This syllabus is designed for learners who are learning French as a foreign language. The aim is to develop an ability to use the language effectively for purposes of practical communication. The course is based on the linked language skills of listening, reading, speaking and writing, and these are built on as learners progress through their studies.
The syllabus also aims to offer insights into the culture and civilisation of countries where French is spoken, thus encouraging positive attitudes towards language learning and towards speakers of foreign languages.
What do you enjoy about the subject?
Aina: French is a beautiful language, so I love learning it and I love everything about French.
Piers: Uh, yeah I think I really enjoy the culture.
Amanda: I think when you’re learning a language, it gives you a lot of satisfaction when you reach a level of understanding where you’re able to look at different forms of media in that language. So for example, when you’re finally able to kind of read a book or like watch a movie without having to pause every 5 seconds to look at a dictionary. It’s very gratifying.
What’s the most challenging thing about the subject?
Amanda: I think the most challenging and most difficult part of language subjects in general is that you can’t cram for your exams. So it’s a skill you have to build from the beginning. So you can’t develop all the skills you need for your exam whether it be writing, vocabulary, your accent, in a night.
Piers: Yeah, I think for me, the most challenging thing was learning how to speak the language and formulating the perfect accent. Well, it’s not even perfect but just trying to speak was definitely the trying part for me.
Aina: And another thing that I find challenging is finding someone to practice with, especially in Malaysia there’s not many people who speak French. So, I mean, you can still practice by watching movies and reading books but speaking is a very important skill you need to practice.
Why did you choose the subject?
Aina: First of all, Malay was not a requirement for me because I’m not Malaysian. And secondly, I just like French. Yeah.
Piers: Because France is definitely somewhere I’d like to visit during the holidays in the future, and it’s one of the biggest holiday destinations in the world. I thought that learning French would be a useful language for me.
Amanda: I’m not like Aina; I did have to take Malay so I took 2 languages for IGs. But again, I did take French because I enjoyed it and I thoroughly enjoyed the language. The other thing was the encouragement from my teacher and looking back on how much I’d progressed it gave me more motivation and confidence in my skills to do well in IGs.
Aina: Also, the other reason why I wanted to study French as a subject is because unlike Malay, because we live in Malaysia it’s easy to learn Malay just by the context of living in Malaysia. But, I don’t know for sure if I’m gonna live in a French country when I grow up so it’s nice to learn French in school.
Was there anything in the subject that was different to your initial expectations?
Aina: Well what was different for me was that I didn’t expect the class to go as smoothly as it was in IGs compared to Year 9. Because when you’re in Years 7,8 and 9 there are people who aren’t exactly keen on taking French, but once you’re in IGs all the people are filtered out so the ones left are the ones who are really passionate about French.
Piers: Carrying on from Aina’s point, I think by having slightly smaller class sizes, you do get more teacher attention, and I think that’s a much better way of learning the language and it’s much more efficient.
Amanda: Again, it also carries on from Piers’ point about having more teacher attention, so for me personally I think in Year 10, and Year 11 I noticed I progressed in the language much faster because again there was more attention paid to grammar and stuff like that and the teachers were less lenient than they were in Year 9.
How are the lessons like?
Aina: In terms of assessment and rating, okay first of all in terms of assessments, you’re assessed on your writing skills and your speaking, reading and listening. So that’s what you’re assessed on so you have to focus on each of these four areas and what you’re weak at so you have to work on them more. As for writing, the main things that they look at is your grammar and your conjugation, so those are the most important parts of French, really.
Piers: Yeah, and I think for independent study, you have to do quite a bit for French- well for any language really, try and do 5 minutes a day. The more regularly you do it, the better you get and I did this a lot especially in Year 9. I used to use Duolingo and especially in Year 10 I also used language.com and they provide lots of good materials. If you don’t want to do actual work, then I advise maybe reading a French book if you’re into reading. Or just watching French Youtube channels because there are quite a lot and they’ve definitely helped me.
Amanda: In terms of collaboration, the main things you do is you practice your speaking with your classmates and not only does it allow you to get exposure with speaking, so it’s again like Aina said, there’s not a lot of people in Malaysia who speak French. It also allows you to detect the mistakes that the other person makes, it allows you to be more aware of those mistakes for yourself so you improve your skills.
How much homework or independent study do you do a week for the subject?
