Skip to main content

The accredited AQA GCSE specification (2)

Here is the link to all the AQA specimen materials:

http://www.aqa.org.uk/subjects/languages/gcse/french-8658/assessment-resources

Yesterday I looked at the Speaking assessment specimens, with a focus on the Foundation Tier questions. In this blog I'll take a look at the Foundation Writing questions, which will inevitably be of interest since this testing format differs so greatly from the current one of controlled assessments and may (no, will!) prove a difficult challenge for many students. For old hands, it's a case, to some extent at least, of déjà vu!

Foundation Tier example

Question 1 Stimulus photo (8 marks)

Candidates see a picture of some people eating in a school canteen. the rubric reads:

Qu’est-ce qu’il y a sur la photo ? Ecrivez quatre phrases en français.

Question 2 Writing a short message  (16 marks)

Vous êtes en vacances et vous écrivez à votre ami(e) français(e). Mentionnez : 
• où vous êtes 
• la météo 
• l’hôtel 
• vos activités de vacances. 

Ecrivez environ 40 mots en français.

Question 3 Translation into French (10 marks)

Translate the following sentences into French.

1. My father is tall.
2. At school I like maths and science.
3. I listen to music in the evening.
4. In my town there is a cinema and a museum.
5. I played football in the park with my friends.

Question 4 Composition (90 words) Choice of two (16 marks)

EITHER
Vous décrivez là où vous habitez pour votre blog. Décrivez : 
• votre ville et ses attractions 
• les aspects positifs et négatifs de votre maison 
• une visite récente à votre ville 
• où vous voulez habiter à l’avenir. 

Ecrivez environ 90 mots en français. Répondez à chaque aspect de la question.

OR
Vous décrivez votre vie d’adolescent(e) pour votre blog. Décrivez : 
• vos passe-temps préférés 
• vos rapports avec votre famille 
• une activité récente avec un(e) ami(e) 
• vos projets pour le week-end prochain. 

Ecrivez environ 90 mots en français. Répondez à chaque aspect de la question.

Comments

Now, I have to say that AQA have done pretty well with this. The mark allocation does not place too much importance on any one exercise type (e.g. translation). The translation sentences are fair. the composition bullet points are as clear as they can be. The final question includes past and future time and, whilst weaker candidates will be confused by the TL rubrics, with training from teachers this need not be a huge obstacle. The same issue which I pointed out yesterday applies: if you have TL rubrics, then there is a risk some students will not show off the full extent of their written skill. many teachers will regard this as unfair, but it is what Ofqual insist upon.

The element of choice in Question 4 is very welcome. If a candidate is confused by the instructions they would be well advised to do the composition they clearly understand, otherwise they may drop quite a lot of marks unnecessarily.

Much depends on the mark schemes, of course, which you can find from the link above. interestingly (and somewhat surprisingly to me) the translation question is assessed using a level (overall performance) system, not an objective point by point system which is standard at A-level. This may benefit candidates who make minor mistakes. Here it is:

Translation mark scheme

Conveying key messages

5 All key messages are conveyed.
4 Nearly all key messages are conveyed.
3 Most key messages are conveyed.
2 Some key messages are conveyed.
1 Few key messages are conveyed.
0 No key messages are conveyed.

Application of grammatical knowledge of language and structures

5 Very good knowledge of vocabulary and structures; highly accurate.
4 Good knowledge of vocabulary and structures; generally accurate.
3 Reasonable knowledge of vocabulary and structures; more accurate than inaccurate.
2 Limited knowledge of vocabulary and structures; generally inaccurate.
1 Very limited knowledge of vocabulary and structures; highly inaccurate.
0 The language produced does not meet the standard required for Level 1 at this tier.

The longer composition, worth 16 marks, gets 10 for Content and 6 for Quality of language (including accuracy). Younger teachers may need reminding that accuracy is not the be-all-and-end-all. The key messages to get across to students are (1) write stuff! (2) keep it clear, relevant and simple!

Overall, AQA have done well here, given the hand they were dealt by DfE/Ofqual. Many teachers will welcome the demise of CAs and need not fear this new assessment format too much. If students are given a regular diet of composition writing over a few years, plus an element of translation, at least in the last year of the course, they can do well. Clearly, students will need to have a decent knowledge of vocabulary and some ability to handle past, present and future without dictionary or verb table help. This ought to be a given in any languages classroom.

