Skip to main content

A-level French results over the years

                    A*    A    B    C    D    E    N    U   A - E    
French     
          2012      6.8 32.6 29.4 18.5  8.8  3.1       0.8  99.2   12511   
          2011      7.7 32.4 29.3 18.0  8.7  3.0       0.9  99.1   13196
          2010      7.7 31.4 28.5 18.2  9.6  3.7       0.9  99.1   13850
          2009          38.6 27.6 18.3 10.5  4.1       0.9  99.1   14333
          2008          37.3 27.7 18.9 10.6  4.3       1.2  98.8   14885
          2007          36.3 28.0 18.2 11.6  4.6       1.3  98.7   14477
          2006          34.7 27.4 19.5 11.8  5.3       1.3  98.7   14650
          2005          32.9 27.5 20.0 12.4  5.6       1.6  98.4   14484
          2004          33.4 26.8 19.8 12.6  5.8       1.6  98.4   15149
          2003          31.4 26.4 20.0 13.3  6.6       2.3  97.7   15531
          2002          29.3 25.2 20.9 13.8  7.7       3.1  96.9   15614
          2001          24.7 20.5 19.4 16.0 11.2  5.5  2.7  91.8   17939
          2000          23.5 21.5 20.1 16.3 10.5  5.6  2.5  91.9   18221
          1999          23.2 20.4 20.1 16.4 11.3  5.7  2.9  91.4   21072
          1998          21.6 20.7 19.6 17.3 11.6  6.2  3.0  90.8   23633
          1997          20.2 19.9 19.6 16.7 12.1  6.9  4.6  88.5   25916
          1996          20.9 18.0 20.3 17.3 12.5  6.9  4.1  89.0   27490
          1995          20.1 18.3 19.3 17.7 13.4  7.1  4.1  88.8   27563
          1994          19.9 17.7 19.0 17.4 13.4  7.8  4.7  87.5   28942
          1993          18.6 17.3 19.5 18.5 13.6  7.6  4.9  87.5   29886
 
That table is from Brian Stubbs's Student Performance Analysis pages.
http://www.bstubbs.co.uk/new.htm

Most language teachers are aware of how hard it is for students to achieve an A* at A-level compared to other subjects. Ofqual are aware of the issue and one wonders why it has not been dealt with already, but what the data also show is that, over the course of two decades, grade inflation has not hit French A-level nearly as much as some other subjects.

Compare, for example, results for English, a subject which attracts a wider range of abilities than French:


                    A*    A    B    C    D    E    N    U   A - E    
English  
          2012      6.8 14.4 26.9 29.9 17.2  4.2       0.6  99.4   89638
          2011      7.1 15.2 27.1 29.2 16.6  4.2       0.6  99.4   89980
          2010      7.4 15.7 26.6 27.9 17.0  4.6       0.8  99.2   89320
          2009          23.0 27.1 28.4 16.4  4.4       0.7  99.3   91815
          2008          22.8 26.7 27.7 16.8  5.1       0.9  99.1   89111
          2007          23.2 26.0 27.3 17.2  5.3       1.0  99.0   85275
          2006          21.9 25.3 27.4 18.2  6.0       1.2  98.8   86640
          2005          20.7 24.5 27.4 19.1  6.9       1.4  98.6   85858     
          2004          20.6 23.7 27.1 19.6  7.4       1.6  98.4   81649
          2003          20.0 24.5 27.3 19.5  7.1       1.6  98.4   78476
          2002          18.9 24.3 27.2 19.9  7.8       1.9  98.1   72196
          2001          16.5 19.8 24.5 20.9 12.1  4.5  1.7  93.8   76808
          2000          15.6 19.5 24.0 21.1 12.8  4.9  2.1  93.0   86428              
          1999          15.2 19.2 23.8 21.1 13.4  5.2  2.1  92.7   90340
          1998          14.9 19.1 22.9 21.3 13.7  5.6  2.5  91.9   94099
          1997          14.3 18.9 22.7 21.6 14.5  5.6  2.4  92.0   93546
          1996          14.5 19.4 21.8 21.1 14.3  6.2  2.7  91.1   86627
          1995          14.1 19.0 21.8 20.4 14.7  6.5  3.5  90.0   86467
          1994          13.5 19.0 21.6 20.8 14.6  6.8  3.6  89.5   88214
          1993          12.9 18.1 20.3 20.9 15.3  7.5  4.9  87.5   89238

In this case it is clear that, given the fact that the number of entries has remained static. The decline in the number of young people taking A-level languages is well documented, so the examination boards have had to keep a careful eye on grade allocations as the average ability level of candidates has risen. In French they have been much more successful, it would appear, in holding the standard than in English. (You would see a similar pattern in other subjects too.)

