How to study for languages at A Level?Watch
Modern Foreign Languages are my greatest passion! For A Levels I'm going to be studying Spanish, French, Politics and Psychology.
I'm currently doing my GCSEs, but there's not a lot of GCSE languages revision to do- in all the French and Spanish mock exams we've done, I've got full marks (or 1 or 2 marks off of full marks because I made a clumsy error or misread the tense or something.)
I'm going to spend most of my time preparing for my other GCSEs.
However, I think I'd like to get a little bit of a head-start at the languages A Levels before I go into sixth form. I don't want to stop revising languages and then slip up and not do well in the exams, or pass the exams but then forget basic things, but at the same time I don't want to be constantly revising stuff I already know.
Thinking about A Level languages made me think about Sixth Form, and how little I know about the A Levels, so I have some questions for those of you who are studying languages:
1) What do the courses generally involve? (AQA)
2) How do they differ from GCSEs? (In terms of context but also teaching and grading and the quality of your work)
3) How difficult do you find it?
4) How do you revise?
5) If you're studying 2 or more: How do you manage it? Do you find it hard?
6) Do you try and incorporate your language into your daily life? If so, how?
Also if you have anything else to add, that would be brilliant!
Thanks in advance!
1 / 2) Split into topics - e.g at AS there were
4 main ones which were Media (TV, advertising...), Popular Culture (Cinema, Fashion....), Healthy Living (Sport, Health, Holidays) and Family/Relationships.
Different in that you can't learn set responses like you could for GCSE. In the oral there's questions on a topic of your choice, a different topic and a stimulus card on a third topic. To get good grades, it has to be spontaneous and like a normal conversation rather than giving set responces. There's also grammar gapfillers as part of the written paper.
In A2, also study a film and a book. I think you can study a painter/musician instead; it's up to your teacher. Instead of gapfillers, this year there are translations F→E and E→F, which are really hard as need 100% accuracy!
In terms of grading, it is a huge step up. Also different in that if your grammar is bad, you lose content marks. If your content marks are low, all other areas have to be marked down as well.
4) Best way to revise for the oral and written is learning vocab and revising tenses. Your French could be amazing but if you don't have the vocab to express your ideas then can only get low marks! Listen to French radio, read French newspaper articles or books or anything to get you used to reading and hearing French.
3) It's probably my hardest and definitely my most time consuming subject, but I absolutely love it even though I'm not that good at it!
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It's definitely more interesting than GCSE, you cover more topics (sounds more daunting than it really is!) and they're modern, entertaining topics like music and TV, so I liked being able to talk to others about my interests
The oral is more difficult in the sense that you can't predict what you'll be asked or memorise a speech etc.. though that's a good thing in a way, it's better to make it up as you go along instead of rehearsing a speech like a robot
I've found the last two years fairly unpredictable, I was working at a C grade pretty much the whole of last year then got an A in the real exam (???) but one thing I've learnt is that even a tiny bit of revision each night, even about 5 minutes, will really help.. I personally see results in about two weeks when I do extra revision each night. I revise by watching/reading the news (usually BBC Mundo because this is the right sort of level for me), and that includes many of the A2 topics, which are immigration, science and technology, multi-cultural society, the environment, law and order... and more I can't remember off the top of my head - they tend to merge more than AS topics as they're more interlinked. I also revise by doing translation from a booklet I was given, maybe ask your teacher for one? I think this was just a workbook ordered from AQA. I guess the easiest way to revise would be to talk in Spanish, I definitely benefit from my conversation lessons, which I try to fit into my week as much as possible. But obviously, it can be quite hard to actually find someone to talk to, so maybe revise with a classmate.
A2 literature/media vary a bit, at my school we study Pan's Labyrinth with The House of Bernarda Alba, both of which I enjoy. I think this bit is probably the hardest part of the exam, my writing is usually good, and I take English Lit so my essay writing should be fairly strong but I always struggle to get higher marks... I guess it's a combination of learning a wide range of vocab specific to the text, along with studying a particular theme in depth so you can twist the question (which are always quite vague) to fit that and lots of quotations.
Sorry for writing so much, I got a little carried away!