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A Level French or Sociology?

(76 Posts)
LimeOrange Tue 05-Nov-19 11:56:18

Dd needs to submit her choices for Sixth Form soon. She wants to do Maths and Biology as definites. She gets good grades for them. (8s)

She did want to do Sociology as her third option which she has studied at GCSE. She got 7 for that in the last exams.

She now thinks she wants to do French and can't decide between that and Sociology. She gets 8s in French.

She doesn't know what she wants to do later.

Something else to mention is that her exam grades can sometimes be affected by her not writing fast enough and not finishing. This tends to affect essay subjects, but not so much Maths, Science, French so far. It was mentioned by her Sociology teacher at the last parents' eve. He said it could be addressed by doing lots of practice of timed essays to speed up.

I'm thinking French may be the better option in light of the above, and because it may be more useful, although she wishes she could do both. I guess how useful either might be would depend on what she ends up wanting to do.

I suggested that if she decides to do an EPQ as her enrichment option, perhaps she could choose to do it about an aspect of Sociology, so she doesn't have to drop it completely.

Any thoughts? Thanks

OP’s posts: |
Pepperpot99 Tue 05-Nov-19 11:57:58

In what way is this question an AIBU?

LimeOrange Tue 05-Nov-19 11:58:04

Oops, i didn't mean this to be in AIBU. I'll ask for it to be moved.

OP’s posts: |
LimeOrange Tue 05-Nov-19 11:59:33

I've asked for it to be moved to Secondary Education

OP’s posts: |
oreomum Tue 05-Nov-19 12:02:26

Most schools allow changes after results day so it might be easier to just flip a coin and pick one then see how she feels closer to the time. My dd thought she knew what A levels she wanted to do this time last year but changed her mind before y12 and does a different combination now.

Trewser Tue 05-Nov-19 12:02:52

Maths and Biology are tough. French is harder than Sociology so I'd say Sociology on that basis.

honeyloops Tue 05-Nov-19 12:03:45

I would say French - far more useful (and I studied sociology at uni).

MollyHuaCha Tue 05-Nov-19 12:06:16

French is an enabling subject.
Sociology is not.

But the work effort required for French will be more.

ImportantWater Tue 05-Nov-19 12:07:40

Does she want to go to university and know what she wants to study? Universities might prefer French to sociology.

LIZS Tue 05-Nov-19 12:10:32

French will include essay writing in both English and French. It is probably a better subject to demonstrate academic rigour than Sociology.

WellTidy Tue 05-Nov-19 12:10:34

I believe that languages are hard at A level, if you're not either a frequent visitor to the country where they're spoken, or talk with a fluent speaker regularly. I found French at A level far harder than Maths, having exactly the same grade at GCSE. I do think French is more useful than Sociology, but if she's just looking for a subject she enjoys and can get a good grade in, I think Sociology could be easier.

LeekMunchingSheepShagger Tue 05-Nov-19 12:12:05

French would be more useful to her than sociology.

Nomad86 Tue 05-Nov-19 12:15:13

I would say French. It gives her more options if she decides to go to university. There are lots of joint honours (eg french and business studies) degrees if she decides to take her languages further.

Pollaidh Tue 05-Nov-19 12:15:38

It sounds like she's happier on the science/maths side, so maybe have a look at some university courses for science (including less mainstream like astrophysics, geology, biochemistry), maths, engineering, and see what subjects they will accept. If she's a high performing student likely to go to a top university, they will often have more stringent requirements both in terms of grade and A-level subjects.

Still do the extra essay training though as science degrees have a lot of essays too!

Vella Tue 05-Nov-19 12:19:13

French! I did french and maths for a'level (admittedly a long time ago now). Was advised against sociology, psychology etc as "too wishy-washy" and universities preferred more traditional subjects. Now use both in my career.

delmartric8 Tue 05-Nov-19 12:22:13

French over sociology. Languages do involve a lot of work at A level (one of mine is doing 2). Essay writing involves writing about films/book/plays in the target language but they are quite short (depending on board of course) - approx 300 words.

Trewser Tue 05-Nov-19 12:41:05

Only you know if she can cope with three hard subjects. I always think two facilitating and one non is a good balance. Unless she wants to do French at uni then I'd think twice, its hard to get an A in.

