Why Learn French?
French is a world language: More than 220 million people speak French on five continents. French is the second most widely learned foreign language after English and the sixth most widely spoken language in the world. It is also the only language, alongside English, that is taught in every country in the world. France operates the biggest international network of cultural institutes running French-language courses for close on a million learners. French is the third most widely used language on the Internet, ahead of Spanish. It offers an alternative view of the world through communication with French speakers from all over the world and news from the leading French-language international media (TV5, France 24 and Radio France Internationale).
French is good for your career: The ability to speak English and French is an advantage on the international job market. It opens doors to companies in France and other French-speaking parts of the world, such as Canada, Switzerland, Belgium and the continent of Africa. As the world’s fifth biggest economy and third-ranking destination for foreign investment, France is a key economic partner.
French is the language of culture: French is the international language of cooking, fashion, theatre, the visual arts, dance and architecture. A knowledge of French offers access to the world of literature, film and music. French is the language of Victor Hugo, Molière, Léopold Sendar Senghor, Edith Piaf, Jean-Paul Sartre, Alain Delon and Zinedine Zidane.
French is a language for travel: France is the world’s top tourist destination and attracts more than 79.5 million visitors a year. Speaking even a little French makes it so much more enjoyable to visit Paris, the mild climes of the Cote d’Azur, the snow-capped peaks of the Alps or the rugged coastline of Brittany. It offers insights into French culture, mentality and way of life. It also comes in handy when travelling to other countries around the world where French is spoken.
French is the language for higher education: Speaking French opens up study opportunities at renowned French universities and business schools, ranked among the top higher education institutions in Europe and the world. Students with a good level of French are eligible for French government grants to enrol in postgraduate courses in France in the discipline of their choice and qualify for internationally recognised degrees.
French is the other language of international relations: French is both a working language and an official language of the United Nations, the European Union, UNESCO, NATO, the International Olympic Committee, the International Red Cross and international courts. French is the language of the three cities where the EU institutions are headquartered: Strasbourg, Brussels and Luxembourg.
French is fun to learn: French is an easy language to learn and there are many methods that make learning it enjoyable for children and adults alike. It does not take long to reach a level where you can communicate in French.
Learning French helps in learning other languages: French is a good base for learning other languages, especially Romance languages like Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and Romanian. Around half of current English vocabulary is derived from French.
French is the language of love and reason: First and foremost, learning French brings into play the pleasure of learning a beautiful, rich, melodious language, often called the language of love. French is also an analytical language that structures thought and develops critical thinking, a valuable skill for discussions and negotiations.
In Years 7 and 8, the emphasis is on communicating with lessons being taught predominantly in French and discussions focusing on what is needed to make an impression in French. Students begin learning French in Year 7 but have the option to study German also in Year 8. For those students who choose to study both languages, they will have one lesson per week for each language, otherwise they have 2 French lessons per week. Discussion topics include:
- French and French-speaking countries
- Introducing yourself, including spelling, numbers, age and birthday.
- Talking about your area
- Talking about school
In Year 8 we move on to discuss more general issues:
- Describing yourself, your family and your pets, your passions, the important things and people in your life
- Free time and hobbies
Homework for these early years is set once a week, as it is important that students maintain regular contact with the language. This will either be learning vocabulary, a short writing task or a reading / listening / speaking exercise.
For GCSE, we continue to build on the four skills of Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing already introduced in Years 7 and 8. WJEC has introduced a brand new specification, which is designed to enable students to develop their linguistic skills.
Many of the GCSE topics have been encountered in the earlier years and are therefore familiar.
The GCSE course of study broadly encompasses the following:
- Listening, reading and responding to different types of language
- Verbal communication for a variety of purposes
- Written communication in writing for a variety of purposes
- Understanding and applying grammar
- The use of a variety of multimedia resources and audio-visual equipment
Topics studied include:
- Personal and Social Life: Self, family, friends, home life, shopping, meals, healthy living, illness and accident, free time, fashion, relationships, future plans.
