How to Pass GCSE French
GCSEs for Modern foreign languages may decline in the UK, but French remains the most popular language GCSE with many schools insisting you take it. If you're working on your French GCSE and finding it hard to study or revise effectively, here's how to pass with flying colours.
Work on past papers
Past papers are helpful in so many ways. Aside from helping you get used to questions and how they are asked, they also highlight your weaker areas. Start by testing yourself with the questions and answers but as your mocks and exams get closer, take the past papers under timed exam conditions. This will help to improve your timing in exams and the quality of your answers.
Also, use these papers to get to know all the main question words such as - combien, quand, qui, comment and the popular elements of the paper that always come up such as the negatives - ne plus, ne jamais, ne rien etc.
Finally, don't forget to mark your past papers, as this is how you will spot those small mistakes that often cost your marks and see your weak areas that need more work.
Understand the breakdown of the exam
Exam specifications differ slightly, but most French exams are broken down into listening, speaking, and writing. The listening exam is usually 45 minutes long and worth 25% of your exam mark. The speaking exam is about 10 minutes long and also accounts for 25% of your overall grade. Finally, the reading and writing papers are written exams that last for an hour each and are 25% each of your overall mark.
This is important to know when it comes to revision timetables and how much time to need to allot to each part of the subject.
Immerse yourself in French
There are two types of learning when it comes to learning a language, passive and productive. Passive skills are reading and listening, while practical skills are speaking and writing.
This means nothing will help more with the listening exam than exposing yourself to French programmes, radio and podcasts constantly. You can also yourself by watching your favourite films in French on Netflix (no subtitles as these detract from listening). Also, listen daily to French podcasts and French radio on the app Radio France, and watch the French news channels on YouTube or French programmes.
Use free versions of language apps to help with revision
If all your usual techniques for revising French aren't working, try changing it up by using one of the many language apps.
The Babbel app allows you to practice French at beginners or advanced levels, and you can do anywhere from 30 minutes to 4 hours a week with interactive exercises. While the Mondly app is also great to use on the go from your phone. It comes with vocabulary and even offers a chatbot with which you can hold virtual conversations.
Increase your vocabulary
You can never have enough French vocabulary under your belt for GCSE, especially if you learn vocabulary related to the popular topics that often come up in exams. Topics relating to daily activities, food, sport and holidays are all worth doing. Also, if you have a favourite pastime or hobby, learn words for those too, as this will help in the spoken and written exam.
What can also help here is either create your vocab book, note down words you don't understand in past papers, or use Quizlet to create vocab sets or use the sets on the app. The best part about Quizlet is it's based on the information you input, so you can take quizzes related to your topics, get access to other people's flashcards for your revision.
Work with someone
Finally working with a peer is a perfect way to practice your spoken French, learn more vocabulary and generally improve your understanding. If this doesn't work for you, consider working with a French Tutor who will be able to do all of the above and help you with your exam technique and confidence in your spoken and written French.