French (AS Options) Watch

EastGuava
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I was considering A-level French as a 'fourth' subject (so it's probably one that I would drop after AS), but I'm not too sure whether it's for me.

GCSE French has gone pretty well and I've enjoyed the lessons, however I can't fully base my decision off that. Specifically, I don't know if I can handle the speaking exams. At GCSE they were relatively simple, but I think that's because we were given a lot of guidance. I don't think I'd be very good at them for A-level if they're more spontaneous/open ended (...because I'm not exactly the most creative of people). I also don't know about how much essays there are and what the course is like in general, and if I would actually like it.

I think my school is on Edexcel for A-level French, so I'd appreciate some insight into the subject (even if you're on a different exam board). I should also point out that I can't really construct sentences in French or anything - but if I take the A-level I intend to put in a lot more effort than I've done at GCSE.

Thanks!
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Neuth
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(Original post by EastGuava)
I was considering A-level French as a 'fourth' subject (so it's probably one that I would drop after AS), but I'm not too sure whether it's for me.

GCSE French has gone pretty well and I've enjoyed the lessons, however I can't fully base my decision off that. Specifically, I don't know if I can handle the speaking exams. At GCSE they were relatively simple, but I think that's because we were given a lot of guidance. I don't think I'd be very good at them for A-level if they're more spontaneous/open ended (...because I'm not exactly the most creative of people). I also don't know about how much essays there are and what the course is like in general, and if I would actually like it.

I think my school is on Edexcel for A-level French, so I'd appreciate some insight into the subject (even if you're on a different exam board). I should also point out that I can't really construct sentences in French or anything - but if I take the A-level I intend to put in a lot more effort than I've done at GCSE.

Thanks!
If you've enjoyed it at GCSE and are willing to put the time in, you should be fine!

Languages are great fun, and are a brilliant subject to have.

I personally haven't done A-Level French, so can't tell you much, sorry
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EastGuava
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(Original post by Caitlin_3008)
If you've enjoyed it at GCSE and are willing to put the time in, you should be fine!

Languages are great fun, and are a brilliant subject to have.

I personally haven't done A-Level French, so can't tell you much, sorry
Yeah, I agree, but I don't want to do badly thanks anyway haha
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EastGuava
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...bump...
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Toriar
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I do AQA French and the Listening, Reading & Writing exam basically comprises of similar listening & reading exercises to what was in GCSE (just with more complex vocabulary and sentences), 10 grammar exercises where you basically just get given the word and you have to put it in the gap in the correct form (e.g. feminine, masculine, conditional tense, etc.), and then an essay where you get given 3 essay titles and you pick one and write a couple of pages about it. Honestly, I think the listening and reading sections are maybe even slightly easier than at GCSE because you get given an MP3 player so you can rewind as much as you like. The grammar is difficult if you haven't bothered to revise it but if you have it should be pretty easy. The essay is definitely the hard part, but like you I couldn't really construct sentences when I first started French AS this year, but now I can write paragraphs without even needing a dictionary or google translate (which really is awful, use wordreference instead). It is perfectly doable if you are willing to do some French in your free time. Also, if you do do French, Quizlet has been a lifesaver for helping me learn my vocab.

The hardest part for me is speaking and although I have improved a lot this year, I still have a long way to go. The speaking exam is basically a 10 minute conversation where you get 20 minutes to prepare a prompt card, then you talk about a topic you've chosen, then you just have a general discussion. You didn't really mention speaking in your post so idk how good you are at it, but even if you're not that good like I was at GCSE, the exam is not as awful as I was expecting.

Overall, only take French if you really enjoy it and are willing to put the effort in, because otherwise you will end up resenting your decision (which happened to many people in my year who dropped out within the first few weeks). If you do enjoy it, however, it is probably one of the most rewarding subjects you could pick. It's a great feeling being able to read something in French that you couldn't at the beginning of the year, or listening to something in French and actually understanding most of it.
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EastGuava
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(Original post by Toriar)
I do AQA French and the Listening, Reading & Writing exam basically comprises of similar listening & reading exercises to what was in GCSE (just with more complex vocabulary and sentences), 10 grammar exercises where you basically just get given the word and you have to put it in the gap in the correct form (e.g. feminine, masculine, conditional tense, etc.), and then an essay where you get given 3 essay titles and you pick one and write a couple of pages about it. Honestly, I think the listening and reading sections are maybe even slightly easier than at GCSE because you get given an MP3 player so you can rewind as much as you like. The grammar is difficult if you haven't bothered to revise it but if you have it should be pretty easy. The essay is definitely the hard part, but like you I couldn't really construct sentences when I first started French AS this year, but now I can write paragraphs without even needing a dictionary or google translate (which really is awful, use wordreference instead). It is perfectly doable if you are willing to do some French in your free time. Also, if you do do French, Quizlet has been a lifesaver for helping me learn my vocab.

