French IGCSE

French IGCSE

Develop your reading, writing, speaking and listening skills, through a range of relevant, engaging topics. Learn to convey key information in French, covering aspects of your life such as: family, hobbies, holidays, career aspirations and current affairs.

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 topic areas:

  • Area A: Everyday activities
  • Area B: Personal and social life
  • Area C: The world around us
  • Area D: The world of work
  • Area E: The international world

All students take the following four examinations:

  • Paper 1 Listening
  • Paper 2 Reading
  • Paper 3 Speaking
  • Paper 4 Writing

As well as building your language skills, you will explore different cultures, customs and values to gain a range of transferrable skills:

  • Confidence in working with information and ideas
  • Responsibility towards own learning
  • Innovation to cope with new challenges
  • Commitment to take any opportunity to strengthen knowledge of the language


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

  • Paper 1 Listening: students listen to a number of recordings and answer questions in French. The paper is divided into three sections and the examination lasts 45 minutes.
  • Paper 2 Reading: students read a number of texts and answer questions again in French. The paper is divided into three sections and the examination lasts 1 hour.
  • Paper 3 Speaking: students complete two role plays, a topic presentation with follow-up conversation and a general conversation. The examination is carried out by a teacher and lasts 15 minutes. It is recorded and assessed internally and moderated externally.
  • Paper 4 Writing: students have three different exercises and write exclusively in French. Section 1 has two questions: first students have to write a series of single words based on pictures and for the second question they are tasked to write 80-90 words. Section 2 gives the students a choice of three tasks, with each task consisting of 130-140 words. The examination lasts 1 hour.

The listening, reading and writing skills are assessed at the end of Year 11 as external examinations. The speaking skills are assessed in the Spring Term of Year 11.

At a glance
  • Syllabus: CIE IGCSE 0520
  • Four examinations (worth 25% each of the total grade)
  • Engaging topics
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.


Our results

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Beyond St Mary's

Our Senior School students go on to pursue exciting futures.

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