Past historic in French history essay (AQA A2)

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LordStark
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Hi!

I was going over some history essays with my teacher the other day and she recommended that I write one paragraph of my history essay next Monday in the past historic to show off my skill.

However, I've not perfected it so far so I'd need to do a lot of work this weekend to get it down. As well, I was thinking how it's not on the specification so any English markers might not be au fait on it themselves and thus it could needlessly complicate matters and end up hurting me rather than helping me.

Has anyone had any discussions on the past historic with their teachers? This is my teacher's first time teaching A level (although she's a native speaker) so this course has been mostly improvised.

Would appreciate any input! Thanks.
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Anna Schoon
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(Original post by LordStark)
Hi!

I was going over some history essays with my teacher the other day and she recommended that I write one paragraph of my history essay next Monday in the past historic to show off my skill.

However, I've not perfected it so far so I'd need to do a lot of work this weekend to get it down. As well, I was thinking how it's not on the specification so any English markers might not be au fait on it themselves and thus it could needlessly complicate matters and end up hurting me rather than helping me.

Has anyone had any discussions on the past historic with their teachers? This is my teacher's first time teaching A level (although she's a native speaker) so this course has been mostly improvised.

Would appreciate any input! Thanks.
A bit late in the day but hopefully not too late! For goodness sake DO NOT use the past historic in your written exam. In A level exams no credit will be given for it; in IB exams you will be penalised for using it.

Your French teacher, being French, does not (yet) realise that the British exam system does not reflect French as it is used in France. So although she's right in principle, please do not follow her advice!
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LordStark
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(Original post by Anna Schoon)
A bit late in the day but hopefully not too late! For goodness sake DO NOT use the past historic in your written exam. In A level exams no credit will be given for it; in IB exams you will be penalised for using it.

Your French teacher, being French, does not (yet) realise that the British exam system does not reflect French as it is used in France. So although she's right in principle, please do not follow her advice!
I didn't use it! Thanks for the advice. I'll let her know diplomatically the next time I see her so she doesn't recommend it to anyone in future!
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Reality Check
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(Original post by LordStark)
Hi!
As well, I was thinking how it's not on the specification so any English markers might not be au fait on it themselves and thus it could needlessly complicate matters and end up hurting me rather than helping me.
I think it's a little bit ludicrous to suggest that the examiners won't know a basic tense like the le passé simple, particularly if you're being examined at A2 level.

My advice is not to worry about the examiners, but on your own language level. If you don't know how to use it properly, then just stick to the passé compose for one-off completed events in the past (though the passé simple is the correct choice for academic writing like this)
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(Original post by Anna Schoon)
A bit late in the day but hopefully not too late! For goodness sake DO NOT use the past historic in your written exam. In A level exams no credit will be given for it
Where did you get this information from that you will not receive any credit for using the passé simple in an A2 examination?
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Anna Schoon
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(Original post by Reality Check)
Where did you get this information from that you will not receive any credit for using the passé simple in an A2 examination?
To begin with, in the A level specifications you will see the note: "(R)" after the past historic in the grammar section. This means that students are expected to recognise the past historic but not to use it.

I've looked for more specific instructions publicly available on the internet but have not been able to find any in a hurry. However, as a teacher, I do know that the situation is that examiners are given instructions not to give credit for use of the past historic. All teachers know this and this is why it is usually only taught very superficially in most schools.
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(Original post by Anna Schoon)
To begin with, in the A level specifications you will see the note: "(R)" after the past historic in the grammar section. This means that students are expected to recognise the past historic but not to use it.

I've looked for more specific instructions publicly available on the internet but have not been able to find any in a hurry. However, as a teacher, I do know that the situation is that examiners are given instructions not to give credit for use of the past historic. All teachers know this and this is why it is usually only taught very superficially in most schools.
It's a shame you can't find any evidence to back this claim up - all exam boards have all the information readily available on their websites, so it is not 'hidden' anywhere. I suspect the reason why you can't find this information is that it's not true - you are incorrect to say that 'the past historic doesn't get any credit'.

I am an examiner for AQA, and although I do not examine for French, I know examiners who do. I asked one of them about your post this afternoon, and they were a bit baffled by where you might have got that information - if a candidate writes in the passé simple, they will be fully credited for it (assuming it's correct). The (R) in the specifications means 'Receptive', in that the candidate is expected to be able to recognize the tense, but not necessarily use it. However, if the candidate does use it correctly, then there's no question of his receiving full credit for this.
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Anna Schoon
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(Original post by Reality Check)
It's a shame you can't find any evidence to back this claim up - all exam boards have all the information readily available on their websites, so it is not 'hidden' anywhere. I suspect the reason why you can't find this information is that it's not true - you are incorrect to say that 'the past historic doesn't get any credit'.

I am an examiner for AQA, and although I do not examine for French, I know examiners who do. I asked one of them about your post this afternoon, and they were a bit baffled by where you might have got that information - if a candidate writes in the passé simple, they will be fully credited for it (assuming it's correct). The (R) in the specifications means 'Receptive', in that the candidate is expected to be able to recognize the tense, but not necessarily use it. However, if the candidate does use it correctly, then there's no question of his receiving full credit for this.
Good to know; thank you for this update.

When I started teaching the rule was that no credit could or would be given if it wasn't in the specification - so no credit for using the past historic; you might as well not bother with it and just use the passé composé. I remember a note explaining that it was deemed that this would ensure a more level playing-field between pupils from academic and independent schools on the one hand and less academic schools on the other.

My son (who is fully bilingual, French / English) was told by his teacher that he would actually be penalised if he used the past historic in the International Baccalaureat (Higher level) exam.

It is excellent news that the A level boards have now moved towards an approach which is a better reflection of how the past historic is used in France.
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(Original post by Anna Schoon)
Good to know; thank you for this update.

When I started teaching the rule was that no credit could or would be given if it wasn't in the specification - so no credit for using the past historic; you might as well not bother with it and just use the passé composé. I remember a note explaining that it was deemed that this would ensure a more level playing-field between pupils from academic and independent schools on the one hand and less academic schools on the other.

My son (who is fully bilingual, French / English) was told by his teacher that he would actually be penalised if he used the past historic in the International Baccalaureat (Higher level) exam.

It is excellent news that the A level boards have now moved towards an approach which is a better reflection of how the past historic is used in France.
I couldn't agree with this more - we share exactly the same sentiments on this issue! I spend a fair amount of time in France, and the notion that the passé simple is somehow 'exotic' to British schoolchildren is usually met with slight derision. As you say, it's important that the specification better reflects French as it is currently spoken.
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