French (AQA)

A level French looks at francophone culture, society, literature, film and current affairs. You will develop the skills required by a linguist at advanced level and will learn to bring ideas, opinions and knowledge of current affairs to the classroom. We develop listening, reading, writing and speaking skills to a high standard of fluency and accuracy through interactive, discursive and analytical lessons. You will have the exciting opportunity to study one French-language film and one French-language novel during the two-year course and conduct an independent research project on a topic of your choosing (linked in some way to francophone culture or society) during the second year of the course. Recently, students have researched topics as varied as Coco Chanel; Marine Lepen; the impact of French rule on its former colonies in Indochina; and the depiction of the suburbs in the film Les Misérables (2017).

Teaching is divided between two members of staff who share eight teaching periods with at least one of these lessons scheduled in our Language Learning Centre for the development of speaking and listening skills, the exploration of cultural elements and for carrying out independent research. In addition, our French Assistant will see you once per week as part of a small group to work on speaking skills; this has an invaluable impact on our students’ fluency and confidence and enables them to become confident speakers. Our Library holds a large stock of French-language novels, plays, poetry, DVDs, magazines and newspapers. The department’s large library of French language films can also be accessed via planet eStream.

Topics studied

Year 1 topics

Aspects of French-speaking society: current trends

  • The changing nature of family
  • ‘Cyber-society’
  • The place of voluntary work

Artistic culture in the French-speaking world

  • A culture proud of its heritage
  • Contemporary francophone music
  • Cinema: the seventh art

Year 2 topics

Aspects of French-speaking society: current issues

  • The positive features of a diverse society
  • Life for the marginalised
  • How criminals are treated

Aspects of political life in the French-speaking world

  • Teenagers, the right to vote and political commitment
  • Demonstrations, strikes – who holds the power?
  • Politics and immigration

Paper 1 assesses grammar, listening, reading, translation and writing skills across all A level topic areas. This is a written examination which is worth 50% of the A level. Paper 2 assesses the set film and the set novel studied during the course. Two essays are written in French and this paper is worth 20% of the A level. Paper 3 assesses speaking skills and the Independent Research Project. This is a speaking examination which is worth 30% of the A level.

“Through learning French at A level I have learnt valuable language skills which I can take with me into future education or job opportunities. In particular, I have enjoyed topics such as young peoples’ political involvement and the changing family structures in France.”
“While some parts seem daunting to begin with, as the course goes on there’s a certain satisfaction to conquering each skill that I’m really proud of.”
“Our trip to Paris was a great opportunity to practice my French skills in real life situations. From ordering food at restaurants to attempting to follow the museum audio guide in French.”

66.7%

A*–A in A level French in 2023

83.3%

A*–B in A level French in 2023

Academic enrichment

The Senior MFL Society runs jointly with Abingdon School. Events include lectures, debates, visits, films and themed dinners. Specialised interview and grammar practice are offered to students applying to Oxford or Cambridge.

We also run a trip to Paris jointly with our Art Department. Visits include key Paris sights as well as art galleries.

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