A-Level Spanish? Watch

HT2412
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Hi all,

I am currently in Y11 and looking to finalise my subject choices for my AS year. I would absolutely love to study AS/A2 Spanish, and that was always the plan. However, my headteacher pulled me to one side and said to me that she doesn't think the standard of teaching that we've received at GCSE will equip me to study the AS/A2 course, she thinks that I'll be playing catchup from day one.

I'm targeted an A grade at GCSE and predicted an A* - writing coursework expected at an A* with speaking predicted a high A. During Y9 and Y10 we actually didn't have a Spanish speaker teaching us, we were taught by a German speaker as we were the only GCSE Spanish group and the Spanish speaking teacher left at the Christmas of our Y9 when we had already begun the course. For Y11, the school did recruit a Spanish speaking teacher and things have been on the up. I feel like my knowledge of vocabulary is good and I understand basic grammar - present tense endings, conjugating to present tense, masculine/feminine/singular/plural agreement etc. However, I do feel that I lack an in depth knowledge of the subject, particularly the grammar side. I would struggle if asked to conjugate in past / preterit / future tense and I feel I would struggle at present to speak for any given period of time.

Could anyone offer me any advise? Would it be unwise of me to study Spanish further? I am aiming to attend a Russell group university so I can't afford for my grade in this subject to slip.

Thanks in anticipation and apologies for the essay!
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HeyImKate
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(Original post by HT2412)
Hi all,

I am currently in Y11 and looking to finalise my subject choices for my AS year. I would absolutely love to study AS/A2 Spanish, and that was always the plan. However, my headteacher pulled me to one side and said to me that she doesn't think the standard of teaching that we've received at GCSE will equip me to study the AS/A2 course, she thinks that I'll be playing catchup from day one.

I'm targeted an A grade at GCSE and predicted an A* - writing coursework expected at an A* with speaking predicted a high A. During Y9 and Y10 we actually didn't have a Spanish speaker teaching us, we were taught by a German speaker as we were the only GCSE Spanish group and the Spanish speaking teacher left at the Christmas of our Y9 when we had already begun the course. For Y11, the school did recruit a Spanish speaking teacher and things have been on the up. I feel like my knowledge of vocabulary is good and I understand basic grammar - present tense endings, conjugating to present tense, masculine/feminine/singular/plural agreement etc. However, I do feel that I lack an in depth knowledge of the subject, particularly the grammar side. I would struggle if asked to conjugate in past / preterit / future tense and I feel I would struggle at present to speak for any given period of time.

Could anyone offer me any advise? Would it be unwise of me to study Spanish further? I am aiming to attend a Russell group university so I can't afford for my grade in this subject to slip.

Thanks in anticipation and apologies for the essay!
I would say 100% go for it. Although I thought I did pretty well in GCSE spanish, the difference between GCSE and A level is so great that everyone begins kinda on the back foot. I certainly couldn't conjugate any of the tenses, apart from the present tense at the beginning of the year, and I think only about a quarter of the class had been taught how to, so I didn't feel like I was playing catch up at all. Its amazing what you can learn in just a year, especially with focused lessons! AS/A2 Spanish is a challenge, especially because the exams do require a degree of fluency, but if you really love it and are willing to put in extra time to learn grammar and vocab then I'd say go for it.

Let me know if you ever need any help!
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auburnstar
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(Original post by HT2412)
Hi all,

I am currently in Y11 and looking to finalise my subject choices for my AS year. I would absolutely love to study AS/A2 Spanish, and that was always the plan. However, my headteacher pulled me to one side and said to me that she doesn't think the standard of teaching that we've received at GCSE will equip me to study the AS/A2 course, she thinks that I'll be playing catchup from day one.

Could anyone offer me any advise? Would it be unwise of me to study Spanish further? I am aiming to attend a Russell group university so I can't afford for my grade in this subject to slip.

Thanks in anticipation and apologies for the essay!
Ok, I'm not going to sugar-coat things: the jump from GCSE to AS level in languages you're not native fluent in is massive. With a good grasp of languages, a willingness to work and a desire to understand grammar/literature and develop speaking skills, however, it is entirely possible to overcome.

For example, in my case, I had minimal Spanish teaching prior to AS - I could form sentences like you and my basic grammar was strong but I was by no means an essayist or conversationalist. My final AS grade, however, was around 18 marks off of full UMS in Spanish.

