French gcse for the Unenthusiastic – What is it and what do I need to know?








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French GCSE for the Unenthusiastic – What is it and what do I need to know?
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OR
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How to Get at least a C Grade in French GCSE with the Minimum Effort
Including:
The new Edexcel GCSE: what do I have to be able to do?

Listening:

Strategies or How to Get More Marks Than I Deserve

Pairs of words which mean the same, or groups which are linked

Speaking:

Controlled Assessment: Wassat?

Tips or Ways of Cheating Legally

Simple, Basic Phrases which will save your skin

Words and Phrases to Worm into the Conversation

Reading:

Strategies or How to Get More Marks Than I Deserve

Pairs of words which mean the same, or groups which are linked

Writing:

Controlled Assessment: Wassat?

The French Teacher’s Commandments

Starting Sentences in an Interesting but Not Terribly Difficult Way

Linking Sentences in an Interesting but Really Incredibly Easy Way

Stylish, but Simple, Alternatives to Boring Words

Vocabulary

or All the French Words You Learned… But Forgot

Grammar

or What You Never Really Understood, And It’s Too Late Now (Or is it?)

The New Edexcel GCSE:

Unsurprisingly, you are going to have to do the following things as part of your French GCSE.

  1. Listen to some French and understand it.

  2. Speak some French so that other people can understand you.

  3. Read some French and understand it.

  4. Write some French which is not i) gobbledygook, or ii) heavily seasoned with English .

You are going to have to know vocabulary which fits into four different areas:

  1. Media & Culture

  2. Sport & Leisure

  3. Travel & Tourism

  4. Business, Work & Employment


Or e) Your teacher can select something completely different for you.

Listening Exam
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Your listening exam may last for around 45 mins to 1 hour. You'll be asked to listen to a cassette or CD in French and you will have to answer questions in English or French.
This is really important… In fact, let’s say that more loudly: This is really important: If the question is in English, answer in English; if it is in French, answer in French. If you answer in the wrong language, you won’t get the mark. Did you get that? You won’t get the mark.

You will be allowed to study the questions before the recording plays. You will hear each extract twice.

To answer some questions, you will be asked to:

  • tick to show you’ve got the correct answer

  • state whether an answer is true or false (vrai ou faux, in French)

  • write a letter or number to indicate the correct answer

  • write a word or phrase in French or English (see above)

  • complete a sentence

You don’t have to answer in full sentences, but make sure that you include all the details you have been asked for. There will be a number by each question to show how many marks are available. Use this as a guide to how much to answer.

Now there are certain things to remember about a Listening exam, which may seem obvious, but which are ever so easy to forget.

  1. It’s a Listening exam so it’s a good idea to listen. If you don’t, you’ll lose where you are and it will all go horribly wrong. It’s not easy to lose where you are because the tape is very clear, but if you start daydreaming about what you’re going to do with your mates at the weekend, it is possible.

  2. When you have your chance to read through the paper, try and think what you might expect to hear. If you’re in a doctor’s surgery, for example, might it be about something wrong with someone? What treatment would they receive? How long might they have had this ailment? Logic can take you a long way.

  3. Don’t leave any gaps! At all! Ever! Think about it. If you guess, you have a chance of getting it right. Especially if you’ve done 1. and 2. A blank space never got a mark.

Linked VocabularyOkay. This is really important for the Listening and the Reading exam.

In the text you have to listen to or read there will be words which you will be expected to know. They will not be the same words which crop up in the questions on the paper, but they will be linked in some way, either they will be synonyms or they will be related in meaning.

Once you’ve got the hang of this, you will find it very, very, VERY helpful.

École – collège – lycée

La natation - nager - piscine - maillot de bain
L’équitation - faire du cheval - le cheval
Le cyclisme - faire du vélo - le VTT
L’hiver - froid - décembre - geler - Noël
Intéressant - beaucoup à faire - passionnant
Discuter - conversation - communication - parler
Difficile - compliqué
Long - prend des heures
Le sport - take your pick !!!
Les ordinateurs - surfer l’internet - jeux - informatique
La lecture - lire - livres - magazines - romans
Les amis - les copains - les copines - rencontrer
Se relaxer - se détendre
Conduire - rouler - la voiture - l’auto - l’automobiliste - conducteur - chauffeur
Il pleut - pluvieux
Il fait beau - il fait du soleil - le soleil brille
Petit déjeuner - matin
Déjeuner - midi
Dîner - soir
Manger - repas - plat
Boire - boisson
Bijouterie - bijoux - boucle d'oreille - collier - bague
Été - juillet - aout - grandes vacances
Hiver - décembre - Noël - froid
Télé - petit écran - émission
Cinéma - grand écran - film
Devoirs - travail - études
Plage - se baigner - nager - bronzer - sable
Difficile - pas facile ( Beware of negatives+ opposite !)
Ennuyeux - pas intéressant ( Beware of negatives+ opposite !)
Future tense: l'année prochaine - dans 2 ans
past tense: l'année dernière - il y a 2 ans

Add any more examples which you come across here :

Speaking – Controlled Assessment

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Throughout your GCSE course you will do some controlled assessments in which you will be required to speak. In French. It’s kind of what learning French is all about. The clue is in the word ‘French’.

Think of it this way; if you can get used to speaking to your teacher in French, you might soon be able to talk to much more interesting people in French, some of them even... well... French.

Your teacher will not only take the test but will also be the one who marks you. You’ll choose with your teacher from the following activities:

  1. an open interaction. This will be like a non-scripted play and could relate to what we teachers used to call ‘role plays’, the kind of thing you’ve been doing since all those years ago in Year 7.

  2. a discussion of a photograph or picture of something personal to you. You will talk about what’s in the picture and then your teacher will ask you extra questions about it.

