From September 2009, almost all pupils work towards the Edexcel IGCSE exam at the end of the Upper Fifth year. There is no coursework element and pupils sit the terminal exam which gives equal weighting to the listening, reading and writing skills. There is also an oral exam which is separately endorsed, although from 2013 it will be an integral part of the exam.
Languages are often studied alongside arts subjects, but other combinations are becoming more popular: with Economics, Business Studies, Politics, Maths or Geography, for example. It is possible for pure scientists to keep a language going as the fourth Sixth Form subject without compromising their university or career aspirations. Cranleighans regularly go on to study languages at university, although, more recently, more have opted for business combinations rather than purely cultural courses. Several have gone on to start new languages at university, such as Arabic, Chinese and Japanese. In general, language graduates are in high demand as management trainees, where their communication skills, ability to think independently and their experience of working and studying in a foreign country are greatly valued.
At Cranleigh, the AS and A2 courses assess the four language skills (reading, writing, speaking and listening), but also assume a degree of awareness of the broader cultural aspects of life in the countries concerned. The content of the courses is based on a number of contemporary themes and the study of literature is included within these themes. It should be noted that an ability to study and master quite complex grammar is vital for success in the Sixth Form. The principal aim, however, is to develop confidence and competence in practical communication skills for study, work and leisure. Your skills in reading, speaking, writing and listening will develop and you will acquire an increased knowledge and understanding of language structures.
You will also have lessons in small groups of two or three with native speakers to develop your spoken fluency and there are opportunities to travel to the relevant countries on study trips or language courses.
If you have abilities in other languages, you can be entered for examinations, although no instruction is provided. In recent years, Sixth Formers have taken GCSE and A Levels in about ten different languages, including Dutch, Japanese, Chinese and Russian.
During the course you will read and listen to authentic foreign language materials and will study aspects of the contemporary society, cultural background and heritage of a country where the language is spoken. You will have opportunities to develop your understanding and awareness of spiritual, moral, ethical and European issues.
You will extend and develop your knowledge of the grammar and vocabulary of the foreign language and will use this to speak, write, read and listen to the language.
In addition, you will learn how to:
- be an effective communicator
- speak and write the language in a range of different situations and for different purposes
- use the language to express facts and ideas
- use the language to present explanations, opinions and information
- develop an argument and to analyse and evaluate.
Over the course of the two years, several broad “contemporary” topic areas are studied:
- Youth culture and concerns, including music and fashion, communication technology, cinema, media, and relationships (family, friendships, etc)
- Lifestyle: health and fitness, including sport and exercise, food and diet, leisure
- Travel, tourism, environmental issues and the target-language speaking world
- Education and employment, including the multicultural society and the world of work
- Law and order
Cultural topics are also covered, including history of the country, a region/geographical area, literature, art, and music.
- enjoy language learning
- enjoy learning about other cultures
- want to communicate with speakers of a foreign language
- want to use a language for further study (e.g. at university)
- want to work abroad
- want to work for companies with international links
- want to broaden an otherwise narrow choice of AS subjects
- want to develop opinions about current issues
- have a good memory and a logical mind.
AS- (a) An Oral exam; (b) Listening, Reading and Writing exam
A2- (a) Oral exam; (b) Final written exam
In the AS Oral exam, before the exam itself, you will be given a stimulus (a picture and short text in the language). You will then answer questions on the stimulus and move on to a conversation on broader issues. The test will last between 10 and 15 minutes and will be conducted by your teacher.
In the AS Listening, Reading and Writing exam, there are three sections. The first section is a listening test. You will listen to authentic recorded material and have to answer questions. The next section is a reading test where you will have to read several authentic texts and answer a range of questions.
The final part of this paper is a writing test. Here you will have to write a letter, essay, report or article in the target language.
In the A2 Oral exam, you will have to present a definite point of view and then defend it. During the test there will also be a conversation on at least two other topics. You will not be expected to have specialized knowledge of these, but you should be able to speak sensibly about them.
In the A2 Writing exam, you will have to translate from English into the target language, write a discursive or a creative essay on a theme that you will not know in advance, and write an essay in the target language on the cultural topic you have chosen and prepared in advance. This could be on:
- Geographical area (e.g. region or city)
- Historical study
- Aspects of modern society
- Literature and the Arts