Modern Languages

In French A level students study technological and social change, looking at diversity and the benefits it brings. They will study highlights of French-speaking artistic culture, including francophone music and cinema, and learn about political engagement and who wields political power in the French-speaking world.

Students also explore the influence of the past on present-day French-speaking communities. Throughout their studies, they will learn the language in the context of French-speaking countries and the issues and influences which have shaped them. Students will study texts and film and have the opportunity to carry out independent research on an area of their choice.

Assessment tasks will be varied and cover listening, speaking, reading and writing skills.


The A-level specification builds on the knowledge, understanding and skills gained at GCSE. It constitutes an integrated study with a focus on language, culture and society. It fosters a range of transferable skills including communication, critical thinking, research skills and creativity, which are valuable to the individual and society. The content is suitable for students who wish to progress to employment or to further study, including a modern languages degree.


The approach is a focus on how French-speaking society has been shaped, socially and culturally, and how it continues to change. In the first year, aspects of the social context are studied, together with aspects of the artistic life of French-speaking countries. In the second year further aspects of the social background are covered, this time focusing on issues such as life for those on the margins of French-speaking society as well as looking at the positive influences that diversity brings. Students also study aspects of the political landscape in a French-speaking country, looking at immigration from the political perspective and at the way in which political power is expressed through action such as strikes and demonstrations. Teenagers and the extent to which they are politically engaged looks towards the future of political life in French-speaking society.

Students will develop their knowledge and understanding of themes relating to the culture and society of countries where French is spoken, and their language skills. They will do this by using authentic spoken and written sources in French.

The choice of works (literary texts and films) offers opportunities to link with the themes so that for example Life for the marginalised could be studied in conjunction with the book No et moi whilst aspects of Politics and immigration are reflected in the book Kiffe kiffe demain and in the films La Haine and Entre les murs.

Students following this specification will develop their language knowledge, understanding and skills through:

  • using language spontaneously to initiate communication; ask and answer questions; express thoughts and feelings; present viewpoints; develop arguments; persuade; and analyse and evaluate in speech and writing, including interaction with speakers of French
  • applying knowledge of pronunciation, morphology and syntax, vocabulary and idiom to communicate accurately and coherently, using a range of expression – including the list of grammar in this specification
  • using language-learning skills and strategies, including communication strategies such as adjusting the message, circumlocution, self-correction and repair strategies
  • listening and responding to spoken passages including some extended passages from a range of different contexts and sources, adapted as necessary, covering different registers and types, including authentic communication involving one or more speakers
  • reading and responding to a variety of texts including some extended texts written for different purposes and audiences drawn from a range of authentic sources, including contemporary, historical and literary, fiction and non-fiction texts, adapted as necessary
  • understanding the main points, gist and detail from spoken and written material
  • inferring meaning from complex spoken and written material, including factual and abstract content
  • assimilating and using information from spoken and written sources, including material from online media
  • summarising information from spoken and written sources, reporting key points and subject matter in speech and writing
  • translating an unseen passage from French into English
  • translating an unseen passage from English into French.

Students must also study either one book and one film or two books from the lists in this specification. They must appreciate, analyse and be able to respond critically in writing in French to the work they have studied. Their understanding of the work must include a critical appreciation of the concepts and issues covered and a critical and analytical response to features such as the form and the technique of presentation as appropriate to the work studied (eg the effect of narrative voice in a prose text or camera-work in a film).

In addition, students following this specification will:

  • develop research skills in French, demonstrating the ability to initiate and conduct individual research on a subject of personal interest, relating to the country or countries where French is spoken
  • identify a key question or subject of interest and select relevant information in French from a range of authentic sources, including the internet
  • use information to illustrate knowledge and understanding of the research subject
  • analyse and summarise research findings, elaborating on key points of interest, as appropriate, through oral presentation and discussion.

The exams will measure how students have achieved the following assessment objectives.

AO1: Understand and respond:

  • in speech to spoken language including face-to-face interaction
  • in writing to spoken language drawn from a variety of sources.

AO2: Understand and respond:

  • in speech to written language drawn from a variety of sources
  • in writing to written language drawn from a variety of sources.

AO3: Manipulate the language accurately, in spoken and written forms, using a range of lexis and structure.

AO4: Show knowledge and understanding of, and respond critically and analytically to, different aspects of the culture and society of countries/communities where the language is spoken.

You will need to have studied GCSE French and hopefully you will have enjoyed the course and found it interesting and stimulating.You will also need to watch videos / television and read books / magazines in your free time. It is also important that you practice your chosen language with other people that speak the target language. Visiting the countries where the studied language is spoken is also beneficial.

There are a range of things you can do with your French A level qualification. It will allow you to study the language at a further level – at university, for example – which could allow you to gain work in French-speaking countries across the globe.

This could involve working as an interpreter, pursuing a career in international business or working in the tourist industry, travelling the world. The language is also a working language in a number of international organisations such as the World Trade Organisation and United Nations, thereby being useful if you wish to pursue a career in international politics.

In terms of further education, the language can be of use to those studying culture, literature, sociology and history. The range of transferable skills you’ll learn include:

  • Research skills
  • Critical thinking
  • Essay writing
  • Attention to detail
  • Crafting arguments

Language skills are in demand and can be used in almost any career, particularly in businesses that trade internationally.

Job options include:

Some modern language graduates work on a self-employed basis as interpreters or translators. However, many others choose careers not directly related to their subject but where there is the opportunity to use their language skills, for example working for companies who trade or offer services internationally or to non-English speaking customers and suppliers.

This means that language workers work for a huge variety of employers and sectors, including:

  • business services
  • charity work
  • engineering
  • media
  • museums and libraries
  • public administration
  • teaching
  • tourism
  • transport and logistics