The hardest part for me is speaking and although I have improved a lot this year, I still have a long way to go. The speaking exam is basically a 10 minute conversation where you get 20 minutes to prepare a prompt card, then you talk about a topic you've chosen, then you just have a general discussion. You didn't really mention speaking in your post so idk how good you are at it, but even if you're not that good like I was at GCSE, the exam is not as awful as I was expecting.

Overall, only take French if you really enjoy it and are willing to put the effort in, because otherwise you will end up resenting your decision (which happened to many people in my year who dropped out within the first few weeks). If you do enjoy it, however, it is probably one of the most rewarding subjects you could pick. It's a great feeling being able to read something in French that you couldn't at the beginning of the year, or listening to something in French and actually understanding most of it.
Thank you for this!

I did briefly mention speaking exams in my post, by the way, you must've missed it. My speaking exams were pretty good - well, the pre-moderated versions at least - but that's because they made it so easy for us and, provided it was all memorised, the result turned out well. I don't think I could prepare myself for it in 20 minutes though! The speaking is probably the main thing that discourages me. D:
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Petulia
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Languages probably have the biggest jump from GCSE to A Levels. I got an A* for GCSE French because it required no more than having a decent memory and knowing basic vocab.
I'm on WJEC for AS French now and, just like you, I struggle most with the oral. Most exam boards have the same structure, but ours is like this:
15 minute oral exam worth 40% in the AS year. We study 15 topics throughout the year (fashion, sports, festivals, technology etc) and on the day of the oral exam there's about 8 cards turned over and you have to pick 2 completely randomly. One is a picture card, and one is a short text. They could be on any of the topics we studied throughout the year. You have 15 minutes to prepare for the questions. 7 minutes answering the questions, then 7 minutes general conversation.
Listening, reading and writing is all in one paper and you can rewind the listening etc since you're given an mp3 player, so it's not too bad.
16 marks in our paper was for a translation from French into good English.
Then 30 marks go towards a 200-250 word essay based on one of the topics we've studied, and you're given a choice of about 5. Once you learn how to structure the essay, you'll realise that this is actually really easy.
We've started A2 work and half of the curriculum is based on French cinema (but I think some exam boards cover French literature) and it's pretty fun.
I also study Biology, Chemistry and English Lit, so French has been my most enjoyable subject, but the only thing is the oral - you need to be prepared to improvise on the spot.
If you can learn all the conjugations, agreements and key vocab, you should do well.
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Toriar
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(Original post by EastGuava)
Thank you for this!

I did briefly mention speaking exams in my post, by the way, you must've missed it. My speaking exams were pretty good - well, the pre-moderated versions at least - but that's because they made it so easy for us and, provided it was all memorised, the result turned out well. I don't think I could prepare myself for it in 20 minutes though! The speaking is probably the main thing that discourages me. D:
Oh trust me, 20 minutes is more than enough. You only use that time to prepare a response to the 5 questions on the stimulus card and that part of the exam only lasts about 2 minutes and isn't worth many of the marks anyway. The hardest part is the general conversation where you can't really just memorise pre-prepared paragraphs like at GCSE, but you will do a lot of practice of this over the year and if you learn your grammar and vocab well, you should be able to construct at least semi-decent sentences under pressure.
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EastGuava
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(Original post by Petulia)
Languages probably have the biggest jump from GCSE to A Levels. I got an A* for GCSE French because it required no more than having a decent memory and knowing basic vocab.
I'm on WJEC for AS French now and, just like you, I struggle most with the oral. Most exam boards have the same structure, but ours is like this:
15 minute oral exam worth 40% in the AS year. We study 15 topics throughout the year (fashion, sports, festivals, technology etc) and on the day of the oral exam there's about 8 cards turned over and you have to pick 2 completely randomly. One is a picture card, and one is a short text. They could be on any of the topics we studied throughout the year. You have 15 minutes to prepare for the questions. 7 minutes answering the questions, then 7 minutes general conversation.
Listening, reading and writing is all in one paper and you can rewind the listening etc since you're given an mp3 player, so it's not too bad.
16 marks in our paper was for a translation from French into good English.
Then 30 marks go towards a 200-250 word essay based on one of the topics we've studied, and you're given a choice of about 5. Once you learn how to structure the essay, you'll realise that this is actually really easy.
We've started A2 work and half of the curriculum is based on French cinema (but I think some exam boards cover French literature) and it's pretty fun.
I also study Biology, Chemistry and English Lit, so French has been my most enjoyable subject, but the only thing is the oral - you need to be prepared to improvise on the spot.
If you can learn all the conjugations, agreements and key vocab, you should do well.
Thanks for the reply the comments here are quite positive which is encouraging! Would you say that, in comparison to GCSE, it's all very similar as a whole, except there's a lot more vocab and less preparation/more improvisation which are what make it harder? And maybe the fact that you actually need to know the language?

