French A Level

students holding up paper with french words on
Getting Ahead

French A Level at Havant Campus

This work aims to help you build on your GCSE knowledge and also strengthen your skills in the build-up to studying French at A Level. All four skills have to be nurtured and your grammar also. In view of the challenges posed by this big break in your studies, it would be great to use some of your time to thoroughly revise the key tenses covered in GCSE as well as the vocabulary from your specification. If you focus on a tense per week, you should be more comfortable when it comes to tackling tasks in September. I once heard on a training day that students who knew all the vocabulary and grammar from their GCSE syllabus could pass an A Level, so it is well worth looking back at it. French is a skill, so the more you practice, the better you will get at it!

Did you know? There are approximately 220 million French speakers in the world and it is the official language of 29 countries / French is the European Union’s fourth most widely spoken mother tongue / French graduates can earn up to 10% more than their counterparts on their starting salary / A majority of recruiters say speaking a second language gives a candidate the X Factor when applying for a job.

the bottom of the eiffel tower with traffic flowing underneath

Welcome to A Level French! This subject is fascinating, and it is great fun to study cultural aspects of French/Francophone society. Up to GCSE level, French (like all MFL) is a skill-based subject. This means that rather than content, you have been learning how to understand written and spoken French and how to communicate in written and spoken French.

At A Level, you are using these skills you have acquired during GCSE to explore Francophone cultures.

In order to prepare efficiently for the A Level requirements, you should therefore regularly expose yourself to French so you keep up your skills. Speaking is the hardest skill to practise independently so you will not be tested on this in September.

Instead, your September/October assessments in French will test your skills in reading, listening, translation and writing on short and simple unknown material. It is not expected of you to know any specific content or vocabulary from the A Level course.

To prepare efficiently for September, you need to tackle French reading and listening every week as well as consolidate your grammar.

Therefore, you should try and complete one activity per week. You will find it is taking you a step up from GCSE so do take it easy and don’t panic if you do not understand everything as it is normal at this very early stage. Focus on grasping the gist rather than all the detail. Week after week you should find this becomes easier.

Please visit the AQA A level French (Year 1) web page for further information.

Write a diary for a week of a break or holiday you recently had. You may make it as imaginative as you wish. Try to use interesting vocabulary and expressions as well as a variety of tenses.

Revise vocabulary using MEMRiSE or Quizlet.

Revise verb tenses with conjugators like Lingolia Français or YouTube videos like the following:

These social media accounts are useful to follow as they provide topical and comprehensible material to ease you into the course.

Pick one of these suggested videos/podcasts below and listen to it several times, with subtitles first (if you have any) then without, pausing it often to try and digest the gist. You will not understand every single word and that is normal.

Then try to write a short summary (50-70 words) of the article. Summarising is a new skill at A Level so it would be useful to start getting your head around it. Write the summaries in your simple GCSE vocabulary so it is written in your own words rather than copied from the articles.

It is important you are confident with GCSE grammar. This includes the different tenses, as well as agreements (nouns, articles, adjectives), using adverbs, pronouns, and some more complex structures (if clauses, qui/que clauses, subjunctive).

To boost your confidence, you may want to use the grammar pages of whichever GCSE textbook you are used to or your grammar booklet from your teacher. However, for a more interactive and thorough practice, please pick one of these suggested websites and work on at least one tense and one other language point per week.

  • Read in French regularly. You could use newspapers such as 20 minutes.
  • You should also become a fan of some famous French speaking personalities and follow them on social media – search here.
  • 1jour1actu provides brilliant resources for both reading and listening. Pick one of these suggested articles and read it through trying to understand the gist. You will not understand every single word and that is normal. When there is one you can, complete the interactive quiz at the end to check your understanding.
  • Click on the words below to read the article and then try to write a short summary (50-70 words) of the article. Summarising is a new skill at A Level so it would be useful to start getting your head around it. Write the summaries in your simple GCSE vocabulary so it is written in your own words rather than copied from the articles.
  • The day provides excellent translations of English articles in French. Pick one of these suggested articles and read it through trying to understand the gist (some useful vocab is provided at the end). Then try to translate a passage into English, and check your work by clicking the “simplified English version” option at the top.

French films and series are available online through French channel Apps or Netflix as well as some British TV channels (Soda, 10%, engrenages, Les disparus du lac). Some of the thrillers are quite gritty so check comments before watching.

For news, there are many channels available, but we tend to use France 24 and France into TV. Try to watch some videos daily with subtitles.

For music, you have YouTube videos. You could choose songs in the French charts and learn some lyrics with the online practice site Lyricstraining.

  • The great thing about studying French is that you make progress without realising it; you are just exposed to the language so much that you get better without it feeling like hard work.
  • The most intimidating is speaking, and how much more spontaneous and opinionated you have to be at A Level. Reading and listening around the topics definitely helps boost your confidence.
  • I wish I had brushed up on my grammar before starting the A Level course as it would have been easier to focus on the new content if I had been secure on my tenses already.
  • Listening is definitely the hardest skill, so get as much practice as you can early on to get used to the quick pace.
  • It is nice to have class discussions and debates as it doesn’t feel like a traditional lesson; it is more relaxed and you can make the most of it to ask questions and help each other.
  • The one thing I didn’t realise at first was the importance of knowing some facts around the topics, so following Hugo Décrypte on Instagram was a massive help to improve my cultural knowledge.
*This is a representation of your learning space and may not be the exact room you will be using

My time at the college was definitely life changing, I have learnt a lot of new skills, and obviously it’s a completely new experience. The support was great, there was always people there to help and try make it as easy as they can for you. The college is really fantastic, it has helped me on the way to get to what I want to achieve within my career goals.

Erin Morgan, BTEC student

My experience at the College was great, it’s very different to school, and I think it’s a good step to going to university. The support was amazing, I loved all of my teachers, they helped me through everything. The College is friendly and you will succeed.

Heidi Adamson Brattland, A Level student

You take control of your own learning…the college were really helpful and always willing to do anything and go that extra step to help me get my grades.

Scarlette Tiller, A Level student