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There are two routes to studying Arabic

  • as a Modern Foreign Language (MFL)/Second Language
  • as a First Language

Students who are reasonably fluent might be tempted to do the First Language route to avoid the difficulties of arranging the speaking and listening assessments. However the First Language exams are aimed at native speakers and academically are much more difficult than the second language/MFL.

Anecdotally those doing the First Language route do considerably worse than those taking the second language/MFL route, even if they then go on and excel at A level (Second Language). Unless a real native speaker it is advised to consider the second language/MFL route

Edexcel GCSE Arabic (Modern Foreign Language)

Edexcel GCSE Arabic

  • Exams from: June 2019
  • Available in June
  • Specification code: 1AA0
  • The qualification is offered as higher or foundation tier


Subject Content

The content of Edexcel GCSE Arabic is broken down into 5 themes

  1. Identity and culture
  2. Local area, holiday, travel
  3. School
  4. Future aspirations, study and work
  5. International and global dimension.

All themes must be studied in the context of both the students’ home country and that of countries and communities where Arabic is spoken. For listening and reading assessments, the majority of contexts are based on the culture and countries where the assessed language is spoken. Students may also refer to the culture of the assessed language country/countries or communities in the speaking and writing papers. It is, therefore, important that students are exposed to materials relating to Arabic-speaking countries throughout the course.


Assessment

The assessment for GCSE Arabic has 3 written papers and an oral exam. Speaking exams occur in an assessment window, this is usually before the main examination series. You need to find a centre that can offer the speaking exam.

  • Paper 1 - Listening and Understanding in Arabic
    • Foundation tier: 35 minutes (inc 5 mins reading time) - 50 marks - 25%
    • Higher tier: 45 minutes (inc 5 mins reading time) - 50 marks - 25%
    • Covers full syllabus
    • Students are assessed on their understanding of standard spoken Arabic. Students will respond to multiple-response and short-answer open-response questions based on a recording featuring male and female Arabic speakers.
  • Paper 2 - Speaking in Arabic
    • Foundation tier: 7-9 minutes (plus 12 mins preparation time) - 70 marks - 25%
    • Higher tier: 10-12 minutes (plus 12 mins preparation time) - 70 marks - 25%
    • Covers full syllabus
    • Students are assessed on their ability to communicate and interact effectively through speaking in Arabic for different purposes and in different settings.
  • Paper 3 - Reading and Understanding in Arabic
    • Foundation tier: 1hr 15 minutes - 60 marks - 25%
    • Higher tier: 1hr 25 minutes - 60 marks - 25%
    • Covers full syllabus
    • Students are assessed on their understanding of written Arabic across a range of different types of texts, including advertisements, emails, letters, articles and literary texts. Questions are multiple-response and short-answer. Students will complete a translation from Arabic to English.
  • Paper 4 - Writing and Understanding in Arabic
    • Foundation tier: 50 minutes - 50 marks - 25%
    • Higher tier: 1hr 5 minutes - 50 marks - 25%
    • Covers full syllabus
    • Questions are open responses of varying lengths and types requiring students to express ideas and opinions in Arabic. Students will also complete a translation into Arabic.


Resources

The specification page has a number of support resources, acttivities, scheme of work and a course planner

Text book - The New GCSE Arabic Companion by Chawki Nacef - the author also produces a range of preparation books and books on specific skills, these would need comparing to the current specification.

Alternative Textbooks

Past papers including audio clips can be accessed through the specification page

CAIE IGCSE Arabic - Foreign Language

Cambridge IGCSE Arabic - Foreign Language (0544)

  • Available in Summer series
  • Specification code: 0544
  • This syllabus is grades A* - G


Subject Content

The content of CAIE lGCSE Arabic is broken down into 5 themes

  1. Everyday activities
  2. Personal and social life
  3. The world around us
  4. The world of work
  5. The international world

These provide contexts for the acquisition of vocabulary and the study of grammar and structures. The study of these topic areas enables students to gain an insight into countries and communities where Arabic is spoken.