(Original post by Toriar)
Oh trust me, 20 minutes is more than enough. You only use that time to prepare a response to the 5 questions on the stimulus card and that part of the exam only lasts about 2 minutes and isn't worth many of the marks anyway. The hardest part is the general conversation where you can't really just memorise pre-prepared paragraphs like at GCSE, but you will do a lot of practice of this over the year and if you learn your grammar and vocab well, you should be able to construct at least semi-decent sentences under pressure.
Oh okay, it sounds doable I guess. I'm probably awful at conversations in general though, let alone in a foreign language xD I was terrible at my English Language speaking and listening exam. :\ perhaps I could still cope...I suppose I'll have to see how everything turns out on results day to decide.
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Petulia
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(Original post by EastGuava)
Thanks for the reply the comments here are quite positive which is encouraging! Would you say that, in comparison to GCSE, it's all very similar as a whole, except there's a lot more vocab and less preparation/more improvisation which are what make it harder? And maybe the fact that you actually need to know the language?


Oh okay, it sounds doable I guess. I'm probably awful at conversations in general though, let alone in a foreign language xD I was terrible at my English Language speaking and listening exam. :\ perhaps I could still cope...I suppose I'll have to see how everything turns out on results day to decide.
I would say that I still find it very difficult to improvise, but I have learnt a lot more since GCSEs. I can read French texts etc without a problem, because you learn about a lot of different grammatical techniques which are used all the time in French. I think you'll have the same problem as me (most people studying French have some kind of French/Italian background etc whereas I have none, which is why I struggle with the oral) - learning the vocab won't be a problem, it's just conjugating verbs and constructing sentences on the spot which is difficult. But if you just practise and memorise key phrases then it won't be too bad. And it's easy to script the general conversation part anyway because the teacher asks obvious questions e.g what do you want to study at university? etc.
As long as you're okay with the writing/reading/listening, then the oral isn't that much of a problem because I'm retaking mine during my A2 year anyway.
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Toriar
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(Original post by EastGuava)
Thanks for the reply the comments here are quite positive which is encouraging! Would you say that, in comparison to GCSE, it's all very similar as a whole, except there's a lot more vocab and less preparation/more improvisation which are what make it harder? And maybe the fact that you actually need to know the language?


Oh okay, it sounds doable I guess. I'm probably awful at conversations in general though, let alone in a foreign language xD I was terrible at my English Language speaking and listening exam. :\ perhaps I could still cope...I suppose I'll have to see how everything turns out on results day to decide.
It really is doable, please don't let the speaking part put you off. I was also terrible at speaking and listening because I'm a really really shy and quiet person but I still managed to do the exam and it wasn't too bad as it was only in front of one person, so if I can do it I'm sure you can too! If you're lucky your teacher might even be the person you do the speaking exam with which might put you more at ease, but for me I had an external examiner.
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romaleos2
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The 20 mins to prepare for speaking is longer than you think, even I managed to write down my points and I am absolutely awful at the subject

I'd say the hardest bit for me this year has been the vocab. There're just so many words to learn for each section! The essay is hard if you don't know your content well enough, and you also have to structure them properly. You need to write a proper essay at AS, can't just write random sentences and hope it all makes sense
But yes, it's not a bad subject to take!
I mean I only took the subject to get a break from all my mathsy subjects ahah and I wasn't really that good at GCSE but it's still manageable You just need to build up your French abilities throughout the year, it's a really bad idea to leave it to near the exam period.
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EastGuava
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(Original post by Petulia)
I would say that I still find it very difficult to improvise, but I have learnt a lot more since GCSEs. I can read French texts etc without a problem, because you learn about a lot of different grammatical techniques which are used all the time in French. I think you'll have the same problem as me (most people studying French have some kind of French/Italian background etc whereas I have none, which is why I struggle with the oral) - learning the vocab won't be a problem, it's just conjugating verbs and constructing sentences on the spot which is difficult. But if you just practise and memorise key phrases then it won't be too bad. And it's easy to script the general conversation part anyway because the teacher asks obvious questions e.g what do you want to study at university? etc.
As long as you're okay with the writing/reading/listening, then the oral isn't that much of a problem because I'm retaking mine during my A2 year anyway.

(Original post by Toriar)
It really is doable, please don't let the speaking part put you off. I was also terrible at speaking and listening because I'm a really really shy and quiet person but I still managed to do the exam and it wasn't too bad as it was only in front of one person, so if I can do it I'm sure you can too! If you're lucky your teacher might even be the person you do the speaking exam with which might put you more at ease, but for me I had an external examiner.
You've both been helpful, thankyou ^^

(Original post by Meliss)
The 20 mins to prepare for speaking is longer than you think, even I managed to write down my points and I am absolutely awful at the subject

I'd say the hardest bit for me this year has been the vocab. There're just so many words to learn for each section! The essay is hard if you don't know your content well enough, and you also have to structure them properly. You need to write a proper essay at AS, can't just write random sentences and hope it all makes sense
But yes, it's not a bad subject to take!
I mean I only took the subject to get a break from all my mathsy subjects ahah and I wasn't really that good at GCSE but it's still manageable You just need to build up your French abilities throughout the year, it's a really bad idea to leave it to near the exam period.
Cool, my other options are maths/science as well so I thought it would be nice to do something different too
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