  3. A short presentation about something, ANYTHING, that interests you., followed by a discussion with your teacher.

The nice thing about doing these as you go along is that you get used to being RECORDED. Yes. That did say RECORDED. You might be using a microphone OR talking into a digital voice recorder. It is therefore really important that you speak clearly and make every word count.

The conversation is an opportunity for you to show off your speaking skills! No, we’re not being funny – if you prepare, you will find you have a lot of speaking skills to show off. And you’ll have time in class to prepare, with all your books, for your actual assessment. USE IT!!!!

Don’t get completely freaked out and say ‘um...’ a lot. ‘Um’ is not a French word. If, however, you do do this, don’t worry – you will have other opportunities to do it better.

You may do two or three over the two years, or you may do more. At the end of the course your teacher will choose the best assessments, the ones which will get you the most marks, and send them off to the Edexcel exam board.

Let’s look at the tasks in a bit more detail:

Open Interaction:

This is a bit like an unscripted play, with broad guidelines as to what you’re supposed to say, some of them in words and some in pictures.

This might be an example:


C: Travel and tourism

http://t0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:pptknhucsq9yjm:https://www.trussvillecityschools.com/teachers/rebekah.richards/art%2520gallery/art%2520for%2520lessons/eiffel%2520tower%2520drawing.jpg http://t1.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:9izt05fmxxls4m:http://thepurplejournal.files.wordpress.com/2008/06/cartoon_airplane_aobi.jpg http://t2.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:9atyfcksjlnkjm:http://www.clipartguide.com/_thumbs/0511-0810-2001-2851.jpg

http://t1.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ln_hztziprcmzm:http://www.lavignon.info/region/chateaux/files/page17_1.gif http://t1.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ap2jivmvzxv-9m:http://www.clker.com/cliparts/b/0/6/b/12065600311481821297johnny_automatic_fish_on_a_plate.svg.hi.png

Information for candidates

Situation:

You are being interviewed for an article in a French magazine about a visit you have made to France. Your teacher will play the part of the reporter and will start the conversation.

Task:

He/She will ask you:

  • where you went and how you travelled

  • where you stayed and what you ate

  • what you did and what you saw

  • what you thought of the trip

  • about any differences between the place you visited and the place you live

  • where you would like to go in the future and why


Be prepared to ask questions in your discussion.


Open Interaction

There are certain things examiners want you to show you can do when you speak French.

  • construct sentences

  • answer questions

  • ask questions

  • use the right tense

  • use more than one tense

  • express opinions

  • (in order to get higher marks) make comparisons

Make sure you know what the questions are going to sound like when they come out of your teacher’s mouth. Make sure you know the KEY WORDS, so that if a question is slightly different to what you expected you won’t get flustered and lose it.

Have answers prepared for each of the questions, as full as possible so that you don’t find yourself looking like a guppy out of water when you don’t understand a follow-on question. Make notes below. Merge answers together to avoid having to answer more and more questions. Remember the LINKING WORDS and express OPINIONS.

A discussion of a photograph or picture

c:\users\frances\pictures\cafe.jpg

d: Business, Work and Employment

You might have brought in a picture of the café where you have a part-time job. You could:

  • say what hours you work

  • describe what you have to do

  • describe what your colleagues are like

  • say what you think of the job – use lots of description!

  • maybe move on to talk about what you want to do for a job in the future.

Then your teacher will ask you questions which lead on from your discussion.

In your preparation time think what questions might arise. There will be a limited number. Remember that your teacher WANTS YOU TO DO WELL, and will therefore ask questions that THEY THINK YOU’LL KNOW THE ANSWER TO.

This last bit is tricky because all they have to go on is what they KNOW they’ve TAUGHT you. But since they don’t know that you’ve LEARNED what they’ve taught you, it’s kind of up to you to make sure that you have.

They won’t be asking you about

  • the history of the coffee trade in the UK

for instance, but they might ask you perhaps

  • How long have you worked there? (Use ‘ depuis’ to answer, obv.)

  • Have you had any other jobs?

Presentation

b: Sport and Leisure

Maybe you’re really interested in football. Talk about it! Maybe you play on the school team and also for a club on Saturdays. Maybe you’ve been playing for several years. You can say why you like it. You can describe your coach and give your opinion of him/her. You can talk about the last match you played and say whether you won or lost and what the score was.

This will cover lots of what you’re supposed to cover:

  • tenses

  • opinions

  • linking

And then your teacher will ask you a few questions.

The key to presentations is to talk about something which really interests you because you’ll find more to say.

Don’t decide to talk about the future of space travel in the Far East unless it’s something you’re passionate about, because you’ll dry up and end up looking like a rabbit trapped in the headlights – sorry, a lapin trapped in the phares.

Asking questions.
Obviously it’s good in a conversation for your to be able to ask questions or it’ll be a bit one-sided, so it’s REALLY IMPORTANT for you to know your QUESTION WORDS.
Do / Does / Did?
First of all, let’s deal with “do”. Every year loads of people ask us

How do you say ‘do’ in French, Miss/Sir?”

And we say,

In what context?”

and they say

“Like do you like fish, Miss.”
If you think about it, ‘do’ (or its close neighbours does’ or ‘did’) means nothing at all in these sentences. All ‘do’ or ‘did’ does is to indicate that this is a question.
The way you do this in French is to use the phrase “Est-ce que...?” If you put “Est-ce que...” before a statement, it turns the statement into a question. Like DO does. ( If you see what we mean.)
Tu aimes le poisson - you like fish.

Est-ce que tu aimes le poisson ? - DO you like fish ?
Je sais parler français - I know how to speak French.

Est-ce que je sais parler français ? - DO I know how to speak French ?
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