There are a couple of key areas to work on, all building up to A2:
- Grammar, including tense conjugation, agreement, vocabulary and translation
- Speaking in a debate setting which requires research into your topic and familiarity with speaking Spanish
- Reading (reading comprehension, multiple choice questions), writing (essays on a theme*), listening (understanding listening, condensing information)
- *Within writing there is also literature where you research a particular book/movie and write an extended essay on this book/movie on a theme

The good thing is that all of these can be practised! For grammar you can quiz yourself using SpanishDict, Duolingo or flashcards - I recommend Palabra por Palabra and the Hodder (ironic title) education books. Make vocab lists on the key themes (youth culture, environment, world around you, education, health) and memorise/quiz yourself on these either writing them down or using Memrise. Translation is also an important skill which builds on all the above so past papers will be useful here as consolidation.

Speaking is practice and research. The more you speak in Spanish on that theme, the better. Research does not have to be intense, it can just be straightforward say if you like climate change what are the key issues, some statistics etc. Reading, writing and listening are all based on practice so listen to podcasts in Spanish, read articles and newspapers and do the sample papers online.

Literature is where it is not just practice-based. There you have to demonstrate your understanding of the text so you have to get to know it very well by reading it thoroughly, making notes and writing essay plans for key questions. It is also very important to read the question multiple times and to make sure you are answering the specific question (also true of the discursive/creative essay). But, as with all the other components, the more you practice the better you get!

This is probably more than you need but it should help you to make a decision. If you're put off by this then maybe a language isn't the right choice but if you are willing to put in the work it is very rewarding (and the progress is really obvious unlike some subjects)!

What other subjects are you choosing to do?
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HT2412
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(Original post by HeyImKate)
I would say 100% go for it. Although I thought I did pretty well in GCSE spanish, the difference between GCSE and A level is so great that everyone begins kinda on the back foot. I certainly couldn't conjugate any of the tenses, apart from the present tense at the beginning of the year, and I think only about a quarter of the class had been taught how to, so I didn't feel like I was playing catch up at all. Its amazing what you can learn in just a year, especially with focused lessons! AS/A2 Spanish is a challenge, especially because the exams do require a degree of fluency, but if you really love it and are willing to put in extra time to learn grammar and vocab then I'd say go for it.

Let me know if you ever need any help!
Thank you so much for taking the time to reply. I'm really reassured by what you've said. Sounds like our starting points would be really similar. Thank you for the offer of help too, you don't know how much that means! I guess that the only way I'll know is to try.
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HT2412
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(Original post by auburnstar)
Ok, I'm not going to sugar-coat things: the jump from GCSE to AS level in languages you're not native fluent in is massive. With a good grasp of languages, a willingness to work and a desire to understand grammar/literature and develop speaking skills, however, it is entirely possible to overcome.

For example, in my case, I had minimal Spanish teaching prior to AS - I could form sentences like you and my basic grammar was strong but I was by no means an essayist or conversationalist. My final AS grade, however, was around 18 marks off of full UMS in Spanish.

There are a couple of key areas to work on, all building up to A2:
- Grammar, including tense conjugation, agreement, vocabulary and translation
- Speaking in a debate setting which requires research into your topic and familiarity with speaking Spanish
- Reading (reading comprehension, multiple choice questions), writing (essays on a theme*), listening (understanding listening, condensing information)
- *Within writing there is also literature where you research a particular book/movie and write an extended essay on this book/movie on a theme

The good thing is that all of these can be practised! For grammar you can quiz yourself using SpanishDict, Duolingo or flashcards - I recommend Palabra por Palabra and the Hodder (ironic title) education books. Make vocab lists on the key themes (youth culture, environment, world around you, education, health) and memorise/quiz yourself on these either writing them down or using Memrise. Translation is also an important skill which builds on all the above so past papers will be useful here as consolidation.

Speaking is practice and research. The more you speak in Spanish on that theme, the better. Research does not have to be intense, it can just be straightforward say if you like climate change what are the key issues, some statistics etc. Reading, writing and listening are all based on practice so listen to podcasts in Spanish, read articles and newspapers and do the sample papers online.

Literature is where it is not just practice-based. There you have to demonstrate your understanding of the text so you have to get to know it very well by reading it thoroughly, making notes and writing essay plans for key questions. It is also very important to read the question multiple times and to make sure you are answering the specific question (also true of the discursive/creative essay). But, as with all the other components, the more you practice the better you get!

This is probably more than you need but it should help you to make a decision. If you're put off by this then maybe a language isn't the right choice but if you are willing to put in the work it is very rewarding (and the progress is really obvious unlike some subjects)!