Assessment

The assessment for IGCSE Arabic has 3 written papers and an oral exam. Speaking exams occur in an assessment window, this is usually before the main examination series. You need to find a centre that can offer the speaking exam.

  • Paper 1 - Listening - 50 minutes - 40 marks - 25%
    • Covers full syllabus
    • Candidates listen to a number of recordings and answer multiple-choice and matching questions.
  • Paper 2 - Reading - 1 hour - 45 marks - 25%
    • Covers full syllabus
    • Candidates read a number of texts and answer multiple-choice and matching questions as well as questions requiring short answers.
  • Paper 3 - Speaking - 10 minutes - 40 marks - 25%
    • Covers full syllabus
    • Candidates complete one role play and conversations on two topics.
  • Paper 4 - Writing - 1 hour - 45 marks - 25%
    • Covers full syllabus
    • Candidates complete one form-filling task, one directed writing task and one task in the format of an email/letter or an article/blog.


Resources

There doesn't appear to be a textbook for this course

Collins have a subscription to an online vocabulary resource that is endorsed by CAIE, It has a hefty price tag so worth approaching Collins to see if any discounts are available.

Past papers are available through the specification page and here


Edexcel International GCSE - First Language

Edexcel International GCSE - First Language

This specification is aimed at students who speak Arabic as a first language.

  • Exams from: June 2019
  • Available in January and June
  • Specification code: 4AA1


Subject Content

The content of Edexcel lGCSE Arabic tests students on reading, summarising, grammar and writing skills. This syllabus is aimed at students who are fluent in Arabic.


Assessment

  • Paper 1 - Reading, Summary and Grammar - 2 hours 15 minutes - 75 marks - 60%
    • Consists of 3 sections. Reading: Short- and extended-response questions on two texts. Summary: Summary of the main points of a third text. Grammar: Four questions on a range of aspects of grammar.
  • Paper 2 - Writing - 1 hour 30 mins - 50 marks - 40%
    • Two extended-response writing tasks (25 marks for each task).

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Resources

The specification page has a scheme of work

Text book

Past papers including audio clips can be accessed through the specification page


CAIE IGCSE - First Language

Cambridge offer 2 IGCSEs in Arabic (First Language). The difference is in the grading, 7184 being 9-1 and 0508 being A*-G, otherwise the syllabus is identical.

CAIE International GCSE Accounting (7184) page and specification

CAIE International GCSE Accounting (0508) page and specification

This specification is aimed at students who speak Arabic as a first language.

  • Exams from: June 2019
  • Available in Autumn and Summer series
  • Specification code: 0508 (A*- G) or 7184 (9 -1)


Subject Content

The content of CAIE lGCSE Arabic requires students to respond knowledgeably to a rich array of reading passages. Candidates will use some of these passages to inform and inspire their own writing, and write in a range of text types for different audiences. The passages cover a range of genres and types, including fiction and non-fiction, and may also include other forms of writing, such as essays, reviews and articles. This syllabus is aimed at students who are fluent in Arabic.

Assessment

  • Paper 1 - Reading - 2 hours - 50 marks - 50%
    • Structured and extended writing questions.
    • Questions will be based on Arabic passages
  • Paper 2 - Writing - 2 hours - 50 marks - 50%
    • Two composition tasks


Resources

Cambridge publish a coursebook, workbook and teacher's book

Past papers can be accessed through the specification pages or here You can use either spec to practice.


Finding an Exam Centre for the Speaking Exam

Both Edexcel GCSE and CAIE Arabic - Foreign language require centres to facilitate a speaking test. This means they will need to source an accessor if they do not offer the course.

When searching for a centre you could try language schools, religious centres and adult education centres as well as standard exam centres. The exam boards may be able to help too.

The following centres all advertise as offering (or have offered) Arabic

The Tutorial Centre, Bromley, Kent

Tutors and Exams

3 A Tutors, Bristol

British Muslim Heritage Centre

Macclesfield Tutorial College

There are plenty of others around the London area such as London Brookes and Campbell Harris (Kensington)

If you have no luck in finding a centre, it is worth asking centres if they will facilitate the exam if you source an external accessor.





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