Background information about studying Spanish
How will it differ from GCSE?
More independent study is required - read, speak and write as much as you can. online spanish newspapers are a good way of reading 'formal' spanish.
It depends from person to person. There is lots of grammar to learn, though I do find sometimes it's a bit mathematical in some ways, lots of rules, but learn the rules to play to game.
Required Individual Study
How is it assessed?
For the AQA exam board there are four papers; two at AS and two at A2. Each level has a written paper and a speaking test attached to it, with the speaking test given 30% of that year's marks (so for A2 it would count as 15% of the final A Level). The writing test is worth 70% of the total marks for the level (so at A2 you're looking at 35% of your final grade). The AS exam can be sat in January and June so it might be a good idea to resit it during the January modules - however, the A2 paper can only be sat in the June.
The AS papers will cover twelve topics, divided into four sub-topics as listed below.
Media & Communication: Television, Communication Technology, Advertising
Popular Culture: Music, Cinema, Fashion/trends
Family/Relationships: Relationships within the family, Friendships, Marriage/Partnerships/Divorce
Healthy Living/ Lifestyle: Health and well-being, Holidays, Sport/exercise
In the writing test, the majority of topics will be covered throughout the listening and reading sections using topic-specific vocabulary. For the writing section, three of the twelve topics will be selected for the subject of an essay (minimum 200 words) and you select one of the essays to write. It's best to pick the topic you feel most confident about, rather than the topic that seems to be a more weighty debate. For example, don't pick health as an essay subject if you hardly know it, but think it's the 'best' one to write - you could instead pick a topic you feel more capable in, such as music.
For the speaking test, you will be given two cards as the subject of your roleplay.
Like the AS exam there are four major topics, but there are only eleven topics in comparison to twelve:
"Environment": Protecting the Planet, Pollution & Conservation, Energy Problems,
"Multicultural Society": Racism, Immigration, Integration,
"Social Issues": Law & Order, Wealth & Poverty, Scientific Advances,
"Cultural Topics" This is different to the other three areas for topics: there is a selection of five areas and you pick two to study (NB: All are aimed at areas where the target language is one of the main languages spoken. Examples are given below.)
Region (eg. Barcelona), Poet/Playwright (eg. Lorca), Period of 21st century history (eg. Dictatorship of Franco), Author (eg. Gabriel García Marquez), Artist/Architect/Director... (eg. Almodóvar),
None in AS Edexcel.
None - unless you count the speaking exam.
Field trips and excursions
Spain and South America are the obvious choices - Erasmus usually offer a short work experience exchange to Spain, as well as any internal trips (probably exchanges).
Where can I go with a Spanish A-Level
To sunny Spain! Or any other Spanish speaking country.
What I like about studying this subject: Great subject, can always learn and improve your language skills. I get half an hour a week, shared with another girl, with a speaking assistant, not my usual teacher, who is really helpful and really has helped my spanish speaking skills. If you don't get this opportunity at school, try to find someone who is a native speaker or who has excellent command of the language, and practise speaking! it really helps. Another tip I wish I had done is constantly review language and grammar, every week, even every day. Do NOT leave it til the exams are close! it won't work. Also, Spain is a popular country to visit on holiday, so nice to be able to converse with locals.
What I dislike about studying this subject: My teacher isn't great, she rushes a lot, and her English isn't amazing so communication can be difficult. There is lots to learn, vocab and grammar. The speaking exam can be hard, as they can ask you anything from your opinion on the money spent on advertising, to what are the main causes of divorce, to how can we return from a holiday in good physical condition!! Yes, you get the idea.
What I like about studying this subject: It's refreshing, challenging, and also unique in a sense as you come to lessons learning something completely new to you. As for me, I've been brought up since birth learning the language, and having a background of the culture really helps as well. Its challenging because you're usually put on the stop, for example in speaking sessions and the exam, and you have to remember certain phrases or words in an instance. Spanish provides you with many other day to day skills that are valued by anyone, not just employers such as communication, team work, and also improves your writing skills, especially grammar and forming paragraphs. A great choice for anyone wanting to be challenged in a unique way.
What I dislike about studying this subject: LOTS and LOTS of grammar and tenses to be learned. Even though I have the language in my blood (no, I don't have random Spanish tense tables flowing in my bloodstream :(), I was still surprised when I found out around GCSE exam time that Spanish has many more tenses than English, and I knew that ALL of them were going to be have to be known for the A Level exam :(. The only way to improve at learning the tenses, is to by constantly revising them, practice and practice and eventually you will make perfect. There seems to be a heavy workload as well, but that's not unusual of an art subject. Keep ahead on work, and constantly practice the topics or parts of grammar that you are not 100% happy with. If you don't know something, the coincidence will be that it comes up in one of the exams, and even worse if it comes up in the speaking, then, you'll be in the moment of utter silence and will drop significant marks.
What I like about studying this subject: It's incredibly satisfying when you are able to communicate with someone speaking a different language to you, or at least it is for me! The Edexcel AS exam is quite condensed, one speaking exam of about ten minutes and one big listening, reading and writing exam that lasts two and half hours. That sounds horrendous but I prefer getting it all over with in one go. I also have half an hour a week with a native speaker, and that one-on-one time can be invaluable if you're in a big class (though I wasn't - only six people in my year took it). I also have a really great teacher, but if you don't you can do a lot of independent study at home and still do well so don't let that put you off! Languages are also really highly prized at uni and by workplaces.
What I dislike about studying this subject: I loved GCSE Spanish and found it relatively easy, but A Level is very different. In GCSE you could get away with memorising a couple of set phrases and single words in the correct tense, but in A Level you really do have to know your tenses and irregular verbs. It seems obvious I know, but it's surprising difficult to get to the stage where you can know them instantly. Not mixing tenses up with each other is also a bit of a nightmare! The workload is the biggest of all my subjects by far but it can be very rewarding.
What I like about studying this subject: I love languages and I do A Level French aswell. I got A*'s at GCSE in both and i get a lot of support from my school as i'm the only one in our sixth form doing languages! I love the content of the course, yes obviously it can be very challenging especially when you have to fit complex phrases and imperfect subjunctives into spontaneous conversation but i love the feeling that you know you have communicated with your teacher and a real Native would understand you. People overlook languages when considering a levels, but us few who choose them will open unknown doors and be highly successful!
What I dislike about studying this subject: I love most aspects of languages, however 'como ya he dicho' i find it challenging to use complex phrases in conversation, but the rest is great