Choosing your A level subjects is always a big decision which requires a lot of thought about the future.
Taking an A level in French is a great option for anyone who wants to pursue a career in an international company, study a joint honours degree at university or simply immerse themselves in the culture of France and other French-speaking countries.
There are lots of advantages to holding an A level qualification in the French language.
For example, not only will you be able to communicate in a second language which happens to be one of the world’s most widely-spoken languages, you will also become more employable as language qualifications showcase your linguistic abilities and attest to your interest in global issues – and both of these things are highly valued by employers.
So, if you’re a sixth form or college student about to sit your AS or A level exams and want some tips of effective revision methods for each part of your French exam so that you can feel confident on exam day, Superprof is here to guide you!
During your A level French course, you will cover a range of topics from beginner to intermediate to having a high level of proficiency in the language.
These typically include subjects with a wide discussion around them and which will, therefore, help you to fully demonstrate your French skills when discussing them in both speaking and writing.
Examples of the topics covered at A level include cybersecurity, diversity in society, the treatment of criminals and politics – so there’s plenty to be discussed!
Although you may have chosen to study A level French because you want to improve your language skills, you need to remember that simply speaking good conversational French will not tick boxes when it comes to sitting exams.
Examiners prescribe a wide range of controversial topics in order to give candidates a good chance to expand their vocabulary and to get used to debating in fluent French.
The key to exam success in A level French is to get to know your topics inside out and back-to-front.
This means learning the key vocabulary for each topic as well as the debates and discussions around it.
The French textbooks provided by exam boards are the best port of call when it comes to finding out what they want to see in your exam answers, as they provide vocab lists and other resources which are relevant to each topic.
Another great way to get stuck into your topics is to find news articles which are directly related to them. Doing this will show examiners that you have a genuine interest in the topic and give you more to talk about in your exam responses than the resources provided by the exam board alone.
The topics you will study as you work towards your AS and A level French qualifications are chosen because of their controversial nature. This is because highly debatable topics increase the chances of a meaningful discussion in which you can use your French language skills to the best of your ability.
A level French teachers and students everywhere recommend that students create and memorise tables of avantages and inconvénients (advantages and disadvantages) for each topic studied.
This means that when you are presented with a question on a certain topic or are asked to argue one side or another, you are equipped with the necessary knowledge and vocabulary to produce a good response to the question, regardless of your personal stance on the subject.
Good revision techniques are vital ¦ source: Visualhunt
Creating flashcards around the advantages and disadvantages of an issue is a great way to revise for speaking exams in particular, as it means that you will have a stock of ideas when asked about a certain subject – even if they’re only simple, you can develop them later on.
Once you’ve got the hang on the avantages and inconvénients related to each topic, you’ll be able to focus on how you present them in terms of grammatical structures and vocabulary to achieve academic success in your A level French!
Learning a wide range of vocabulary is a key part of learning any language.
Expanding your vocabulary will give you the means to express yourself the way you want to, without being restricted by your lack of knowledge, as well as opening up opportunities to discuss all kinds of topics and improve your comprehension skills – however wild they may be!
A wide vocabulary will help you on your way to becoming an advanced French speaker and improve your listening comprehension.
But what is the best way to learn more French vocabulary? And how do you make sure that you don’t forget it?
When studying at AS and A level, students use a range of learning methods to learn and remember key vocab and phrases. While some approaches may suit one individual more than another, one piece of advice which suits everyone, regardless of revision method, is to keep it interesting!
Having a bit of fun while you learn will only motivate you to keep going and push yourself further in your learning.
So, what are some interesting ways that you can expand your French vocabulary?
Fluency in spoken French is what sets apart GCSE French students from A level students.
In A level speaking exams, examiners are not only looking for a wide range of vocabulary and a sound understanding of the issues raised, they are also looking for a high level of fluency.
At this stage in your study of French, you should be aiming towards a near-native level of pronunciation and fluency. Of course, you may still hesitate in your speaking or be stuck for ideas – but that’s okay! As long as you “think” in French, saying euh instead of erm, your speech will sound more natural and fluent overall.
The key to achieving fluency in French is to get as much practice as you possibly can both inside and outside the classroom.
This means surrounding yourself with the French language in the form of sound (such as watching French TV shows and listening to French radio stations), sight (reading French newspapers such as Le Monde) and conversations (speaking as much French as you can with your classmates as well as native speakers).
You’ll find that your pronunciation will improve as you become more fluent in your speaking – but you have to put in the practice!
One strange but effective old trick to improve your French speaking skills is to talk to yourself in French.
Even practising your French skills while pegging out the washing will help! ¦ source: Visualhunt
You might feel slightly odd at first, but it won’t take long for you to feel more comfortable in French conversation and debate situations once you start doing this.
If you want to target your revision for a specific purpose, tackling the questions which have already been used in past exam papers is the best way to find out what kind of questions the examiners might ask in the real thing.
A level French past papers from all of the main exam boards can be accessed online along with their mark schemes.
By attempting questions at home and marking papers for yourself, you will easily be able to identify the areas you need to work on – and if you’re struggling to understand why an answer is incorrect, you can always approach your French teacher to explain it.
Aside from helping you get to know the format of the exam, past papers can help you be more confident for the real thing. If you’ve completed several other papers in preparation for the real thing, what’s so bad about doing one more?