My feeling, having taught A-level French for over 30 years is that you still need to be a very good candidate to get an A grade. What may have changed a little is the ease with which you can now get grades C to E. My strong hunch is that candidates who may have scraped an E two decades ago are now more likely to achieve a D or a C.

Modern languages remain among the hardest of A-levels in terms of grading. Absolute difficulty level is harder to assess and much depends on a student's natural aptitude.



Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Delayed dictation

What is “delayed dictation”?

Instead of getting students to transcribe immediately what you say, or what a partner says, you can enforce a 10 second delay so that students have to keep running over in their heads what they have heard. Some teachers have even used the delay time to try to distract students with music.

It’s an added challenge for students but has significant value, I think. It reminds me of a phenomenon in music called audiation. I use it frequently as a singer and I bet you do too.

Audiation is thought to be the foundation of musicianship. It takes place when we hear and comprehend music for which the sound is no longer or may never have been present. You can audiate when listening to music, performing from notation, playing “by ear,” improvising, composing, or notating music. When we have a song going round in our mind we are audiating. When we are deliberately learning a song we are audiating.

In our language teaching case, though, the earworm is a word, chunk of l…

Sentence Stealers with a twist

Sentence Stealers is a reading aloud game invented by Gianfranco Conti. I'll describe the game to you, then suggest an extension of it which goes a bit further than reading aloud. By the way, I shouldn't need to justify the usefulness of reading aloud, but just in case, we are talking here about matching sounds to spellings, practising listening, pronunciation and intonation and repeating/recycling high frequency language patterns.

This is how it works:

Display around 15 sentences on the board, preferably ones which show language patterns you have been working on recently or some time ago.Hand out four cards or slips of paper to each student.On each card students must secretly write a sentence from the displayed list.Students then circulate around the class, approaching their classmates and reading a sentence from the displayed list. If the other person has that sentence on one of their cards, they must hand over the card. The other person then does the same, choosing a sentenc…

Using sentence builder frames for GCSE speaking and writing preparation

Some teachers have cottoned on to the fact that sentence builders (aka substitution tables) are a very useful tool for helping students prepare for their GCSE speaking and writing tests. My own hunch is that would help for students of all levels of proficiency, but may be particularly helpful for those likely to get lower grades, say between 3-6. Much depends, of course, on how complex you make the table.

To remind you, here is a typical sentence builder, as found on the frenchteacher site. The topic is talking about where you live. A word of warning - formatting blogs in Blogger is a nightmare when you start with Word documents, so apologies for any issues. It might have taken me another 30 minutes just to sort out the html code underlying the original document.


Setting work for home study

A major challenge for language teachers just now is selecting and sharing work with students to do at home. Here a few suggestions on the issue to add to your own. The sites I mention are the tip of the iceberg and focus mainly on French. I have stuck to free resources, not subscription sites.

By the way, I'm not getting into the use of tech here, as I have no great expertise on that. In any case, I imagine for younger learners especially it may be a question of setting other types of work.

ADVANCED

For advanced learners the job is not so tough. There is a plethora of listening, reading and grammar material they can use, whether it be from their textbooks, other resources shared electronically or online resources. You may have your favourites, but for a selection for French you can check out my links here and here. You may want to stick with topics on the syllabus, or free up students to read and listen more generally to what interests them.

One idea I used was to ask students to c…

"Ask and move" task

This is a lesson plan using an idea from our book Breaking the Sound Barrier (Conti and Smith, 2019). It's a task-based lesson adapted from an idea from Paul Nation and Jonathan Newton. It is aimed at Y10-11 pupils aiming at Higher Tier GCSE, but is easily adaptable to other levels and languages, including A-level. This has been posted as a resource on frenchteacher.net.

This type of lesson plan excites me more than many, because if it runs well, you get a classroom of busy communication when you can step back, monitor and occasionally intervene as students get on with listening, speaking and writing.