LimeOrange Tue 05-Nov-19 12:41:08

Thanks. These replies are really useful. I'll be able to reply properly in an hour or two. She thinks she does want to go to University but doesn't yet know what to study. The suggestions a poster made about university subjects for her to consider are very helpful thanks

OP’s posts: |
Zodlebud Tue 05-Nov-19 12:41:42

I would say if your daughter is even remotely considering doing biology at university in the future then the majority of courses require chemistry too.

I was in the same situation as your daughter many moons ago. Maths and biology were definites but I then chose English as my third choice as I loved it. I got excellent grades in all three but my university choices to study biology were limited by the lack of chemistry.

If she doesn’t want a science career then go with which one she likes the best.

cakeisalwaystheanswer Tue 05-Nov-19 12:48:53

Maths/Bio/French is a challenging combination and would have been DD's first choice if A levels were a level playing field but she has now dropped the French in favour of something less demanding.

I have attached the Ofqual investigation into the difficulty of sciences and MFL compared to other A levels. In summary A level sciences are very difficult but because sciences are popular with the very able bringing down the grade boundaries would only make a bigger pool of those getting the top grades so there is no inclination to do so. And MFL entries, particularly for French and German, have dropped to numbers that would be seen as a crisis in any other country. This is because of the large number of native speakers sitting who obviously dominate the top grades, and every year this has more of an impact as less non-native speakers sit the exam.

DD's school made it very clear that an A* in French was very unlikely for a non-native speaker and that getting an A would require very hard work. Most non-native pupils have dropped the language option. So we now have the ridiculous situation where most people sitting A level French are not actually learning a language, they are sitting an exam in a language they already know and the numbers actually learning a language beyond GCSE are even lower than the numbers show. I am very upset that DD has dropped French but I can see that it is the sensible choice as she will need good A level grades.

assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/757841/ISC_Decision_Document_20.11.18.pdf

Ndotto Tue 05-Nov-19 12:54:35

Languages are hard at A Level (I speak from experience having started French and dropping it for Sociology which I loved) but if she is good at French I think it is a prestigious A Level to have. She needs to enjoy the subject and be happy though so I think she should follow her instincts. And you can always swap in the first couple of weeks (my daughter also did this swapping Further Maths for Geography). Good luck xxx

PandaandCat Tue 05-Nov-19 14:34:38

Can she get hold of the curriculum for each of the options if not already - I remember starting French A Level and was nothing like I expected and quickly changed out of it. In my day it was almost all literature.

It may also be worth looking at some careers that maybe of interest and seeing what you need to get there. Would also look at all possible degree courses she may be interested in and requirements. I don't think it matters much between the two (I would go for Sociology) but maybe best to check if say in future she would like to be a certain job it doesn't require a certain degree and A levels. I would be particularly careful with anything in the science field. If it makes no difference go with what she enjoys most.

LimeOrange Tue 05-Nov-19 14:36:48

Some really good points made here, thank you! I hadn't thought about the grade boundaries being affected by the type of students who opt for the subjects.

Dd has an interview with a sixth form tutor to discuss options, although I think this is after she submits the form.

She gets high grades in English, so seems to do ok with essays other than the slowness. I guess slowness could affect her more at A level.

I'm thinking 3 hard A levels plus an EPQ may be too much. Her teachers will be able to advise her more. Only thing is they think she is a very motivated student as she always gives in homework and revises, but they don't realise she tends to leave things to the last minute (procrastinator,) which i know you may be able to get away with at GCSE but A level not so much!

Good point about Chemistry often being needed for Biology degrees. She does well at Chemistry but doesn't enjoy it as much as the subjects she wants to study. I'll mention that to her though

Thanks again

OP’s posts: |
afternoonspray Tue 05-Nov-19 14:37:14

French is more useful. You don;t have to have done any sociology before if you chose it at uni but you do have to have done French. And in UK rates of pupils takimg modern languages have dropped so steeply that she'll have a valuable skill most others don't which could give her the edge for employment. (I had a brilliant very well paid job as a tour guide in my gap year because I spoke French.)

Tensixtysix Tue 05-Nov-19 14:38:40

French is more useful. Sociology is like RE. Waste of time. Do they offer Psychology instead? That's classed as a 'science'.

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