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There are three routes to studying French

  • as a Modern Foreign Language (MFL)/Second Language
  • as a First Language
  • as a DELF (an internationally-recognised French language qualification which shows proficiency at a variety of levels).

GCSE/IGCSE French (Modern Foreign Language)

The new 9-1 GCSE languages are now available to private candidates, as well as the traditional IGCSE options. The speaking assessment is now recorded and sent to the exam board to be marked, along with the written papers, while in the past it had to be internally assessed first, along with coursework. The exception to this is IGCSE Cambridge, which still has to be marked by teachers/examiners at the exam centre or school and then just moderated by the exam board.

It's worth approaching exam centres or schools in your area early on in the process, to see which boards they offer. Some continue to limit themselves to IGCSEs for home educators, while others can be more flexible. If your child has recently come out of a school where they were working towards a particular board, it's particularly important to make enquiries early, but all is not lost if your nearest private exam centre doesn't offer the same board. If you left school on good terms, the school may be able to fit you in as an external candidate. Otherwise the boards all offer similar topics and skill areas, so you can probably adapt to a different board fairly easily.

NOTE:  The Speaking and Listening Component is compulsory for both GCSE and IGCSE French.  You MUST confirm that you have an exam centre prepared to do the speaking test as well as the written papers. It is best to ask the exam centre to confirm in writing that they can offer the speaking test, to avoid misunderstandings.

Can you bring your own tutor for the speaking test?

For Edexcel and AQA GCSEs and Edexcel IGCSEs, the speaking test is recorded and sent off to the exam board for marking. As the tutor is not marking the work, it is possible for them to act as questioner for the speaking test without it giving the candidate an advantage. It is common in schools for the class teacher to conduct the speaking assessment. If your exam centre doesn't offer the speaking test, they may be prepared to work with your tutor. They would have to check the tutor's qualifications and take responsibility for the tutor. It is entirely up to the exam centre whether they do this or not.

Resources

You will find the main text books listed at the end of each GCSE/IGCSE option. You can probably find cheaper copies on other websites including Amazon, and there are often second hand copies available. Just make sure you check the condition of second hand books as it's important not to have scribbled on copies with answers already filled in. "Very good" or "like new" copies, perhaps with a bit of damage to the cover, or a few bent pages, are safest to buy.

Edexcel IGCSE French (Modern Foreign Language)

Edexcel IGCSE French

  • Exams from 2019
  • Available in Summer series
  • Specification code 4FR1
  • The qualification is untiered

Subject content

The content of Edexcel IGCSE French papers covers five topic areas:

  • Home and abroad
  • Education and employment
  • Personal life and relationships
  • The world around us
  • Social activities, fitness and health.

Assessment

2 written papers and one spoken examination.

  • Paper 1 - Listening 30 minutes, plus 5 minutes’ reading time - 40 marks - 25%. Tests listening skills across the five topic areas through a combination of multiple-choice, multiple-matching, note-taking and gap-fill questions.
  • Paper 2 - Reading and writing 1 hour 45 minutes - 80 marks (40 marks for reading and 40 marks for writing) - 50% Assesses reading and writing skills in separate sections across the five topic areas. Section A: Reading: a combination of multiple-choice, note-taking, gap-fill and short-answer questions. Section B: Writing: two open-response writing tasks and a task that requires writing verbs in their correct forms. Each task in this section is linked to a specific topic area.
  • Paper 3 - Internally conducted and externally assessed spoken examination. Usually scheduled between mid-March and the date of the written exams 8–10 minutes - 40 marks - 25% Assesses speaking skills across the five topic areas, with some sub-topics excluded.

Resources

Edexcel IGCSE French Student Book (Pearson)

Edexcel IGCSE French Student Book (Hodder)


CAIE IGCSE French (Modern Foreign Language)

CAIE IGCSE French (9-1 grading) or (A*-G grading) [The grading is different, but the specifications and exams are identical]

  • Exams from 2022
  • Available in Summer and November series in the UK (March in India)
  • Specification code 7156 (9-1 grading) or 0520 (A*-G grading)
  • The qualification is untiered (For 2021 exam specification see: CAIE IGCSE French (9-1 grading) or (A*-G grading) )


Subject Content

The content of CAIE IGCSE French is organised into five broad topic areas:

  • Everyday activities
  • Personal and social life
  • The world around us
  • The world of work
  • The international world

Candidates are expected to read and understand a variety of written and spoken texts on familiar topics. They will be required to demonstrate understanding of the main ideas, opinions and attitudes, as well as select and extract relevant details and deduce the meaning of occasional unknown words from context.

