A-Level French

Helping Pupils Flourish Through Language-Learning

Exam Board and Specification Codes: Edexcel AS-Level 8FR0; Edexcel A-Level 9FR0

Why Study French?

Below are some of the best reasons to learn French:

1. A Language for the International Job Market

The ability to speak French opens doors to French companies in France and other French-speaking countries. France is the world’s fifth biggest economy and the third most popular destination for foreign investment. French is spoken by 200 million around the world, and is an official language in 32 countries.

2. A Language of International Relations

French is both a working language and an official language of the United Nations, the European Union, UNESCO, NATO, OECD, the International Olympic Committee, the International Red Cross and international courts. French is also the language of the three cities in which the EU institutions are headquartered: Strasbourg, Brussels and Luxembourg.

3. A Language for Higher Education in the UK and France

Universities and employers understand that speaking more than just one language is key to the multilingual world we live in. Consequently, French is a prerequisite for many competitive university courses in UK. Studying languages facilitates a high level of communication skills, the ability to work independently and the confidence to adapt easily to different situations and cultures. The ability to speak French also opens up study opportunities at renowned French universities and business schools, ranked among the top higher education institutions in Europe and the world. Pupils with a good level of French are eligible for French government scholarships to enrol in postgraduate courses in France in any discipline and can qualify for internationally recognised French degrees.

4. The Language of Culture, Love and Reason

French is the international language of cooking, fashion, theatre, the visual arts, dance and architecture. French is also an analytical language that structures thought and helps develop critical thinking. Finally, in addition to providing a good base for learning other languages, French is a rich, melodious language, often referred to as the language of love.

What is Covered by the Course?

AS (for first teaching from September 2016):

The course enables pupils to develop an advanced level knowledge and understanding of the French language and the culture of France and francophone countries. A solid foundation of French grammar is a prerequisite for starting the A-Level course. Lessons are in French and students are encouraged to participate actively in class, in order to gain fluency and confidence in the language.

The AS course has a straightforward structure with two engaging themes. The two themes are studied alongside a literary text or a film.

Thème 1: Les changements dans la société française

Set in the context of France only, this theme covers social issues and trends:

  • Les changements dans les structures familiales
  • L’éducation
  • Le monde du travail

Thème 2: La culture politique et artistique dans les pays francophones

Set in the context of francophone countries and communities, this theme covers artistic and political culture:

  • La musique
  • Les médias
  • Les festivals et les traditions

A-Level (last year taught):

The A-Level course covers a variety of topics that give students an insight on French culture. Lessons are taught in French and pupils are encouraged to participate actively, to improve fluency and confidence in the language.

General Topic Areas


  • Youth culture and concerns
  • Lifestyle: Health and fitness
  • The World Around Us: Travel, tourism, environmental issues and the French-speaking world
  • Education and employment

Additional A-Level topics:

  • Customs, traditions, beliefs and religions
  • National and International Events: Past, present and future
  • Literature and the arts

At A-Level the themes are studied alongside a literary text or film.

How is it Examined?

The first assessment of the AS course is in summer 2018, after completion of the second year.

The A-Level course is assessed by examination only to test the four skills:

  • Listening
  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Speaking

There are 2 units at the end of each year: Units 1 and 2 cover the AS; Units 3 and 4 cover the A-Level.

Unit 1 – Spoken Expression and Response in French (8-10mins)

Pupils must show their abilities to engage in a discussion in French on a general topic, chosen in advance.

Unit 2 – Understanding and Written Response in French (2hrs 30mins)

Pupils are required to understand and convey their understanding of French by reading and listening to a range of authentic texts and recordings. In addition, students must produce an essay to demonstrate their ability to manipulate the language in continuous writing.

Unit 3 – Understanding and Spoken Response in French (11-13mins)

Pupils must show their abilities to engage in a debate and defend their point of view in French on a controversial issue, chosen in advance. They must also demonstrate their ability to engage in a spontaneous discussion on a minimum of two further topics.

Unit 4 – Research, Understanding and Written Response in French (2hrs 30mins)

Pupils are required to demonstrate advanced-level French writing skills, in translating from English to French and in independent reading and research of a chosen film or book.

Related University Courses and Careers?

Pupils considering a career in linguistics/translation or further study in modern languages should strongly consider studying A-Level French. Many universities offer French as part of a joint honours degree with a multitude of other subjects. Pupils thinking about a career in teaching, business, finance, diplomacy, media, fashion, law or politics, benefit from having language skills, which put them in a stronger position to find employment at companies with international links, or to work abroad.

Suggested Reading:

No et moi – Delphine de Vigan

L’Etranger – Albert Camus


To practice grammar and vocabulary:

Edexcel A-Level French Grammar Practice – Servane Jacob and Janine Schofield

Mot à Mot – Paul Humberstone


Les 400 coups – François Truffaut

La Haine – Mathieu Kassovitz

The key to language learning is regular practice. Students should read and listen to any materials and topics that interest them in French: newspapers, magazines, blogs, cartoons and songs, as well as language websites or applications.