Languages – GCSE and A-Level

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Languages are a common choice at GCSE with around half of students choosing at least one language to study. There are many languages available:

Modern Languages:

  • French – French has a long history as an international language of literature and scientific standards and is a primary or second language of many international organisations and countries.
  • Spanish – Spanish is a global language with nearly 500 million native speakers, mainly in Spain and the Americas. Spanish is one of the six official languages of the United Nations, and it is also used as an official language by the European Union.
  • German – German is widely taught as a foreign language, especially in Europe, where it is the third most taught foreign language after English and French. The language has been influential in the fields of science and technology.
  • Italian – Italian is an official language in Italy, Switzerland (Ticino and the Grisons), San Marino, and Vatican City. Italian is, by most measures and together with Sardinian, the closest language to Latin.
  • Arabic – Arabic is widely taught in schools and universities and is used to varying degrees in workplaces, government and the media. Arabic, in its standard form, is the official language of 26 states. It has influenced many other languages around the globe throughout its history. It is written with the Arabic alphabet, which is an abjad script and is written from right to left.

Ancient Languages:

  • Latin –  Latin is an ancient language, it was the language of international communication, scholarship and science until well into the 18th century. Latin has contributed many words to the English language.
  • Greek – Greek is the official language in Greece and Cyprus, and one of the official languages of the European Union nowadays. It has the longest documented history of any living Indo-European language. Greek an Latin are the predominant sources of international scientific vocabulary.
  • Hebrew – Hebrew is an ancient language. Modern Hebrew is the official language of the State of Israel. As a foreign language, it is studied mostly by Jews and students of Judaism and Israel, by archaeologists and linguists specializing in the Middle East and its civilizations, and by theologians in Christian seminaries.


For the most common languages the struture of the course and the exam system will be similar to that outlined below.

Foundation Grades: G, F, E, D, C

Higher Grades: D, C, B, A, A*

The course is divided into four skills

Foundation: 35 Minute Exam

Higher: 45 Minute Exam

The listening exam is answering questions in an exam based on a voice recording played for each question.

The writing skill is now coursework based, with 3 pieces of coursework, approximately 3/4 to 1 side of A4 each, all in the target-language.

1 piece of coursework must be done under exam conditions.

Foundation: 30 Minute Exam

Higher: 50 Minute Exam

The reading paper is a question paper based on target language-English and English-target-language translation and answering questions in the corresponding language (ie. Answering questions written in the target-language, in English and vise-versa)

Foundation: 8-10 Minutes

Higher: 10-12 Minutes

The set-out of the speaking exam is as following:

– Short Role Play

– 1 Minute Presentation with discussion

– General Conversation

All speaking must be in the target-language, and is recorded for playback.

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