spotlight on… french

MFL is something we are very proud of at Cowley Sixth Form. Did you know that we are one of the only sixth form colleges in the North West that offers German to study at A-Level?

Here, we take a closer look at the French A-level course offered at Cowley Sixth Form and we asked one of our students to give us a bit more insight into the course, what’s involved and what it’s like studying it here at Cowley.


When did you first consider studying French at Sixth Form?

I studied both French and Spanish at GCSE level, so it seemed natural that I would study a language at Sixth Form. After the Sixth Form Open Evening and learning of the course content for both languages, I still had little idea of which language to choose. Ultimately, it was the taster day, when I was able to sample the subjects that I was considering studying, that cemented my choice of French, as the content was so interesting and different when compared to GCSE level lessons.

What was it that captured your interest in the subject?

The variety of content covered in French is truly unique, from social issues to French music, to films, and cultural heritage. Not only is the content interesting, so is the teaching style. No two tasks are alike, thinking back to recent lessons we have completed: translations, gap fills, reading comprehensions, listening tasks, questions based on videos, and short writing tasks.

What has surprised you most about French?

Without wanting to sound like a broken record, I’d have to say the content covered. There are genuinely no other subjects where you will: watch films (we’ve watched Au Revoir Les Enfants), go on a virtual tour of UNESCO sites, discover music, learn about traditional meals, learn Canadian anti-discrimination laws or read statistics about marriage rates in France.

Do you intend to continue with French post A-level?

Yes, I am hoping to study French at degree level. I am looking at a wide range of courses, all are French based, as I believe the language will be useful throughout my life. One of the courses I am applying for is a combined French studies and International Relations degree at the University of London Institute in Paris, this would require three years living and studying in Paris.

If you are struggling with a question/topic what support is available?

Thanks to the small class size, during lesson my teacher is always available, and happy to help. Work is completed at a steady pace but can be slowed down to help with any problems that arise. Outside of class, help can be given via email, my teacher is pretty much always available to help (provided you ask at a reasonable time!).

What do you enjoy most about lessons?

In order to complete some tasks, we watch videos called 1 Jour, 1 Question. These are fun, animated videos (admittedly aimed at younger children) that explain new concepts in an easily digestible way, whilst still using quite high-level French. They have that ‘je ne sais quoi’ that makes them fun, entertaining and loveable.

What have you found most challenging?

Some of the grammatical concepts and rules can be challenging at first. However, after a bit of hard work and learning, you’ll be able to conjugate the present subjunctive forms of a verb in no time!

What advice would you give to someone thinking of taking the subject at Cowley Sixth Form College?

Be prepared for a different way of learning than GCSE French. Although the language doesn’t change, the actual content is almost completely different. The topics are much more thought-provoking and in-depth and less about learning basic language and phrases. About 4 months in to our course, we looked at a GCSE level translation and were shocked at how basic and easy it seemed, despite not noticing an increase in the difficulty of the course, because of how your knowledge of French and your “word bank” jumps to that next level.

If you had to pick your subjects again, would you still French?

100% yes. As mentioned before, I want to study French at degree, so obviously it’s a required A-level. Aside from that though, it’s just so interesting and varied, and the lessons are so enjoyable and engaging that I would definitely choose it again.

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