GCSE French


At Ashbourne we favour a communicative approach in the learning of modern foreign languages. The focus is to speak the language. Lessons are typically composed of small groups, which give each student ample opportunities to express themselves in a friendly atmosphere. Using a considerable amount of authentic materials, which have been personally collected from a range of different sources, our teacher encourages her students to speak French as much as possible. The use of role-plays and other interactive games, together with the study and practice of the main grammatical structures, ensures that lessons are both fun and challenging.

Why study French at GCSE?

French is one of the very few languages spoken all over the world. It is Europe’s second most widely spoken mother tongue after German but ahead of English. It shares, with English, the distinction of being taught as a foreign language in the education systems of most countries around the world. French is thus the second most widely learned foreign language in the world. It is one of the five working languages of the United Nations, one of the three procedural languages of the European Union and the sole language used for the deliberations of the Court of Justice of the European Union. It is also the sole official language of the Universal Postal Union. Besides, it is one of the main working languages of many other international institutions.

Which syllabus do we follow?

We follow the EDEXCEL specification for GCSE French.

How many topics are there?

There are five topics in total for French GCSE.

Topic 1Topic 2Topic 3Topic 4Topic 5

dentity and culture

  • Who am I? : interests, friends and family
  • Daily Life : food and drink, shopping, technology
  • Cultural life : celebrations, sport, music, reading, and films

Local area, holiday and travel

  • Holidays: destinations and experiences
  • Travel and tourist transactions: travel and accommodation, asking for help and directions, activities and attractions
  • Town, region and country: weather, places to see and things to do



  • What school is like: types of schools, a typical school day, subjects and rules
  • School activities: school trips and events

Future aspirations, study and work

  • Using languages beyond the classroom: forming relationships, travel and employment
  • Ambitions: further study, volunteering and training
  • Work: jobs, professions and careers

How is each unit examined?

Each examination draws on vocabulary across all topics.

Unit 1Unit 2Unit 3Unit 4

Listening and understanding in French

It is externally assessed and takes place in May.

Students will respond to multiple-response and short-answer open response questions based on a recording of standard spoken French, featuring a range of public and social settings.

45 minutes for higher tier

50 marks, 25% of GCSE

Speaking in French

It is internally assessed under controlled conditions and it takes place at the beginning of May.

It is marked by the school and moderated by Edexcel.

Students must speak French to communicate effectively for different purposes and in different settings.

There are three tasks:

Task 1 – a role play

Task 2 – questions based on a picture stimulus

Task 3 – conversation based on two themes

10-12 minutes, 12 minutes preparation time.

70 Marks, 25% of GCSE

Reading and understanding in French

It is externally assessed and takes place on the same day as the listening and understanding. Students answer multiple-response and short-answer questions based on a range of texts, including advertisements, emails, letters, articles and literary texts.

1 hour for higher tier

50 marks, 25% of GCSE

Writing in French

It is externally assessed and takes place at the beginning of May under controlled conditions.

Students must produce responses of varying lengths, expressing ideas and opinions for different purposes and audiences.

1 hour 20 minutes

60 marks, 25% of GCSE

When do the exams take place?

GCSE French exams usually take place in May

Which Ashbourne teachers teach this course?

Benvida Alves

BA English (University of Nanterres, France), MA English (University of Nanterres, France)