexcel specfication for the Higher Tier ONLY although a lot of the advice will be relevant to all boards.
What does the course consist of?
- 25% = Speaking
- 25% = Listening
- 25% = Reading
- 25% = Writing (exam or coursework)
What exams do I have to take?
Writing: 4H/4C (Coursework)
What are the grade boundaries?
- Generally, it goes as follows:
80-100% = A* 70-80% = A 60-70% = B 50-60% = C 40-50% = D
and so on....
- Based on the GCSE French 1226 Edexcel in the year 2008 of examination.
How do I get an A*?
If you are doing coursework, then check all your coursework for mistakes. Include as many tenses as possible. The higher the mark you get on your coursework, the more likely you are to get an A*. Watching French films and listening to French radio/music is an excellent way of preparing for the listening exam. However, if you don't have the time or resources for this, don't fret, it's not majorly important at GCSE. Do as many practise papers as possible, practise really does make perfect. Learn all your 'essential vocab'. The more vocabulary you know the better chance you have of doing really well. For the speaking test, again, practise. The role play isn't difficult - for the 'unknown' element, try to think of possibilities for what it could be. It's usually fairly predictable. Learn your presentation off by heart and prepare good answers to the questions. You should be able to achieve a decent mark in the speaking element provided that you
- a) Include a variety of tenses
- b) Include varied vocabulary - instead of c'est bien, try c'est fantastique
- c) Don't speak too much English!
- d) Don't hesitate too much
- e) Use a good accent - This isn't hard (who can't do a French accent? :P) Don't worry if you think you sound like an idiot, no one's there to laugh at you and the teacher certainly won't! An accent adds the cherry to a hopefully perfect speaking exam.
- f) Lie through your teeth! When in any of the exams don't make mistakes just because you want to be truthful: if you only know how to say your that school is pink and ten floors high then say it because the examiner isn't going to check - he/she won't even care as long as you French is correct.
- g) Learn little filler phrases to make yourself sound natural. "Comme j'ai deja dit" (as I've already said) is a great one for making it sound better if you repeat yourself. "Je m'excuse" (sorry/excuse me) is good if you say something that's obviously wrong. If your examiner says something remotely amusing, laugh and say "oui".
Finally, don't worry! I was expecting to get an A, consistently getting As on practise papers and in the final exam I got an A*. I was pretty surprised to be honest as French isn't my best subject. Just practise and make sure you pay attention to the points above and you'll be fine.
What topics do I learn?
Learn the usual topics such as Home and abroad, hobbies, lifestyle, media, entertainment etc. They like to ask questions on these topics, especially questions on lifestyle and media for the higher grades. Go through vocab, some grammar, and just make sure you know what you need to do for the specification.
How do you memorise vocabulary quickly and easily?
You can't. In my opinion it's all about using it when you speak and in writing, that's the only way to learn new vocabulary. You can learn it quickly by just looking over it a few times before the exam but you probably won't use it in the correct context and it would be difficult to remember clever bits of vocab. Talk to yourself for 10 minutes (at least) a night and try and use some of the vocab you learnt or noted down that day.I find doing this while taking a shower or making tea is the best time. This sounds worrying but it helps with both vocabulary and speaking skills, also because you are on your own it allows you to improve your accent without feeling like an idiot and totally self conscious. Et finalement, bonne chance!
I can't speak French fluently - help!!
Neither can I, and I'm doing A level French! You do not at all need to be anywhere near fluent standard.
Just to add a bit to this, my French wasn't all that fluent when I did my oral. Turns out I did OK (got an A for the oral, but A* overall). All that matters is you that you are talking sense and talking in French...
How to remember the ever-lasting grammar points?
Practise writing french, get your teacher to check through your work - that's what they're there for! Also reading some articles in french would massively improve your understanding of grammar, try [www.20minutes.fr], read some articles and you'll soon understand how the language works.