"Learning another language is not only learning different words for the same things, but learning another way to think about things." -Flora Lewis
The benefits of learning a new language cannot be emphasised enough. The road to language acquisition is not always a walk in the park, yet it is a joyous one filled with unforgettable memories. In all honesty, acquiring fluency in a foreign tongue might be one the most rewarding learning experiences you'll ever have.
After you've learnt the basics of a new language, you'll be able to understand a culture that is different from your own, enhance all travelling adventures, and be able to talk with people from different walks of life.
Everyone should go through the steps of learning a foreign tongue at least once in their lives.
With so many languages out there waiting to be learnt, over 6,000 to be precise, it may seem overwhelming to choose a foreign tongue that best suits you. Nonetheless, to make a choice a bit easier, another European language would be wise to learn for those living in the UK. Such as? French, Spanish, Italian, German, etc.
While plenty of European languages merit specific consideration and deserve to be learnt, in today's article, we shall focus on French and how students examining their GCSEs can effectively revise all the French language components necessary to pass their examinations successfully.
The Structure of the French GCSE Course
French at a GCSE level is part of the Modern Foreign Languages section and is only offered through three of the many exam boards in the United Kingdom. The AQA, Edexcel, and Eduqas are the three examination boards that offer French as one of the GCSE options. So, if your school is under their jurisdiction, you can hone your French skills during secondary education.
But how is the French GCSE course structured? What do students learn? Excellent questions! For argument's sake, we'll take a look at how the AQA organises their French course.
According to the AQA site and the always helpful references from the BBC Bitesize, students analysing French learn many important aspects to be prepared for the end of year examinations. First and foremost, the GCSE French course offered by the AQA exam board covers the following three distinct themes:
- Identity and Culture
- Local, National, International, and Global Areas of Interest
- Current and Future Study and Employment
There are many sub-themes covered in these core themes, and examiners expect students to understand and provide opinions and relevant information relating to their past experiences. Of course, they must speak using the French language when doing so.
No worries about that! Students learn lots of vocabulary and how to use it. Vocabulary examined in this French course include the following:
A part of the AQA French GCSE course is French grammar; instruction is separated into two tiers: the Foundation Tier and the Higher Tier. After completing their French classes, GCSE students are expected to have a firm understanding of French grammar.
Also, the course is structured so that students may improve in the four core concepts. The following are known as the scope of the French language study:
Check out the AQA French curriculum outline to learn more about what is expected of students as they learn these core concepts.
But how do I effectively prepare and hone my French listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills while studying the GCSEs to ensure a fantastic grade?
Keep on reading to find out more about the tips and tricks to succeed in all French language components.
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How to Revise...French Listening
The best way to develop and practise French listening skills is by immersion into the language. While that may have proven difficult for the United Kingdom citizens a few decades ago, today, it is not. The internet has made the world a global village, and we utilise the world wide web to find listening resources in the French language.
One of the best online resources for revising in French is podcasts. By listening to podcasts regularly, GCSE French learners can immerse themselves in the French tongue's sounds. The following are a few recommended podcasts:
- News in Slow French
- One Thing in French a Day
- Learn French by Podcast
- Coffee Break French
Additionally, watching Netflix shows in French with subtitles provides learners with a passive way of honing their listening skills. Music does the same. Try downloading some tunes from your favourite French musicians to listen to on your commute to school.
All in all, the key to success is simple: immerse yourself in the French language as much as you can and your listening abilities should improve enough to score well on the French GCSE examination.
How to Revise...French Speaking
As someone who has been learning French for more than two decades, I know how difficult it is to master pronunciation and improve conversation skills. However, that doesn't mean you can't excel at French-speaking. Knowing tips and tricks from experienced learners is the key to mastering speaking French.
When it comes to speaking French, practice makes perfect. Therefore, to build fluency in French, you need to get out of your comfort zone and try speaking with French natives as much as possible. You may be asking, how can that be done if I'm a student living in the UK? Easy, through online tutoring with a native French instructor.
Having weekly or daily conversations with French speakers in a judgement-free zone, you learn the nuances of spoken French, practise your listening skills at the same time, and get a chance to try out new vocabulary.
If you don't have the possibility of taking French online lessons, don't worry, there are other possibilities of practising your speaking skills. For instance, try joining a safe language exchange community where you can trade language abilities for free. Try finding a French native who wants to learn English, and you'll be golden.
If you are honing your French-speaking skills for social interactions, why not plan events with your French classmates? Try out your new vocabulary with your fellow learners by setting a rule that, whenever you speak, it must be in French. Host a 'French night' event dedicated to practising speaking skills as you enjoy French food, music and cinema.
How to Revise...French Reading
Of all the ways to learn French, reading provides learners with the most versatility. Since they have the words right in front of them, and they can slowly analyse each term until the passage is understood in its entirety.
Reading resources are the easiest to find since there are plenty of French books available at school libraries. Furthermore, many sites have e-books and articles free to download. You too can be among the GCSE French students to read French news articles to practise their reading skills!
To ensure success in the French GCSEs' reading section, we suggest reading a short article or a chapter of the book you are reading every day. Practise makes perfect.
Additionally, some past GCSE French pupils have found that purchasing the AQA or Edexcel GCSE French revision book is beneficial since various reading passages are worthy of consideration.
How to Revise...French Writing
As is the case with all the other components of the GCSE French curriculum, learners must practise their French writing every day to improve writing skills.
While, yes, it is true that you will probably struggle to have perfect grammar in your writing passages at the beginning, don't worry about that since practice makes perfect. We suggest keeping a diary and writing a short entry every day about how your day went, what you're feeling, etc.
If you're feeling insecure about your writing skills, consider showing your French writing to a fellow student, teacher, or private tutor; they will provide you with the necessary feedback to improve your grammar.
Where to Find Past Papers for the French GCSEs?
Suggested by educators all across the United Kingdom who teach many different academic disciplines, past papers are a huge help when studying for examinations. The same goes for the French GCSEs. We suggest looking at past papers to see what needs to be studied in more detail.
Where does one find past papers for the GCSEs in French? The websites of the exam boards offer French as a secondary school subject. For instance, the AQA and the Edexcel exam boards have a register of past papers in French on their site.
Another fantastic online resource for past papers is a site known as Revision World; take a look!
In conclusion, although difficult and frustrating, the opportunity to learn a foreign tongue such as French at a GCSE level is a beautiful advantage that should be taken seriously. Have fun!
Students analysing French during A-Levels can also receive helpful information by clicking this link.