HE Exams Wiki

There are three main routes to studying Spanish

  • as a Modern Foreign Language (MFL)/Second Language (via the GCSE/IGCSE route)
  • as a First Language with an IGCSE option
  • DELE diplomas via the Instituto Cervantes

GCSE/IGCSE Spanish (Modern Foreign Language)

The new 9-1 GCSE languages are now available to private candidates, as well as certain IGCSE options once favoured by home educators. The GCSEs no longer have coursework, that once had to be marked internally, and the speaking assessment is now recorded and sent to the exam board to be marked too, along with the written papers. 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.

Despite more freedom to choose from a range of exam options, it's still worth approaching exam centres or schools in your area early on in the process, to see which exams and 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 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 Spanish.  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. Again, liaise with your tutor and the exam centre in good time about this and check costs involved. Some centres that may not offer languages as they can't find a Spanish speaker to do the oral exams, may be willing to let you sit the exam if you can provide your own tutor.

Edexcel IGCSE Spanish (Modern Foreign Language)

Edexcel IGCSE Spanish

  • Exams from 2019
  • Available in Summer series
  • Specification code 4SP1
  • The qualification is untiered

Subject content

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

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


Comments from HE-Exams group

We did the Edexcel IGCSE this year. It's quite straightforward, but you will need to find a centre that will facilitate the oral exam. In reality, this will probably be somewhere that is already entering students for it themselves, or a language school.

I quite like the format of the papers, and there are many more available than the current specification shows (the legacy spec is close enough to use the old papers). Once you start practising the essays, they are not so daunting as you'd first think.

The book (blue cover, dancing lady) is fine. It's a good all round resource covering lots of topics BUT it is useless without the CD's and teachers guide. We really didn't want to pay the high price for the guide and CD's and tried for a while without, but in the end we had to bite the bullet and buy them. We also tried to get second hand ones and spent a year with Spanish on hold whilst I tried, but in the end we paid full price.

The book is very closely linked to the exam, and the topics are spot on.

The exam essays...not as frightening as it would appear. If you learn a couple of subjects thoroughly, then you'd be unlucky if at least one of them didn't come up for either the short or long essay.

Our essay writing came together quite well in just the last few weeks of prep before the exam. Suddenly as you approach the end of the book, it all starts to fall in to place a bit better.

Word of warning though...the book is intensive. For us (complete beginners with just holiday Spanish) There was NO WAY it could be completely done in what time we allow for an IGCSE subject (3-4 hours a week) and would have needed A LOT of hours to do everything within it. We skipped loads and tried to just at least touch on each subject, but that's because Spanish isn't important in our 'big scheme' and DS was just getting the box ticked (hopefully!)

I think if you covered every single page and exercise in the book, you would be very, very good at Spanish at the end.

A-level Spanish

Edexcel offer an oral exam service for A-level Spanish, so that you can sit the written papers at a local exam centre but then attend their London Orals Centre for the speaking test. This is only available for A-levels. Here is an extract from their information for exam centres on A-level language orals, which you can show to your examinations officer:

"If there is no teacher at your school to conduct an oral exam, it is possible to enter candidates for GCE orals with a Pearson Edexcel examiner in London. This service is only offered for Russian, Italian, German, Spanish and Urdu. More information is given on page 7 of the 2015 GCE French, German, Spanish, Italian, Russian and Urdu Administrative support guide."

Online Resources

BBC Languages - Courses in a number of languages, all free online.

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

Comprehension Sheets Escuela bloguera: FICHAS LECTURA COMPRENSIVA 3°

Conversation Exchange -Pairs you with another learner who wants to learn, say, English - you can meet, Skype, email etc.. to practise.

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.  As well as completing exercises and gaining points, you can help to translate the web via a crowdsourcing project. Intended for adults and intended for general use, not for exams

CIE IGCSE Spanish Past Papers and Listening Files also from John Witney - old listening files are like gold dust, so save these while they're available!

John Witney CIE IGCSE Spanish Revision /Go down to the section entitiled 'Revision Notes' - really useful stuff! 

Memrise -Vocabulary building using fun mnemonics techniques in a game-like format.  Covers many languages. “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” 

Pearson ActiveLearn - an online subscription service to provide homework practice and support, targeted on the UK National Curriculum - IGCSE languages are very close to GCSE so syllabus-specific for home educators. Has been highly recommended for languages on the HE Exams yahoogroup. Offers frequently come up on Groupon etc.. for a year's access for around £40.  

Quizlet Spanish IGCSE - Vocabulary flashcards targeting IGCSE-level Spanish.  For more options, try wider search terms eg 'GCSE Spanish'.  

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

Online Tutors via Skype

There are various online tutor sites where you can get one-to-one tuition over Skype, usually cheaper than face-to-face.  eg see [The Tutor Crowd]


Practice Makes Perfect Complete Spanish Grammar, 2nd Edition (Practice Makes Perfect Series): Amazon.co.uk: Gilda Nissenberg: 9780071763431: Books