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Modern Languages A Level (french, german, spanish) at Birkdale School

Course description

French (7652); German (7662) and Spanish (7691)


Why study other languages when everyone speaks English?

Actually only about 6.5% of the world's population speak English as a first language. Researchers calculate that another 18.5% speak it as a second or foreign language which leaves 75% of the world population who don't understand a word. No-one would deny that English is now a global language, and that there has been a huge increase in English learning throughout the world - but that just means that the world is becoming more multilingual - and monolingual English speakers are being left behind. Over 60% of British trade is with non-English speaking countries.


Aren’t languages a difficult option?

The specifications build on the same skills as GCSE and so the transition to A level is a continuation of that. Moreover, in addition to the normal classes, you will have a weekly conversation lesson in a small group with one of our native-speaker language assistants to build up confidence and fluency as well as being able to benefit from a wealth of current and stimulating teaching materials.


So, why study modern languages?

The obvious reason for studying modern languages at A level is to develop the knowledge and skills acquired at GCSE level and therefore to be able to use French, German or Spanish in a wide range of contexts and with increased fluency and enjoyment. But there is more to it than that…


You can gain a useful insight into another culture…

You will learn more about the history and culture of the target-language countries. Finding out about other cultures will make you start to think about your own country and background.


It gives you transferable skills …

You will develop skills, such as communication and analysis which are of practical use in and is highly valued for almost any higher education course or career.


It could offer opportunities to travel, study and even work abroad …

An A level in a modern language will give you real possibilities to get abroad and meet people, visit places and see the sights. Over your two years of study, you will be given opportunities to participate in study visits, homestays and/ or work experience in Europe.


Entry requirements

Academically, it is expected that students entering Birkdale’s Sixth Form will have achieved a minimum of 5 passes (A* to C/ 9 to 5) at GCSE, with at least 4 at grade B/grade 6 or higher; we would expect B/6 or higher GCSE grades in those subjects being studied to A level. A grade 6 is required to study A Level English and Mathematics, although a grade 7 is preferred in Mathematics. Prospective Further Mathematicians should achieve a grade 7 in GCSE Mathematics although a grade 8 is preferred. However, at Birkdale we look beyond the academic and would wish applicants to become fully involved in the life of the school, offering their skills and abilities in one or more of a number of areas (e.g. drama, sport, music, clubs and societies, etc).


Subject content & assessment

Unit number & length of exam


Contribution to assessment





(2 hours 30 minutes)


100 marks

Listening, Reading and Writing on the following topics:

  • Social issues and trends
  • Political and artistic culture
  • Grammar



(2 hours)

80 marks


Two essays on either one text or one film or two texts from the list in the specification



(21 - 23 minutes including 5 minutes preparation time)

60 marks


A discussion of one sub-theme from Social issues and trends or Political and artistic culture

Presentation and discussion of an individual research project



Course books and resources


All the languages taught in the Department use a variety of materials, such as newspapers and magazines, film and video, and ICT as well as an exam-board specific course book. You will have a weekly timetabled lesson with one of our native speaker language assistants, either in a small group or individually in order to develop oral confidence and fluency.


Financial information

Please note that Birkdale is a fee-paying independent school. Further information regarding fees can be found on our website

Further information

Trips and Competitions


We strongly encourage sixth form linguists to participate in home-stay visits, study trips or undertake work experience to France, Germany or Spain. As a general rule, and where numbers are sufficient to make a trip viable, there will be opportunities offered for all three languages at some point in the two years of the course. Time spent abroad, living and breathing the language and culture of the country, is a highly desirable and extremely valuable part of Sixth Form language study. In addition, there are a number of regional and national competitions that sixth-form linguists participate in such as the Linguistics Olympiad, a regional French debating competition, War of the Words, as well as the Mother Tongue Other Tongue poetry competition.



You may wish to combine a subject at university with a language …

At many universities, modern languages can be studied with virtually any other subject in a combined degree, from fashion to politics, music to maths.


It will enhance your employment prospects …

In the job market, a second language is a demonstrable skill and will give you the edge on your competitors. Recent research shows that UK graduates in modern languages have one of the lowest unemployment rates and are recruited by a wide range of sectors including business, manufacturing, banking and finance.

How to apply

You can apply for this course through UCAS Progress. Add this course to your favourites so you can start making an application.

Last updated date: 26 October 2017

Key information

  • Start date: Next September
  • Duration: 2 years

Contact details