Aina: It’s usually only about one or two hours a week, depending on how worked you are. But usually what I got was just small worksheets that work on improving or practicing grammar. I mean, additional hours would be independent study and if you want, to read books or watch movies at your own pace.
What are the skills and knowledge you can develop in this subject and why are they useful?
Aina: First of all, the most obvious one is you learn French, which I think is really useful in the modern world because there’s so many countries that speak French and learning one language can really help you in learning another language, for example, Spanish or Italian.
Piers: Well I think essay structure is something you definitely learn a lot about whilst doing the subject and being able to do independent study and also monitoring your workload. I found that French is one of the first subjects where I really started putting a lot of effort into my subjects before we had lots of exams, so that’s the skills I really think you learn from French.
Aina: French, I think, really helps you with your independent study because French is- well learning languages in general, is something you have to go out and learn about by yourself and keep practicing by yourself. It’s not like Biology or Chemistry where you get what you’re given in class and then you just revise that when you go home, and then you can forget about it after IGCSEs and just go on with your life again. You know, French is different.
Any tips for new French students?
Aina: Watch a lot of French movies, French videos, read French books. It really really helps with your skills in class and your exams.
Piers: Yeah, and I think one thing you can really do to immerse yourself in the language is if you think you’re strong enough in the language and you understand a lot, you can change your phone language to French. That’s what I’ve done and that’s very useful.
Amanda: Yeah, I’ve found that useful as well because you learn vocabulary outside of the topics you learn in school. So you learn the quirky little vocabulary from your settings and stuff. I think the most important thing is to find the media that you enjoy so it doesn’t necessarily have to be films- it can be movies, it can be books. Just find the hobby or something that you enjoy and attempt to make the connection with French.
How do you study for the subject?
Aina: Apps like Duolingo, reading books, watching movies. Listening to French music. Et cetera.
Piers: Yeah, French media, and just try to immersify yourself in the language. That’s really the best way to revise.
Amanda: For me, something that was very useful is you can find on the CIE website the vocabulary list and list of topics, so what I did was I copied all of the vocabulary and I put it into a Quizlet (which is a flashcard app) and then whenever you have free time just go through it and eventually it will help you a lot in every aspect of the language because essentially vocabulary is the building block of a language.
Aina: Yeah, one thing that I did when I was in IGCSE French was I would get this list of vocabulary required by CIE and for example, they give a lot of verbs and one of the most important parts of French is conjugating those verbs so I have a whole notebook of just verbs and its conjugations, so that’s my tip.
Will taking any other subject help me be successful in this one?
Amanda: Essentially you can use the skills you use to study for French to apply to any other subject that is a language. So for example, like I said I study Malay as well so for me the techniques like the flashcards or certain study resources you can use for both subjects.
Overview by Ms Keita
Hi Year 9, I hope a lot of you are really considering taking French as an option as you opt for you IGCSE courses. It would be an excellent opportunity for so many reasons. There are so many reasons why French is an asset to have in life. If you want to travel as you become older or work abroad there are many many French-speaking countries around the world which are absolutely beautiful. You can visit Caribbean Islands, for example, Canada, and many places of course in Europe. Of course we have France but there’s also Switzerland and Belgium- places with beautiful mountains, beautiful sceneries, lots of things to do and lots of people to meet. So the world is your oyster.
We work quite frequently in groups but we also like to encourage in this subject independent study, so that you’re well equipped when you move on to A Levels or university. It really is, as I said, an excellent skill to have- not only does it open your mind to French and French culture but it also prepares you for the future of language learning. If you want to go on as an adult and learn other languages, having learnt one really gives you that grounding in grammar and understanding of how languages work. And so it really does help; as a student at school I only studied French but now as an adult I’ve gone on to learn Spanish and some Italian as well and it really helps me to have that background in the language. So I really hope you think about it over the next few weeks and make the decision and I look forward to seeing some of you enrolled in IGCSE in Year 10. Merci, au revoir!
Papers in IGCSE French
Paper 1: Listening
45 minutes aprox.
25% of total marks
Listening and answering comprehension questions.
Paper 2: Reading
25% of total marks
Reading and answering comprehension questions.
Paper 3: Speaking
Approximately 15 minutes
25% of total marks
Taken earlier in the year than other 3 exams. Candidates complete two role plays, a topic presentation/conversation and a general conversation.
Paper 4: Writing
25% of total marks
Written essays in varying format.