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A'level in French - without literature? NORMAL??

(18 Posts)
McCloudsextoy Tue 22-Sep-09 20:55:54

My friend has just realized that her son's French A'level does not include reading any books, merely articles and watching a couple of movies.

The boy wants to study Modern Languages at College, but will any decent university take him seriously considering he has NEVER read a book in French? I did A'level French and had to read and write essays about quite a few novels. Is this normal?

Genau Tue 22-Sep-09 21:07:34

Totally normal.DD readnovels for her A level French, but none for German- only films and articles. She is studying German at a Russell Group uni. Think A levels are very differentnow, but doesn't stand them in good stead for when they get to uni and do have to read novels!

dogonpoints Tue 22-Sep-09 21:09:00

Part of the further sidelining of modern foreign languages at British schools. It's a sad and shocking business.

McCloudsextoy Tue 22-Sep-09 21:12:01

Appalling! How will he be able to cope with proper reading at University? I really wonder how common this is..

moondog Tue 22-Sep-09 21:13:18

Blimey,that is shocking.I did French A level and at uni and read plenty of books.

Articles and movies.
Bloody hell.

ShrinkingViolet Tue 22-Sep-09 21:16:44

I was shocked too at Open Evening when DDs German teacher told me they didn't do literature any more at A level. God, the hours we spent translating crap fascinating stuff. I can still remember chunks of a couple of my "standard" essays, and I do a mean rendition of the ghost scene from the audio play version of Biedermann und die Brandstifter which had us in hysterics one Saturday morning.
Gah, kids today, don't know they're born, mutter mutter mutter

stealthsquiggle Tue 22-Sep-09 21:17:18

I never did quite get the point of reading books in French and writing essays about them in English - it was the one part of my French A Level I never much liked, but then I was/am basically a scientist doing French as an 'extra' A level, so they were the only essays I had to write.

Not reading books at all does very sound dubious to me - I loved reading the books, it was analysing the flipping things that annoyed me grin.

AvengingGerbil Tue 22-Sep-09 21:17:20

I did Moliere and Therese Desqueyroux and Alain-Fournier for A level. And they say standards aren't dropping...

Horton Tue 22-Sep-09 21:17:56

I think that's really sad. Can he move to a college or school where they do an A Level with a more challenging syllabus? If he's a bright boy, no doubt he will manage and get in somewhere decent and cope. But how sad that he's not being given the opportunity to be stretched a little more at this age.

McCloudsextoy Tue 22-Sep-09 21:21:36

I just wonder if this is normal...are there places where they can also study Literature? Ohhh, I loved Le Grand Meaulnes....smile

Zoya Tue 22-Sep-09 21:34:37

Yes, this is normal at A-level. And increasingly, it's possible to get a degree in Modern Languages (from a 'good' university) without studying much in the way of literature. You might do modules in something like film studies/contemporary German politics/Italian history/Latin American music instead - depending on which language you're learning.

So he is unlikely to be particularly disadvantaged in terms of coping at university. Nevertheless, it's a shame in itself, I agree.

cory Wed 23-Sep-09 08:02:08

What Zoya said. Had an extremely bright undergraduate in my class who was doing French as his main subject, so naturally I asked him what books they were reading (remembering how my friends who did French at uni put on Moliere in their first year), He said they didn't. Seems a shame.

Anyway, I'd buy this boy some nice books if I were your friend. However much you may be able to cope with French at uni without culture, you will be at a disadvantage among educated Frenchmen. Besides, books are fun.

marialuisa Wed 23-Sep-09 08:18:36

This was the format for all my languages A-levels which I took around 12 years ago. I had to do 3 pieces extended writing (a sort of project)for each and chose to make one of those literature related.

I was accepted to do MFL at Oxford from these A-levels but the course bored me rigid and I dropped out and started a degree in a subject I hadn't studied at A-level a year later (also at a decent Uni).

Bucharest Wed 23-Sep-09 08:25:13

I did languages A levels back in the dark ages, and we did literature. (4 books in depth for both languages IIRC)
I then went to a university to do languages where after the first year of obligatory literature, lit became an optional. I took all the lit options because I liked it.
I'm usually very bah humbug about standards dropping and so on, but here I don't see there is a problem tbh..and as a languages teacher myself now, I always advise students to opt for the kind of course they are most interested in at uni- if you like literature, do a traditional languages course, if you prefer to use your languages in a more <ahem> useful setting, ie in business, then choose a modern non lit based course.

Here in Italy, the most prestigious high schools follow a lit based English course. They come out of it having downloaded all the essays on Shakespeare you could shake a stick at, but they couldn't buy a bottle of water in Covent Garden without resorting to mime....grin

Depends what you want to do with your languages...looking back now, I would probably have been happier doing a more literature based degree, but books are something you can always read in your free time.

GrendelsMum Wed 23-Sep-09 09:49:43

If I remember correctly, there are two different versions of the A-level, aren't there - one which focuses on lit, and one which focuses on contemporary society and culture more. I can't really see you'd be disadvantaged by studying the contemporary society of the country you're learning about rather than the literature - and I'm a very, very heavy literature freak.

From my personal view, too, the problem is finding good literature which is at the comprehension level of the students - because if not, the risk is just that you put them off for ever. Moliere and Racine are brilliant and inspirational, but in the original are just too hard for the vast majority of A-level students. I avoided reading Gogol for years because I thought that he was hard and boring, and then discovered that was just my dodgy command of Russian grammar.

If the lad wants to do modern languages at Univesity, he could always read some books / watch some plays / watch some films himself in his own time, and that would be more impressive.

Milliways Thu 01-Oct-09 22:02:37

DD sat French & German A level this Summer. They read some lit, but I know she had to get some "extra" to read herself so she could talk about what she had read at her Uni interviews!

TheHeathenOfSuburbia Thu 01-Oct-09 22:36:13

On the bright side, he might get through life without ever having to read Maupassant. That's got to be a bonus, right?!

Quattrocento Thu 01-Oct-09 22:42:27

"Moliere and Racine are brilliant and inspirational, but in the original are just too hard for the vast majority of A-level students."

If Moliere and Racine are too hard for A-level students then surely standards are much lower than they used to be?

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