- Local Community: Home town, school, education, local environment, pollution, recycling, local facilities, comparisons with other towns and regions, weather and seasons.
- The World of Work: Work experience, part-time jobs, future careers, technology (sending messages, accessing information).
- The Wider World: Travel and holidays, media, social issues (the life of young people today, homelessness, crime, drugs, healthy living, religion, politics), life in the countries and communities where the language is spoken.
Click on the links below to download a copy of the GCSE syllabus specification:
We’ve also taken the WJEC GCSE recommended vocabulary list and redrafted it into a more user-friendly and appealing format. Click on the link below to download your copy.
AS / A Level
Studying French at AS and A Level offers learners a rich and comprehensive insight into the social fabric, political, intellectual and artistic culture of the countries and communities where French is spoken.
The course of study comprises 5 units (2 AS and 3 A Level) which fall under two main areas of interest, specifically chosen to provide students with an extensive and pertinent learning experience:
Social issues and trends
- Being a young person in a French-speaking environment (AS Level)
- Diversity and difference (A Level)
Political, intellectual and artistic culture
- Understanding the French-speaking world (AS Level)
- France 1940-1950: The Occupation and the post-war years
Two oral assessments will be conducted; Unit 2 at AS Level and Unit 5 at A Level.
Unit 2 comprises studying and discussing one of the films listed below and in Unit 5 students will be studying the novel entitled Un Secret by Philippe Grimbert.
Click on the links below to download your copy of the WJEC AS / A Level syllabus specification and our own little brochure AS / A Level French in Brief:
WJEC Level 1 / 2 Vocational Award in Global Business Communication
This qualification is designed to support the aims of the Welsh Government Global Futures strategy in providing a vocational MFL qualification that will facilitate a learner’s ability to work more effectively in the global economy. It is designed to create independent learners who will develop skills associated with language learning such as problem solving, creativity and literacy, as well as gaining an understanding of the personal benefits of linguistic competence and of cultural awareness.
The course of study is divided up into four units and each unit is worth 25% of the qualification:
Global Opportunities: Students begin to understand the benefits of languages in a global economy. They develop skills in searching and applying for jobs overseas and understanding work-related communication in French.
Global Travel: Students develop language skills enabling them to effectively plan, organise and undertake work-related travel in French, such as searching for travel options and making bookings and considering Health & Safety factors, whether at an airport, train station or in a hotel.
Global Customer Relationships: Students learn to understand the importance of building customer relationships in a global market and develop their customer service skills to respond to enquiries and/or complaints in French. They learn how to create a positive impression when representing their company globally, taking into consideration cultural factors and conventions, such as formal/informal language, verbal / non-verbal communication and expected cultural norms.
Global Sales and Marketing: Students develop language skills in promoting and selling products and services in French. Marketing strategies play a crucial role in increasing sales globally so employees need to understand how best to promote their companies’ products or services by developing an effective marketing strategy in French.
Click on the link below to download your copy of the syllabus specification for this course:
Extra-curricular Activities & Clubs
The following table details the extra-curricular activities and clubs available to students studying French. As additional activities are initiated these will be added table.
There are lots of useful websites and apps to help you learn and improve your French. Here are a few that we recommend.
Quizlet is an excellent resource for GCSE French, a lightening fast and fun way to learn vocabulary. It was created by a former Crickhowell student, Emilia White.
The following are very useful dictionary sites /language learning sites / free apps. These are excellent for practising pronounciation and for building up vocabulary:
GCSE POD, for which you have a user name and password, is very useful for French revision. There are videos, listening exercises and a variety of materials to help you.
This website is recommended by The Daily Telegraph for French revision. It has a wide variety of foreign language learning videos.
The BBC Languages website has a comprehensive array of French language tools. You can watch authentic videos, learn more about grammar and structure and expand your range of vocabulary.
There is also the BBC Bitesize website for GCSE French:
And lets not forget Youtube and digital radio programmes. Find something you like and listen to / watch it regularly.