What other subjects are you choosing to do?
The more the merrier! Definitely not too much information it's great to know, thank you for taking the time to write that. I'm certainly willing to work, I would really love to study Spanish further I guess comments from our head just knocked my confidence a little. My other subjects will be History, English Literature and Philosophy. What do you study? Can I be really cheeky and pick your brains further? Do you think my subjects fit in well with Spanish? Thank you so much for all of your help you're amazing!
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HeyImKate
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(Original post by HT2412)
Thank you so much for taking the time to reply. I'm really reassured by what you've said. Sounds like our starting points would be really similar. Thank you for the offer of help too, you don't know how much that means! I guess that the only way I'll know is to try.
No problem! If you're really worried about grammar you could do some practise over the summer, even if its just watching a spanish tv show or film with english subtitles. Its a chill way to pick up new stuff and you can still tell yourself its learning!
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HT2412
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(Original post by HeyImKate)
No problem! If you're really worried about grammar you could do some practise over the summer, even if its just watching a spanish tv show or film with english subtitles. Its a chill way to pick up new stuff and you can still tell yourself its learning!
I would never have thought of the TV or subtitles, what great ideas - I'll be sure to give them a try! Would I be able to pick your brains even further? Do you think Spanish matches with my other choices of History, English Literature and Philosophy? I know it's often paired with English Language. Thanks so much - sorry for making you work even more!
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HeyImKate
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(Original post by HT2412)
I would never have thought of the TV or subtitles, what great ideas - I'll be sure to give them a try! Would I be able to pick your brains even further? Do you think Spanish matches with my other choices of History, English Literature and Philosophy? I know it's often paired with English Language. Thanks so much - sorry for making you work even more!
Haha no worries, you're helping me procrastinate revision! I think Spanish is quite a versatile subject in what it can be matched with. I do English lit and drama, so obviously all my subjects are kind of languagey, but I don't see why it wouldn't fit with your other subjects. The good thing about the Spanish course, or the exam board I did anyway, is that the different topics you cover often link into other subjects. For example, you might study a Spanish book, or this year we studied the Spanish Civil War, which I think actually did cross over for some people who were studying history. The only thing I would say is those are all essay based subjects, so be prepared to spend your whole two years writing essay upon essay, but if that's your thing then I'd say go for it!
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HT2412
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(Original post by HeyImKate)
Haha no worries, you're helping me procrastinate revision! I think Spanish is quite a versatile subject in what it can be matched with. I do English lit and drama, so obviously all my subjects are kind of languagey, but I don't see why it wouldn't fit with your other subjects. The good thing about the Spanish course, or the exam board I did anyway, is that the different topics you cover often link into other subjects. For example, you might study a Spanish book, or this year we studied the Spanish Civil War, which I think actually did cross over for some people who were studying history. The only thing I would say is those are all essay based subjects, so be prepared to spend your whole two years writing essay upon essay, but if that's your thing then I'd say go for it!
Thank you so much! I better stop talking then so that I can help you to stop procrastinating! Links into other subjects sounds interesting, glad to hear that it will fit! Essay writing is definitely my thing - my brain doesn't compute formulas! Thanks so much for all your help you've really put my mind at ease. I hope you're exams went well and that you get to where you want to be in the Summer!
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auburnstar
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(Original post by HT2412)
My other subjects will be History, English Literature and Philosophy. What do you study? Can I be really cheeky and pick your brains further? Do you think my subjects fit in well with Spanish? Thank you so much for all of your help you're amazing!
My subjects are music, english lit and spanish (did French last year and got an A). I can say that English Lit fits well with it because they both involve literature questions and the mindset of English Lit is quite helpful for that. Those are all really strong essay subjects and will involve a fair bit of writing but the essays for Spanish are only 270-300 words long at most and in another language of course so I always found it a nice mental "break" from 1000 word essays.
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HeyImKate
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(Original post by HT2412)
Thank you so much! I better stop talking then so that I can help you to stop procrastinating! Links into other subjects sounds interesting, glad to hear that it will fit! Essay writing is definitely my thing - my brain doesn't compute formulas! Thanks so much for all your help you've really put my mind at ease. I hope you're exams went well and that you get to where you want to be in the Summer!
Hahah thank you! Good luck on your Spanish journey!!!
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HT2412
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(Original post by auburnstar)
My subjects are music, english lit and spanish (did French last year and got an A). I can say that English Lit fits well with it because they both involve literature questions and the mindset of English Lit is quite helpful for that. Those are all really strong essay subjects and will involve a fair bit of writing but the essays for Spanish are only 270-300 words long at most and in another language of course so I always found it a nice mental "break" from 1000 word essays.
I do like a good essay - it's a good way to pass the time! That makes me sound really nerdy doesn't it - suppose that's probably true. Thank you very much, I imagined they'd be a link between English Lit and Spanish, glad that you've confirmed that. Thank you for all the help and I wish you all the best for whatever the summer holds for you?
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