A Level Modern Foreign Languages – French and Spanish
Languages is the one subject which all of my friends say they wish they had studied more at school, it is so essential to be able to speak a language to not only travel the world but also to work in an increasingly globalised work place.
Ms Leon (Head of MFL)
Exam Board: AQA
8 or more GCSEs at grades 9-4 including a minimum grade 6 in French and Spanish.
You may ask yourself ‘why study a language?’. I think the more appropriate question is ‘why not study a language?’ Languages are an invaluable skill that you can develop to whatever level you wish, depending on how much work you put in and how much dedication you have. Starting a language from scratch and attending one or two lessons for an hour a week won’t have you fluent by the end of the year, but you will start to be able to understand more and more with every time you go. Equally, if you work hard and completely immerse yourself in the language of your choice, perhaps by living in the country or by only speaking the language to someone who is already fluent, you can achieve a level of understanding far beyond that of simply learning from a book.
Speaking a language is an invaluable skill that can be developed up to whatever level students wish, depending on how much work and dedication they put in. When working hard and completely immersing one’s self in the French or Spanish language and culture, a greater level of understanding can be achieved quickly. Studying A Level French and Spanish provides an insight into another culture and its society, as well as a sound basis for further study. Languages are spoken by real people in the real world and the topics studied reflect a range of issues in modern society. At AS Level these include: • Media and Technology (TV, advertising, technology and the role of the internet) • Popular Culture (cinema, music and fashion) • Healthy Lifestyle (sport, health, diet, work/life balance and holidays) • Family Relationships (friends, family and changing attitudes towards relationships). At A Level topics include: • Environment • Multi-Cultural Society • Contemporary Social Issues. Students will also be encouraged to access language outside the classroom via satellite TV, radio or reading newspapers and magazines.
Studying a language clearly makes you a good communicator, both orally and in writing, giving you a massive advantage over others in the job market if you’re applying for work with a multi-national company. University College London (UCL) now insists that all undergraduates have a GCSE in a modern language, and if not that they take a language course when they first arrive – because they believe that all students should be able to operate on a global scale. Additional skills gained through a language degree include the ability to gather information, assess and interpret it, have high level written communication skills, lead and participate in discussions and groups, organise your workload and work to deadlines, develop opinions and propose ideas and read texts and pick out the essential points.
- Technical (for example, interpreter, translator)
- Government (for example, immigration, MEP, diplomat)
- Security Forces (for example, intelligence)
- Business (for example, international marketing manager, mergers & acquisitions, personal assistant)
- Tourism (for example, ski resort rep, tour guide, hotel manager)
- Education (for example, TEFL teacher, lecturer)
Entry & Training
Studying languages at degree level often means that you spend a year abroad as part of your course, studying at an overseas university or getting some foreign language work experience in a business. Whilst this might seem daunting, students who have spent a year studying in China or Russia, or perhaps a few months with a business in Paris have a unique selling point when it comes to putting their CVs together after they graduate. The exchange schemes are normally well-established (often through the EC Erasmus scheme) and you might end up studying there with a group of friends from your course. Many universities will allow you to study a combined language degree, with one being a language that you’ve already studied at A Level (for example, Spanish or Arabic) and the second being a new language (for example, Italian or Russian). Other universities will let you study a language from scratch, for example SOAS will let you take Chinese or Korean. You can also study languages combined with a range of other subjects, for example, French & Politics or Turkish & Social Anthropology.
- St Andrew’s
Going straight into a job or apprenticeship that uses your language skills shouldn’t be a difficult prospect. Businesses with overseas offices and international clients will be delighted to find that you are confident in speaking and writing in more than just English, and it should prove to be a major attraction that puts you ahead of other candidates. You will just need to do some careful research into the kind of jobs that you are applying for and target those that might value your linguistic abilities.