"With languages, you can move from one social situation to another. With languages, you are at home anywhere." -Edmund De Waal
Do you like meeting new people? Do you have a constant desire to speak with individuals who communicate in a language different from yours? Do you want to have more fulfilling travel experiences? If so, you need to learn a foreign tongue ASAP!
Not only is the process of learning a foreign language good for the brain and a positive learning experience, but it also teaches you a lot about yourself and the place you hold in this big world. Learning a new language keeps you humble and makes you have much more compassion for the millions of individuals struggling to learn English.
However, with so many foreign tongues that could be learnt, it may be hard to pick only one. To make the process easier, if you are a secondary school student, consider learning one of the languages offered at your school. For example, most exam boards have structured curriculums for Spanish, French, and German languages in the UK. So, if your school has one of these options, go for it!
In today's article, we shall focus our attention on providing revision advice for students who have chosen the French language at the A or AS Level. Allons-y! (FYI, that's French for let's go!)
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How is the A and AS Level French Course Structured
Of the five examination boards that provide exams across the United Kingdom, four offer students the option to study French at A-Levels.
How is the French A-Level course structured? What can students who want to learn French expect? Thankfully, the examination boards provide potential students with a course overview and specifications at a glance.
The AQA exam board's French A-Level course is quite extensive and builds on the knowledge a student acquired during the GCSEs. The French A-Level is linear, which means that the examination is taken at the end after gaining the necessary skills.
The core content of subjects that A-Level French students can expect has to do with social issues and trends, political and artistic culture, and, last but not least, grammar. Pupils also can select an optional course known as Works of Literature and Films in the target language.
All of the core content materials and homework are designed to help A-Level French students focus on the French language, culture, and society, and gain transferrable skills such as communication, critical thinking, research skills, and creativity.
As is the case with most A-Level subjects, the French curriculum was designed to be studied across two years, when students are 16 to 18 years old.
How is the A-Level French course assessed? According to the guidelines of the AQA, which are similar to other examination boards, there are three papers that all students must complete. The following outlines the details of each segment:
- Paper 1, Listening, Reading, and Writing: in this section, aspects of the French-speaking society such as trends, artistic culture, and aspects of political life are analysed by students. Listening and responding to spoken passages is the task; this is a 2.5 hour written exam, and it is worth 50% of the entire A-Level.
- Paper 2, Writing: during this segment, students' writing skills are tested. They must respond to a set text, and they are assessed on their grammar—worth 20% of the entire French A-Level grade.
- Paper 3, Speaking: probably the most nerve-wracking, students must converse in the French language about something that has to do with current trends and artistic culture, etc. The oral exam is 21-23 minutes long, and students have 5 minutes to gather their thoughts beforehand. Paper 3 counts for 30% of the entire French A-Level test.
Knowing how the A-Level French assessment and coursework is structured, students know what to prepare for ahead of time. Let's take a look at some helpful tips to review in the following subheading successfully.
Improving Your Revision Skills on the A-Level French Primary Components
Careful revision is the key to success. Whether you are studying physics or history, you need to acquire the habit of reviewing information during study sessions to get good marks.
What if you don't know what to review? Have no fear, Superprof is here to provide helpful tips and tricks for UK-based pupils studying French at A-Levels!
Tips to Improve French Listening
If you've already sat the GCSEs in French, you know how important it is to immerse yourself in the French language to improve your listening skills. Immersion doesn't mean moving to a foreign land where the target language is spoken. It simply means making a conscious effort to have French around you regularly.
Many French learners have found that listening to French music and podcasts, and watching movies and tv shows in French throughout the day has dramatically improved their overall comprehension of France's mother tongue.
Some popular podcasts to listen to include the following:
- Coffee Break French
- Parlez Away
- French en Route
- One Thing in a French Day
Also, a few Netflix shows produced in French might be quite beneficial to your learning process. Consider the following options:
- Le Chalet
- Dix Pour Cent
If these tv shows don't pique your interest and you want to keep watching your favourite non-French show, we recommend using the Google Chrome extension called "Language Learning with Netflix", which makes studying languages passively much more enjoyable than previously anticipated.
The objective is simple, fill your life with as many opportunities as possible to listen to French, and you will improve.
Effective Tricks to Become Better at French Reading
Do you have a hard time picking up a book and reading it in its entirety in your native language? If so, you're not alone; plenty feel that way. Nonetheless, reading is an essential component of the French A-Levels. Practising reading doesn't have to be boring, though.
Instead of feeling overwhelmed by the size of a French novel with its complex vocabulary, consider reading news articles and short stories. Studies show that, when honing reading skills, it's the quality, not the quantity that matters. Some have found that even reading their favourite children's stories translated into French has helped improve their skills.
The following are a few websites to find useful resources to improve reading skills in French:
- Find e-books of Guy de Maupassant
- The French Experiment
By reading a little bit of French every day and taking the time to understand each new word, you'll pass your A-Level French test brilliantly!
How to Revise French Writing More Effectively
As a blog writer, I have seen my writing skills improve over time. I feel a lot more comfortable now than I did when I first started three years ago. Why's that? Well, because practice makes perfect!
The same can be said about A-Level students completing the French curriculum. Aspiring French speakers hone their writing skills by taking the time to write in French as much as possible.
We're not saying that you need to write lengthy articles regularly to improve your writing skills. Instead, just write a short diary entry every day. About what? The following are a few things you can write about in your diary entries:
- daily activities
- dreams and aspirations
- future goals
- anxieties and stresses
To effectively review and make sure that you are actually improving your writing skills, we recommend showing your diary entries to a trusted friend who is also learning French, your teacher, or a private tutor.
Getting Better at French Speaking Skills
Of all the core concepts we have discussed, speaking is often the most challenging and stressful for students. It requires confidence and the application of everything learnt. You must piece together the French vocabulary and grammar you've been studying to make yourself understood.
The best way to improve speaking skills in French is by talking as much as you can. Don't miss out on any opportunities to practise conversing with native speakers or friends from your A-Level French class. Many students have found benefit in creating Whatsapp groups amongst themselves to encourage each other to speak French.
Also, set a goal of never speaking English during French class, no matter how bad your pronunciation is or how difficult it is to remember specific words.
Find a personal French tutor to practice conversation skills and regularly review your progress. Native tutors will correct your pronunciation and grammar while encouraging you to keep speaking French. Hire a Superprof French tutor that specialises in reviewing the A-Levels with students. Superprof tutors teach online or in-person; the choice is yours!
Supposing you don't have the possibility of hiring a private tutor, consider joining a language exchange community such as Tandem. You're bound to find many native French speakers who want to learn English! A mutual exchange of language skills is very advantageous to both parties. Just remember to be safe and consult with your parents before selecting a language exchange partner.
In conclusion, we are confident that the information in today's article can help French A-Level students review for their upcoming examinations.
By the way, many A-Level students have found that taking a look at past papers has proven to be effective when studying for French examinations, too.