Studying a Foreign Language at Key Stage 5
Many students will consider taking a language course at this level because they have enjoyed learning one or more languages, or perhaps they will have achieved a very good result at GCSE level and will be looking to replicate that success. The study of a language at Key Stage 5 can benefit students in a number of ways and for those who decide to further their knowledge and language skills the potential rewards are considerable.
There are many reasons for further study in European languages, among them
- Jobs! Many employers appreciate the fact that applicants have mastered a second language at a more advanced level. With much of Britain’s trade now being done within the European Community, many people at work (and not just specialist linguists) are finding they need to put their skills into practice. Businesses often pay higher salaries to employees who can phone or fax a firm abroad, book hotel accommodation for the boss’ trip to Paris, read an order from a German client or a press release from a Belgian competitor. Language skills give you the edge in a very competitive employment market.
- Holidays! French speaking countries are among the most popular holiday destinations. Trips abroad can be much more fun if you use your language skills.
- Communication! There are 77 million people who speak French and 100 million who speak German as their mother tongue.
- Satisfaction! There is a lot of pleasure to be gained from making friends and contacts across the language barrier.
- Insight! Studying another language and culture in depth broadens your horizons and provides an understanding of how other people live. You also learn a great deal about yourself.
- Learning to learn! You may well have to learn another language in the course of your working life. Through further study of a foreign language you will acquire advanced dictionary skills and a more thorough understanding of how your own and other languages work.
Students prepare for the new AQA 'AS' and ‘A’ level examinations in French or German.
The AS course will cover Media (e.g. TV, the internet), Popular culture (e.g. cinema, music and fashion), Healthy living (e.g. exercise, health and holidays), and Family (e.g relationships within the family, friendships and marriage).
The AS examination has 2 units:
- Unit 1: Listening, Reading and Writing (2 hours) counting for 70% of total AS marks (35% of total A Level marks). Candidates will answer a range of questions based on approximately 5 minutes of heard material and on a selection of written stimulus texts. They will also respond in writing to a question based on one of the AS topics. They will have control of the listening material and be able to listen as many times as they wish.
- Unit 2: Speaking. (35 minutes, including 20 minutes preparation time) counting for 30% of the total AS marks (15% of the total A Level marks). Candidates will discuss a stimulus card based on one of the AS topics and take part in a conversation covering three further AS topics.
To achieve a full A level, candidates must also pass the two A2 modules. The topics covered are: The Environment (e.g. pollution, energy), The Multi-Cultural Society (e.g. immigration and racism), Contemporary Social Issues (wealth and poverty, law and order and technological progress) and a Cultural Topic: the study of a region, a period of history, an artist (e.g. a writer, a film director, an architect, a musician or a painter) from the French or German speaking world.
The A2 course has 2 units:
- Unit 3: Listening, Reading and Writing (2 hours and 30 minutes) counting for 35% of the total A Level marks. This will be similar to Unit 1, but more challenging! The writing task will be based on one of the Cultural Topics.
- Unit 4: Speaking (35 minutes, including 20 minutes preparation time) counting for 15% of the total A Level marks. Candidates will present a point of view based on one of the A2 topic areas and take part in a conversation covering three further areas.
FRENCH: A DISTINCT ADVANTAGE
‘A’ level French and ‘AS’ level French
Les méthodes ont changé
Preparing for a French A level no longer consists of plodding through interminable grammar exercises and badly chosen literary translations.
Getting to grips with French grammar is just as difficult as it ever was. But we try to make the whole process much more stimulating by starting with authentic texts (for instance from television or the press) and teaching the grammar that is necessary to understand or comment on the text. Short translation passages are occasionally used to evaluate students. But a much wider range of authentic tasks is now used. The student may, for instance, have to explain an English newspaper article to a French colleague.
Learning vocabulary is every bit as important as it ever was, but learning lists of words is pointless unless the list relates to the task the student is doing. We remember words most effectively when we learn them in context.
French used to be thought of as a very bookish subject at A level. It has now broadened its horizons to cater for a much wider range of interests. We try to keep the course as up to date as possible. Next year’s students can fully expect topics such as French reactions to the war in Iraq or misuse of the internet.
Technological innovations such as photocopiers, computers, tape recorders and satellite TV have not only enabled teachers to produce more exciting and varied courses, they have also given students more freedom of choice and more independence. For instance, students spend a lot of private study time working with audio or video tapes.
We like our students to gain as much practical experience of the language as possible. A level students see the French assistant, in small groups or individually, for at least one hour per week. Each year every effort is made to organise a visit to France where students can put into practice the language they have learnt.
Le mot de la fin
There’s no easy way to advanced language skills but acquiring them can be satisfying and interesting. The rewards are great for those who meet the challenge.
GERMAN: „LERNEN IST ANSPRUCHSVOLL ABER MACHT AUCH SPAß“
‘A’ level German and ‘AS’ level German
AS and A level language lessons introduce students to new language in a variety of different contexts. Texts, games, DVDs, music, films, the Internet and the course book all provide starting points for expanding students’ linguistic and cultural knowledge across a range of topics.
A firm grasp of German grammar and a broad knowledge of vocabulary remain central to examination success. Students will be required to supplement their work in lesson time with independent study at home and will be encouraged to develop and pursue their own interests and enthusiasms through the medium of German. This is crucial if access is to be gained to the higher grades. Students will be expected to commit time regularly to learning both topic vocabulary and key phrases in preparation for their examinations.
It is hoped that students will find the topics studied at AS and A level both relevant and engaging and students will be expected to show interest and be prepared to offer opinions across the themes covered in the course. Students will be expected to take every opportunity to practise their German both in and beyond the classroom and to use the internet to maintain an up to date knowledge of the main issues currently affecting German society. To this end teachers may recommend websites, live streaming news broadcasts and material available on DVDs.
We like our students to gain as much practical experience of the language as possible. A level students see the German assistant, in small groups or individually, for at least one hour per week which provides an excellent opportunity to perfect their pronunciation and gain a direct insight into the modern German speaking world. Each year every effort is made to organise a visit to Germany where students can put into practice the language they have learnt.