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Year 13 French

New AQA specification – first examination in June 2018

Guidance for Parents

What will students be studying in French this year?

2018 will be the first examination year of the new A2 specifications for Modern Languages.  As the course is linear, everything the students have covered in Year 12 will form part of the A2 exam (the AS topics are: aspects of French speaking society and artistic culture in the French speaking world), together with the new topics of “Aspects of French speaking society: current issues” and “Aspects of political life in the French speaking world”.  To support students, we have subscribed to the new Kerboodle digital learning package which underpins the new exam so that all students have access to a digital textbook and a range of interactive learning activities. This is a vital resource in developing student learning and contains a wealth of useful information and activities. 

In language terms, students will build on the linguistic knowledge acquired in Year 12 and the A2 course will allow students to further develop their proficiency in all four skill areas - speaking, listening, reading and writing. It is essential therefore that grammatical understanding is sound. At this level they will need not only to use their language skills but also to be able to research Francophone society and the French speaking world in order to respond to written and aural stimuli. This is a new but important and enriching part of the course and recording relevant information on a regular basis will stand the students in good stead, particularly for their oral exam. Students will, both in speech and in writing, need to analyse and evaluate, summarise from written and aural stimuli, present viewpoints and develop arguments and will also translate both to and from the language, using a stimulus text.  

Film studies and the analysis of a literary text form the basis of Paper 2, where students study one target language film (“La Haine”) and one text (Delphine de Vigan, No et moi).  French essays at this level could be about themes, techniques, characters, relationships and topics featured in the film and literary text studied. These essays differ from AS in the depth of analysis, the extent of background knowledge of context and techniques and of the quality of language. The film studied in the first year of the course will therefore be re-examined during the course of the year to enable the development of this deeper understanding.

In terms of the exam, the new AQA specification is divided as follows: Paper 1, Listening, Reading and Writing (including translation) accounts for 50% of the marks, while the Writing paper (Paper 2) accounts for 20% and the oral (Paper 3), the remaining 30%.  The oral exam comprises a topic related discussion card and a presentation and discussion of an individual research project (IRP) prepared by the student. This is a challenging but exciting exercise for the student as s/he has a great deal of choice over their chosen topic and AQA is very clear that the teacher’s role in the IRP is limited, as is that of the language assistant (the IRP certainly may not be marked or corrected by any staff member).  

Expectations of students in French

Year 13 students are expected to have developed the ability to manage their time effectively and to have good learning practices as well as a sound grammatical basis. They need to make sure that they not only keep up with homework set by their class teachers and the language assistant but they must also find enough time to make sure that they are keeping up to date with the news in the French speaking world and maintaining their log of culturally relevant information (as mentioned above) and of course, working to consolidate and develop further their use and understanding of grammar and topic specific vocabulary. In addition, students will be set work each week to be carried out in their additional, untaught lesson. This is an integral part of their studies and work is expected to be carried out as directed.

What are the major assessments this year?

Students will be set written pieces to complete most weeks, which will include grammar and vocabulary exercises, reading and listening comprehension exercises, on paper or on line, summary writing, research work, translation passages and essay writing or preparatory tasks. Regular grammar and vocabulary tests will also be set throughout the year. The mock exam will take place in January but there may be further formative assessment throughout the year and there will be opportunities to review sample papers and student work as there are no past papers yet available.

Students will start to research their individual research project seriously from the autumn half term onwards and will be expected to discuss progress with a nominated member of staff and will have a full mock oral in February.

What should my daughter/son do if she feels s/he is struggling in the subject?

In the first instance, s/he should speak to her subject teacher(s). Once we have ascertained why s/he is struggling and in which areas, we will be able to put together a personalised and manageable support package.

How can I support my daughter/son in Year 13?

As most parents do not have specialist subject knowledge in MFL, it is not always easy for parents to provide targeted support.  However, the new Kerboodle digital learning package which supports the new exam is an extremely useful resource and students should be encouraged to make full use of it.  Students are recommended to buy the text book, AQA A Level Year 2 French,  Publisher: OUP,  ISBN: 9780198366850 and the publication Mot à Mot is also a useful resource. It is not really necessary for parents to buy materials as nearly everything required is available on the Internet – as well as Kerboodle, Zut.org.uk and languages online are particularly beneficial. It is important to make sure you listen to your daughter/son and ask her/him how s/he is getting on.  Any issues should be addressed as soon as possible so if you have any concerns, please feel free to contact us.

What kind of independent work should my daughter/son be doing?

There are a whole host of things your daughter/son can do to develop her/his language skills as outlined above but in addition it will be of assistance to: read French newspapers online, listen to French news websites (e.g. the Channel Tf1 offers news “en français facile”), songs and video clips, watch DVDs from our extensive film library, use Kerboodle and vocabulary building websites to learn vocabulary and consolidate grammar regularly. Independent learning is the key to doing well in this subject and all the evidence confirms that students who are effective independent learners achieve their target grades.

Who can I contact for further advice and information?

Please feel free to contact the French department under ecasey@newsteadwood.co.uk and eballaster@newsteadwood.co.uk

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