The weakest students will still struggle, perhaps a bit more than with CAs. Working to a time limit in exam conditions is a challenge for some, but, you know, in some ways, the translation element has its advantages. My experience was that, with weaker candidates, their problem was knowing what to write. At least with translation, they do not have to make up content.



Comments

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

5 great zero preparation lesson ideas

When the pressure is on and there are only so many hours on the week, you need a repertoire of zero preparation go-to activities which promote input and/or practice. Here are five you might well find useful.

1. My weekend

We know that listening is the most important yet often neglected skill for language learning. It's also something some pupils find hard to do. To develop listening skill and provide tailored comprehensible input try this:

You tell the class you are going to recount what you did last weekend and that they have to make notes in English. The amount of detail you go into and the speed you go will depend on your class. Talk for about three minutes. If you spent the whole weekend marking, you can always make stuff up!

You then make some true or false (maybe not mentioned too) statements in the target language about what you said in your account. Class gives hands up (or no hands up) answers. This can then lead into a simple pair work task where pupils make up their own tru…

New GCSE resources on frenchteacher

As well as writing resources for the new A-levels, I have in recent months been posting a good range of materials to support the new GCSEs. First exams are not until 2018, but here is what you can find on the site in addition to the many other resources (grammar exercises, texts, video listening etc).

I shall not produce vocabulary lists since the exam board specifications now offer these, with translations.

Foundation Tier 

AQA-style GCSE 2016 Role-plays
AQA-style GCSE 2016 Photo card conversations
AQA-style GCSE 2016 Photo card conversations (2)
100 translation sentences into French (with answers)
Reading exam
Reading exam (2)
How to write a good Foundation Tier essay (ppt)
How to write a good Foundation Tier essay (Word)

Higher Tier 

AQA-style GCSE 2016 Photo card conversations (Higher tier)
AQA-style GCSE 2016 Photo card conversations (Higher tier) (2)
20 translations into French (with answers)
Reading exam (Higher tier)
How to write a good Higher Tier essay (ppt)
How to write a…

What teachers are saying about The Language Teacher Toolkit

"The Language Teacher Toolkit is a really useful book for language teachers to either read all the way through or dip into. What I like about it is that the authors Steve Smith and Gianfranco Conti are totally upfront about what they believe to be good practice but back it up with research evidence." (Ernesto Macaro, Oxford University Department of Education)

"I absolutely love this book based on research and full of activities..  The best manual I've read so far. One of our PDs from the Australian Board of Studies recommended your book as an excellent resource.  I look forward to the conference here in Sydney." Michela Pezzi, Teacher, Australia, Facebook)

"Finally, a book for World Language teachers that provides practical ideas and strategies that can actually be used in the classroom, rather than dry rhetoric and theory that does little to inspire creativity in ways that are engaging for both students and teachers alike." (USA teacher, Amazon review)

Three AQA A-level courses compared

I've put together my three reviews of worthy A-level courses which you might be considering for next September. They are all very useful courses, but with significant differences. The traditional Hodder and OUP book-based courses differ in that the former comes in one chunky two year book, whilst OUP's comes in two parts, the first for AS or the first year of an A-level course. The Attitudes16 course by Steve Glover and Nathalie Kaddouri is based on an online platform from which you would download worksheets and share a logon with studenst who would do the interactive parts (Textivate and video work). The two text books are supported by interactive material (Kerboodle) or an e-text book.

Attitudes16





An excellent resource which should be competing for your attention at the moment is the Attitudes16 course which writers Steve Glover and Nathalie Kaddouri have been working on for some time. You can find it here at dolanguages.com, along with his excellent resources for film and li…

The Language Teacher Toolkit review

We were delighted to receive a review of The Language Teacher Toolkit from eminent applied linguist Ernesto Macaro from Oxford University. Macaro is a leader in the field of second language acquisition and applied linguistics. His main research interests are teacher-student interaction and language learning strategies pupils can use to improve their progress.

Here is Professor Macaro's review:
The Language Teacher Toolkit is a really useful book for language teachers to either read all the way through or dip into. What I like about it is that the authors Steve Smith and Gianfranco Conti are totally upfront about what they believe to be good practice but back it up with research evidence. So for example the ‘methodological principles’ on page 11 are supported by the research they then refer to later in the book and this approach is very similar to the one that we (Ernesto Macaro, Suzanne Graham, Robert Woore) have adopted in our ‘consortium project’(http://pdcinmfl.com). The point i…