Assessment

3 written papers and one spoken examination

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


GCSE French AQA

GCSE French AQA

  • Exams from 2018
  • Available in Summer series
  • Specification code 8658 (9-1 grading)
  • The qualification is tiered

Subject Content

The content of AQA GCSE French is organised into three broad topic areas:

  • Identity and Culture
  • Local, national, international and global areas of interest
  • Current and future study and employment

Candidates are expected to read and understand a variety of written and spoken texts on familiar topics. They will be required to demonstrate understanding of the main ideas, opinions and attitudes, as well as select and extract relevant details and deduce the meaning of occasional unknown words from context.

Assessment

3 written papers and one spoken examination. Foundation and Higher tiers.

  • Paper 1 - Listening -35 minutes 40 marks (Foundation), 45 minutes 50 marks (Higher) 25%. For both tiers candidates listen to a number of recordings and answer multiple-choice and matching questions. Externally assessed.
  • Paper 2 - Speaking - 7-9 minutes (Foundation) + preparation time 10-12 minutes (Higher Tier) +preparation time 60 marks - 25%. Role play (15 marks), photo card given to candidate to prepare in preparation time (15 marks), conversation on 2 topic areas (30 marks).
  • Paper 3 - Reading- 45 minutes (Foundation) 1 hour (Higher) 60 marks - 25% Understanding and responding to different types of written language, including factual and literary texts.
  • Paper 4 - Writing - 1 hour (Foundation) 50 marks 1 hour 15 minutes (Higher) 60 marks. Both include English to French translation 60 marks - 25%. Foundation tasks - a message (8 marks ), translation (10 marks) a shorter essay piece (16 marks) and a longer essay piece (16 marks). Higher - shorter essay (16 marks), longer essay (32 marks) translation (16 marks)

Resources

Studio AQA GCSE French

Studio AQA GCSE French Grammar and Translation Book

Revise AQA GCSE French

CGP AQA French Revision and Practice (with online recordings)

GCSE French Edexcel

  • Exams from 2018
  • Available in Summer series
  • Specification code 1FR0 (9-1 grading)
  • The qualification is tiered

Subject Content

The content of Edexcel GCSE French is organised into five themes :

  • Identity and Culture
  • Local area, Holiday and travel
  • School
  • Future aspirations, study, work
  • International and global dimension

Assessment

3 written papers and one spoken examination. Foundation and Higher tiers.

  • Paper 1 - Listening -35 minutes 50 marks (Foundation), 45 minutes 50 marks (Higher) 25%. Students are assessed on their understanding of spoken French in a variety of scenarios covering all themes and topics. Multiple choice and short answer questions.
  • Paper 2 - Speaking - 7-9 minutes (Foundation) + 12 minutes preparation time - 70 marks 10-12 minutes (Higher Tier) + 12 minutes preparation time 70 marks - 25%. both given to candidate to prepare in preparation time, conversation on 2 topic areas
  • Paper 3 - Reading- 45 minutes (Foundation) 1 hour (Higher) 50 marks - 25% Understanding and responding to different types of written language, including factual and literary texts. Section A is set in English, Section B in French. Section C includes a translation passage from French into English.
  • Paper 4 - Writing - 1 hour 10 minutes (Foundation) 60 marks ; 1 hour 20 minutes (Higher) 60 marks. Foundation - three open response questions of varying lengths and one translation into French. Higher = two open response questions and one translation into French


GCSE French Eduqas

  • Exams from 2018
  • Available in Summer series
  • The qualification is tiered

Subject Content

The content of the Eduqas GCSE is divided into 3 broad themes:

  • Identity and culture
  • Local, national, international and global areas of interest
  • Current and future study and employment

Assessment

3 written papers and one spoken examination. Foundation and Higher tiers.

