French GCSE

French GCSE

Develop your reading, writing, speaking and listening skills, through a range of relevant, engaging topics. Learn to convey key information in French, covering themes such as identity and culture; local area, holiday and travel; future aspirations, study and work.

Why St Mary's

Develop your knowledge of the French language, supported and inspired by teachers who are passionate about this subject. You will learn in our newly refurbished suite of language classrooms, with access to the latest French resources including online ActiveLearn tasks selected to complement each lesson.

A good working knowledge of French is enormously useful. It not only gives access to France’s rich and vibrant culture, it also opens up the entire francophone world which spans the globe, including Tahiti, French Polynesia, Quebec, Switzerland and several African countries.

Our enriched learning opportunities can include:

  • Language week activities
  • Cinema and theatre trips to see French productions
  • DuoLingo school competition
  • Opportunities for summer work experience in France
  • Extension work in Year 11 to introduce A Level topics

Course overview

The syllabus content is organised around five themes, each broken down into topics and sub-topics:

  • Identity and culture
  • Local area, holiday and travel
  • School
  • Future aspirations, study and work
  • International and global dimension

All students take the following four examinations:

  • Paper 1 Listening and understanding in French
  • Paper 2 Speaking in French
  • Paper 3 Reading and understanding in French
  • Paper 4 Writing in French


All students take the following four examinations, each worth 25% of the final grade:

  • Paper 1 Listening: Students are assessed on their understanding of spoken French. Foundation Tier assessment is 35 minutes and Higher Tier assessment is 45 minutes.
  • Paper 2 Speaking: Students are assessed on their ability to communicate and interact effectively through speaking French. The assessment covers three core tasks: role play, a picture-based task and conversation.
  • Paper 3 Reading: Students are assessed on their understanding of written French across a range of different text types, including advertisements, emails, letters, articles and literary texts. Foundation Tier assessment is 45 minutes. Higher Tier assessment is 1 hour.
  • Paper 4 Writing: Students produce various responses of varying lengths to express facts, opinions and ideas in French. Foundation Tier assessment is 1 hour and 10 minutes. Higher Tier assessment is 1 hour and 20 minutes.

The listening, reading and writing skills are assessed at the end of Year 11 as external examinations. The speaking skills are assessed in the Summer Term of Year 11. There is no controlled assessment in this subject.

At a glance
You will enjoy this course if you ...
  • Enjoy language studies
  • Are interested in other cultures
  • Plan to travel or work abroad
  • Have good attention to detail

What our teachers say...

“My European friends inspire me; I have gained so much from our friendships that I want the next generation to establish similar life-long connections abroad. And their mastery of our language drives me on to help the English gain a similar proficiency in their language.”

"One language sets you in a corridor for life. Two languages open every door along the way." Frank Smith, Psycholinguist

On a personal level, studying French at IGCSE or A Level will increase your job opportunities and creates opportunities to enjoy a cultured and varied lifestyle. It also boosts your level of self-confidence and is incredibly rewarding.

On a more general level, the study of languages establishes deep connections and cross-cultural interactions resulting in a better understanding between groups, businesses and countries. Learning a foreign language helps promote cooperation between different countries, building a future of peace and collaboration.

At university, studying French can be combined with another language or it complements a range of other subjects including business studies, economics, law, politics, psychology or tourism.

Studying French opens up a diverse range of career paths, in fields such as translation, interpretation, diplomacy, journalism, education, film, politics and law.


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