Updated: Aug 5, 2021
Strategic pointers from Adeline for acing your GCSE French Listening paper.
Exam season is now in full bloom, and oral exams are happening in schools throughout England at the moment. We know it can be a very stressful period, so this is why I have already tried to break things down into achievable steps in my previous blog post, which focused on the GCSE French Speaking Exam.
Today, I want to talk about the GCSE French Listening exam. My motto is still the same: come prepared! There are many things you cannot predict on exam day, but being familiar with the format and what to expect can have a huge impact on your performance on the day.
Once again, here’s a brief disclaimer: listen to your classroom teacher (and tutor, if you have a French tutor working with you!) first, as they know best what works for you depending on what specification your school is taking and on your own strengths and weaknesses. However, for most students taking GCSE French, especially on the AQA exam board, this is what the exam will look like — and what you should be prepared for.
Key facts and tips about the GCSE French Listening exam
- The Listening paper counts for 25% of the marks in your language.
- It is tiered: you can take the Foundation or the Higher Tier, and the exam will be slightly different for each. For the students entered on the Foundation Tier, the exam will last for a total of 35 minutes, and for students entered on the Higher tier, the exam will last for a total of 45 minutes.
- The speakers on the recording are native speakers. They speak in clearly articulated, standard speech. They tend to speak more slowly than most speakers would in everyday life.
- The recordings may be announcements, short conversations, instructions, news bulletins and telephone messages as well as more abstract material, such as short narratives.
- At the beginning of the exam, you will get 5 minutes to read through the questions. Use this time well: read everything carefully and use the questions as clues. I would also recommend that you focus on the category headings in bold, as they are an easy way to structure your expectations and understand what is going to come up.
- You will hear every excerpt twice, so you’ll always have a chance to double check your answers or listen for bits you’ve missed the first time!
What to expect for the GCSE French Listening paper
Let’s look at it in more detail. The exam has two sections, Section A and Section B.
In Section A, your understanding of the language is tested by a range of question types in English. The first ones are multiple choice questions, and require you to choose the correct answer by writing the correct letter in a box. Then, you will probably have to complete the sentences in English to paraphrase the information given in the recording.
The last questions are the most advanced: they ask you to list specific aspects of the recording (i.e. “two details”, “one advantage”, “one disadvantage”). In this part of the exam the recording gets a bit longer, so it is very important to read the question carefully to make sure you focus on spotting the relevant information.
In Section B, the overall pattern of the questions is the same, but the questions are in French, and you’re expected to give the answers in French. There are multiple choice questions both in Foundation and Higher Tier, but you’re only expected to write down answers in French in the Higher Tier.
One very useful thing to bear in mind is not to panic if you find that one excerpt is particularly tricky and you feel a bit lost: there are several series of questions and the topics tackled are independent from each other, so you may well have missed a section but still do very well at the next one. You’re also not expected to remember the material from one question to another, so do not give up and do your best in every category!
Vous êtes prêts? Bonne chance!
Blog Post Crafted by Adeline
Adeline manages the staff on our Admin Team, liaising with tutors, clients and applicants. She is responsible for processing the ID, Qualifications, DBS Check and References for all our newly joining tutors, as well as taking tuition enquiries, matching tutors to clients, and supporting tutors and clients throughout the process of tuition.