  • Unit 1 - Speaking Oral Test - 7-9 minutes (Foundation), 10-12 minutes (Higher) 25% 60 marks. 100 UMS Three tasks: Role play (15 marks), Photo card discussion (15 marks), Conversation (30 marks)
  • Unit 2 - Listening Written Exam - 35 minutes (Foundation), 45 minutes (Higher) 25% or qualification 45 marks 100UMS Listening comprehension tasks with non-verbal and written responses for both tiers.
  • Unit 3 - Reading Written Exam- 1 hour (Foundation) 1 hour 15 minutes (Higher) 60 marks - 25% 100 UMS Reading tasks with non-verbal and written responses, including one translation task from French into English/Welsh
  • Unit 4 - Writing Written Exam- 1 hour 15 minutes (Foundation) 1 hour 30 minutes (Higher) 60 marks. 100 UMS Writing tasks including one translation task from English into French


GCSE French WJEC (Wales)

  • Exams from 2018
  • Available in Summer series
  • The qualification is tiered

Subject Content

The content of the WJEC GCSE is divided into 3 broad themes:

  • Identity and culture
  • Wales and the World – areas of interest
  • Current and future study and employment


Assessment

3 written papers and one spoken examination. Foundation and Higher tiers.

  • Unit 1 - Speaking Oral Test - 7-9 minutes 40 marks (Foundation), 10-12 minutes (Higher) 25% 60 marks. 100 UMS Three tasks: Role play, Photo card discussion, Conversation
  • Unit 2 - Listening Written Exam - 35 minutes (Foundation), 45 minutes (Higher) 25% or qualification 45 marks 100UMS Listening comprehension tasks with non-verbal and written responses for both tiers.
  • Unit 3 - Reading Written Exam- 1 hour (Foundation) 1 hour 15 minutes (Higher) 60 marks - 25% 100 UMS Reading tasks with non-verbal and written responses, including one translation task from French into English/Welsh
  • Unit 4 - Writing Written Exam- 1 hour 15 minutes (Foundation) 1 hour 30 minutes (Higher) 60 marks. 100 UMS Writing tasks including one translation task from English/Welsh into French


GCSE/IGCSE French - First Language

CAIE French - First Language

  • Exams from 2022
  • Available in Summer series in the UK
  • Specification code 0501 (A*-G grading)
  • The qualification is untiered
  • 2 Papers - Paper 1 Reading - Paper 2 Writing.


DELF Exams - Alternative French Qualifications

DELF are internationally-recognised French language qualifications which show proficiency at a variety of levels. These may be easier for you to access examinations for than GCSEs. You cannot rely on them being accepted instead of a GCSE for college entry, because often colleges want to see a certain number of GCSEs for general admissions purposes. However, DELF exams certainly demonstrate competency at a variety of levels. The lowest levels are often taken by quite young children and can be very accessible and great confidence builders.

Comparisons of international qualification levels to show how DELF levels compare to A-level and GCSE.

Taking DELF exams in the UK - from the Insititut Francais de Royaume - Uni (note there are many exam centres for DELF, not just this one).


Resources

French Courses and Textbooks

E-French Tuition Online- courses from a home-educating parent and qualified French teacher and native French speaker, Véronique Barrot. Recommended by some home educators on the HE-exams group. She offers live online KS3 and IGCSE French courses as well as one to one tuition packages specially designed for home educated children. Every year she has new courses starting in September. 

Dawn Francis-Pester offers IGCSE/GCSE and KS3 online classes in small groups or 121. She is a qualified teacher, exam marker and home educating parent.

Galore Park publish a range of French materials and are very home-ed friendly. 

Online resources

[DuoLingo- Free interactive site, good for a few European languages - also available as iPad and Android apps.  Includes lessons, tests, and a competitive and optional social element.  Great for teaching you exact spellings and accents.  Really good fun. May be better suited to teens than littlies as many of the sentences you have to translate are about drinking wine and beer!  Good alongside other materials for extra drilling, or for a starting point moving towards GCSE. As well as completing exercises and gaining points, you can help to translate the web via a crowdsourcing project.

Busuu- Interactive site and language learning community - can put you in touch with other learners to practise together.  

Conversation Exchange - Pairs you with another learner who wants to learn, say, English - you can meet, Skype, email etc.. to practise. Site seems geared to learners of any age, so wise to supervise young learners.

Zut! - Interactive language site, free outside school hours.  Covers French, German, Welsh and Spanish.

Memrise - Vocabulary building using fun mnemonics techniques in a game-like format.  Covers many languages including French, Mandarin and Japanese. “A world memory champion and a neuroscientist have joined forces to create a language-learning website called Memrise, which combines mnemonic tricks with a game to help users learn quickly and efficiently”

Quizlet - Vocabulary flashcards in French and other languages 

Oak Academy National Hub of free lesson resources. Look for French under the year group you would be at school.

Language Resources UK - games, printable worksheets, teacher resources.

 

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