Welcome to the French Department! Bienvenue!

The French Department at Mountain Ash Comprehensive school is an innovative and well resourced Department. Our teachers are experienced, dedicated and hard working.

Description of subject and Department.

French is a popular subject at Mountain Ash Comprehensive school, with students at all levels of ability. The Department has produced some very impressive results both at GCSE and A level.

There are three teachers in the Department:

  • Mrs Harrison (Head of Department)
  • Mrs Latham (Assistant Head)
  • Miss E Wood

We use a range of teaching resources including the “Passe-Partout” text book which is enjoyed by pupils and staff alike. We further supplement this resource with our own worksheets which include a variety of texts and ICT equipment which enhances learning.

Topics are taught through the four skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing. Pupils are encouraged to participate actively in lessons in a safe and positive learning environment.

We incorporate fun activities into the lessons such as singing French songs, playing language games, using mini whiteboards, watching extracts of French clips on YouTube and using the interactive white board.

We encourage pupils to use ICT in French and we subscribe to a French language learning website that pupils can access both at home and at school.

The target language, French,  is used in all lessons and setting occurs at the end of Year 7. The setting is based on end of year examination results plus continuous assessments during the course.

Pupils receive regular homework and are formally assessed at the end of every topic.

Departmental Aims

We aim to make the learning of French as enjoyable as possible.

Overall, our aims are to provide learners with a rewarding experience to language learning and to develop their confidence to communicate in French. We aim to stimulate every pupil’s interest and enjoyment of learning a modern foreign language in a safe place of learning.

A brief description of KS3 course

French is taught to all pupils in years 7, 8 & 9 with pupils receiving four hours of French per fortnight in years 7 & 9 and 3 hours per fortnight in year 8.

In year 7, pupils study topics including personal introductions, food items, alphabet, dates, greetings, school life, classroom equipment, descriptions and free time activities.

In year 8, previous knowledge is then built upon and students learn topics including snacks, drinks, the Euro, family, weather, time, opinions and the Tour de France.

By Year 9, writing and grammar become more important although grammar both are introduced in a fun and stimulating way. Further topics of work studied in year 9 include Holidays, activities in the perfect tense, time idioms, future plans, illness, clothes and colours.

A brief description of KS4 course

French GCSE is a two year course that builds on subject content taught at KS3 and provides a suitable foundation for the study of French at ether AS or A level.

The French Department follows the WJEC Specification for GCSE at KS4. Although the Specification has recently changed, the topics remain the same.

The context for learning the language is organised under three broad themes:

  • Identity and Culture
  • Wales &the World – areas of interest
  • Current & Future study and employment


Unit 1: Speaking oral test                25% of qualification                                                           

7-9 minutes (Foundation tier)

10 -12 minutes (Higher tier)

Three tasks:

  • Role play
  • Photo card discussion
  • Conversation - part 1 & part 2

Unit 2: Listening written examination    25% of qualification

35 minutes (Foundation tier)

45 minutes (Higher tier)

Listening comprehension tasks with non-verbal & written responses.

Unit 3: Reading written examination      25% of qualification

1 hour (Foundation tier)

1 hour 15 minutes (Higher tier)

Reading tasks with non-verbal and written responses, including one translation task from French into English.

Unit 4: Writing written examination      25% of qualification

1 hour 15 minutes (Foundation tier)

1 hour 30 minutes (Higher tier)

Writing tasks including one translation task from English into French.

A brief description of KS5 course

The Department follows the WJEC Specification at AS & A2. The transition from GCSE to A level is handled sensitively by staff and each student’s progress is enhanced by the help of a foreign language assistant in weekly conversation classes in pairs or small groups.

What do students learn at AS?

Theme 1: Being a young person in French-speaking society

Family structures, traditional and modern values, friendships & relationships.

Youth trends, issues and personal identity.

Educational and employment opportunities.

Theme 2: Understanding the French-speaking world

Regional culture and heritage in France, French-speaking countries and communities.

Literature, art, film and music in the French-speaking world.

And at A level?

Theme 3: Diversity and difference

Migration and integration.

Cultural identity and marginalisation.

Cultural enrichment and celebrating difference.

Discrimination and diversity.

Theme 4: France 1940-1950:The Occupation and the post-war years.

From June 1940-May 1945 (Occupation, liberation and end of World War II).

Life in Occupied France and the cultural dimension (théâtre, cinéma, litérature).

1945-1950: rebuilding and restructuring.

Repercussions for modern day France.

Assessment at AS

Unit 1:Speaking                               12% of qualification

12-15 minutes (plus additional 15 minutes preparation)

Task 1: Arguing a point of view based on written stimulus card (5-6 minutes).

Task 2: Discussion based on a second written stimulus card with three questions (7-9 minutes).

Unit 2: Writing exam.                      28% of qualification

Written examination: 2 hours 30 minutes

Listening, reading, translation and critical response in writing.

Section A: Listening

Section B: Reading

Section C: Translation

Section D: Critical response in writing (approx.300 words)

For Unit 2 Section D, a feature film must be studied. The film that we will study at Mountain Ash Comprehensive School is “La Classe: entre les murs” by Laurent Cantet (2008).

Assessment at A level

Unit 3: Speaking                     18% of qualification

11-12 minutes

Task – Independent research project

This consists of a presentation and a follow up discussion of an independent research project.

Unit 4: Listening, reading and translation.

                                         30% of qualification

Written examination: 1 hour 45 minutes

Section A: Listening

Section B: Reading

Section C: Translation

Unit 5: Critical and analytical response in writing (closed-book).                                 12% of qualification

Students have to write an essay (approximately 400 words) based on the study of one literary work.

Website address for any exam specs: Wjec.co.uk

Extra-Curricular Activities

Transition: Pupils in Year 6 in our primary feeder schools have received French taster sessions.

Trips: Pupils will be offered the opportunity to visit France and enjoy a unique cultural experience.

Le Club Français: French club takes place every fortnight (Tuesday Week A) in room 201 with Mrs Harrison (1:45pm – 2:10pm). Games, songs and quizzes are just some of the wide range of activities involved.

EDL: European Day of Languages is celebrated each year in our school. Lessons are adapted to incorporate a European theme and even Café Macs brings a taste of Europe to Mountain Ash Comprehensive school.


Students hard a work


French trip to Paris


French trip