The Student Room Group

A Level Languages: how realistic is to get an A star if you are not a native speaker

The only A stars I have seen for French come from bilinguals and hard working cultures such as the Korean. There is a chasm between A stars demanded by top universities and getting them by non-natives. I can see that the sample papers have been written by natives, so why do we go through this farce of pretending that non-natives will get an A star (except extremely rare students of which I have seen none). A stars from a state school in French (or German): might as well go looking for snakes in Ireland. Spanish or Portuguese might escape, because of the huge number of (not particularly literate, but quand meme) native speakers of bilinguals in urban settings. I am ruling out Lycee Francais et al.
Original post by Voxdei
The only A stars I have seen for French come from bilinguals and hard working cultures such as the Korean. There is a chasm between A stars demanded by top universities and getting them by non-natives. I can see that the sample papers have been written by natives, so why do we go through this farce of pretending that non-natives will get an A star (except extremely rare students of which I have seen none). A stars from a state school in French (or German): might as well go looking for snakes in Ireland. Spanish or Portuguese might escape, because of the huge number of (not particularly literate, but quand meme) native speakers of bilinguals in urban settings. I am ruling out Lycee Francais et al.
It is hard to achieve an A* as a non-native. The A grade boundary has recently soared to between the mid 80s and low 90s. Therefore, one can realistically only afford to lose minimal marks and as a non-native, it would be hard to achieve nearly full marks across all the sections. Nevertheless, it is possible; there are many who are still able to get A*s purely based off the extra effort they put in.
(edited 1 month ago)
Reply 2
So what are schools doing? I ask about the students' libraries at state schools: apparently non-existent. As for hard work, it seems to me that the notion of swiftly xeroxing new material is anathema to them - or doing extra practice papers on their own ("oh I did not see them"). Even top students from academic public schools are not exempted. This would be all fine and well, but because of a misguided social engineering drive, some of these people are being offered Oxbridge places. Only those who depart from a cognate language (say Italian into French or Spanish or viceversa) can perhaps on a good day get an A star. Then they complain that MFLs at uni are folding up. Of course the clever way is to apply to go on an obscure language and then switch once there (Oxbridge strategy). There are no points for trying and this is not "they all get prizes" situation. Or perhaps they do.
Original post by Voxdei
The only A stars I have seen for French come from bilinguals and hard working cultures such as the Korean. There is a chasm between A stars demanded by top universities and getting them by non-natives. I can see that the sample papers have been written by natives, so why do we go through this farce of pretending that non-natives will get an A star (except extremely rare students of which I have seen none). A stars from a state school in French (or German): might as well go looking for snakes in Ireland. Spanish or Portuguese might escape, because of the huge number of (not particularly literate, but quand meme) native speakers of bilinguals in urban settings. I am ruling out Lycee Francais et al.

I got an A* in Spanish and an A in French and currently do both at uni alongside Portuguese.
Reply 4
I’m applying to Cambridge for French and they only require an A in French A level not an A*. That seems to be the same for all the unis that are ranked highly for languages including Oxford and UCL. If you get an A for your French S level you should pat yourself on the back and not denigrate yourself. Hope this helps.
Reply 5
Original post by eis20
I’m applying to Cambridge for French and they only require an A in French A level not an A*. That seems to be the same for all the unis that are ranked highly for languages including Oxford and UCL. If you get an A for your French S level you should pat yourself on the back and not denigrate yourself. Hope this helps.

I am only reporting from the horse's mouth. Which these days, seems to be every student I come across being offered a place for Cambridge (so much so that private school students keep well clear from applying to Cambridge in full knowledge they will be rejected). The problem with these students that while they can by-pass the A star in French, in my opinion they will never get an A star in the other two A levels (just the way they don't seem to work hard enough and go the extra mile).
I do A-Level Spanish and am a native speaker and I’d deffo say me and the other native speakers perform worse than the other students because we take it as an easy A, whereas the others truly like and enjoy learning languages and dedicate time to learning if that makes sense? The non-native students dedicate lots of time to learning the tenses, content and idioms which the natives don’t both because we’re used to the language (and it makes us sloppy with our mistakes. You mention they do super well in the language but don’t do aswell in their other lessons but from what I’ve seen, the students in my class are dedicated learners, so they are getting consistently good grades in all their subjects!

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