GCSE Modern Forgeign Languages

At KS4 pupils build on the skills that they have already acquired and deepen their knowledge of the language learnt at KS3. There are also options to learn a second foreign language if desired. Languages are a great foundation and facilitating subject leading to employment or further education. Many universities (particularly Russell Group members) insist on a good GCSE in a modern foreign language for entry to their courses.

"A different language is a different vision of life" – Federico Fellini

Course description

In an increasingly internationally competitive marketplace, it is vital that young people learn other foreign languages and have an appreciation of different ways of life. A 2009 study by the Confederation of British Industries revealed that 74% of employers want to employ people with foreign language skills. Language learning opens up many opportunities to travel, meet new people and experience other cultures, which ultimately enhances and enriches our own lives and perspectives. Language skills are not only highly sought after by employers, they have been proven to improve cognitive and creative abilities, such as problem solving, prioritising and multitasking. Recent research has even shown that learning a foreign language can delay the onset if dementia!

Other key language facts from languageswork.org.uk

  • Only 6% of the world’s population speak English as a first language
  • 75% of the world’s population don’t speak any English at all
  • 74% of employers are looking to employ people with conversational language skills
  • Studying a foreign language improves your oral and written skills in English too, and also helps develop key communication skills that are crucial in the workplace
  • One in five exporting companies say they are losing trade because of language and cultural barriers.
  • 49% of employers are disappointed with graduates’ foreign language skills.

At Archbishop Holgate’s School we offer the opportunity for pupils to develop their language skills and abilities thoroughly, which then means that pupils can apply their language skills to learning other foreign languages later in life, whether for business or pleasure.

At KS4 all pupils continue to study their main language to GCSE level, building on the topics and skills studied at KS3. Pupils are also offered the opportunity to study a second language, Spanish, applying the skills that they have already acquired in their first language on a more intensive three-year course leading to GCSE accreditation. Students from York University also volunteer their time to support pupils in lessons, small groups or individually.

Lessons are varied and make use of a variety of different resources that allow pupils to practise and develop the four language skills of speaking, listening, reading and writing. Homework will build on the learning in lessons in these four areas as well as consolidate key vocabulary. All pupils would benefit from access to a good quality dictionary for completing work at home, and should avoid using online translators, which results in limited understanding and inaccurate work. Pupils are regularly assessed and frequently use peer and self-assessment in lessons.

The syllabus will be divided into four topic areas:  Lifestyle, Leisure, Home and local area, and Work and Education.

What skills do I need to be successful?

You will need to be organised and complete all work thoroughly and to the best of your ability. You should be prepared to participate fully in active and engaging lessons.  You will be expected to read materials in German/French/Spanish using a dictionary to compile vocabulary lists, speak and write in detail, learn vocabulary regularly and complete listening tasks in school and at home. The course will develop your problem solving skills and ability to communicate clearly including expressing opinions, using different tenses and writing structured essays.

What will I need to do outside of the lessons?

Regular homework will be given and you will need to revise and study independently.  Homework may or may not be written and could include translation and grammar practice, working on extended pieces of writing, practising role-plays, revising tense formation or learning vocabulary.  Extra reading materials are available in school, and are easily accessible on the internet.  There are TV programmes/ interactive resources which can help with revision, or can be used to develop listening skills.

What equipment will I need to provide?

A dictionary to help with new vocabulary and spelling. Access to a grammar workbook and revision guide would also be advantageous and is strongly recommended.

What happens when you have finished?

A language GCSE is a well-respected qualification by colleges, universities and employers.  It will help you to stand out from the crowd and shows that you have important skills such as resilience, problem solving, communication and are an outward-facing person. It helps you to improve your command of English and understanding of grammar. You will be able to learn other languages more easily and also be knowledgeable about a range of topics including the environment, healthy living, social issues, international cultures and travel.


Bienvenue! French is a useful asset for anyone looking to work in the European Union. It is an official language of the European Union and of its three political centres, Brussels, Strasbourg and Luxemburg City. 67.8 Million people speak French as their main language and it is spoken in 60 counties around the world. Most native speakers live in France, however, there are also a high number living in Quebec (Canada), Switzerland, Belgium and a number of African countries.

 In a recent skills survey, French was highlighted along with German as being the language that is most sought after in Britain by companies specifically looking for people with language skills. French is the third most common language on the internet after English and German and one of the romance languages along with Spanish, Italian, Portugese and Romanian – so learning these after learning French is much easier!


Willkommen! German is the most widely spoken language in the European Union and the second most frequently used language on the internet after English. There are currently 90.3 Million people who speak German as their first language and it is spoken in 43 countries world-wide. In a recent skills survey, German was highlighted along with French as being the language that is most sought after in Britain by companies specifically looking for people with language skills.

The German economy is the largest in Europe and the third largest in the world, so learning German is great for future business opportunities. German is still a leading language of science, literature, art, philosophy and history. Not only that, Germany, Austria and Switzerland are fantastic countries to visit on holiday, with vibrant cities such as Berlin, the Oktoberfest in Munich and the cultural sights of Vienna to investigate.


¡Bienvenido! Many people learn Spanish because Spain is a popular tourist destination. However, Spanish is also becoming an increasingly important language for international trade with Latin America and the United States. Over 450 Million people speak Spanish worldwide, making it the second most spoken language in the world in terms of native speakers.

There are many reasons to travel to Spain and try out your language skills, including the beautiful beaches, mountains, great weather, food and of course FCB (or Real Madrid..!)

Exam board

  • AQA

Course code

  • German – 8668
  • French – 8658
  • Spanish – 8698

Exam board website

Link to past papers

Please be aware teaching for this new GCSE specification began in September 2016 and the first examinations will be in 2018. As such there are no past papers available. Specimen assessment material can be found at http://www.aqa.org.uk/subjects/languages/gcse/french-8658/assessment-resources


Pupils are regularly assessed throughout this course with the final GCSE grade being equally weighted between the four skills (25% each for reading, writing, speaking and listening examinations). Pupils receive a course handbook at the start of Y10 with detailed information about the topics to be studied and the external examination format at the end of Year 11. Work done in KS3 in both general lessons and assessments directly prepares pupils for the rigorous requirements of the GCSE examination.

Ways to help my child succeed

  • Ensure that they have access to a dictionary, study/revision guide and grammar guide for use at home
  • Remind them to Pack a dictionary on the days that they have languages
  • Do not let them use online translators
  • Be positive about foreign language learning and other cultures
  • Encourage them to see their teacher if they need extra help
  • Communicate regularly with teachers when necessary
  • Encourage them to attend the after school support and catch up/revision classes as necessary
  • Monitor completion of homework

Useful websites

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