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What DOES it take to get an A* at A level in MFL?

Discussion in 'Modern foreign languages' started by corinnehendry, Sep 3, 2011.

  1. Hello
    Can anyone tell me if any of their candiates managed an A* in the German A level (or any language for that matter) with Edexcel this year? If so, what does it take exactly? Would people agree that it is harder to achieve this top grade in a language than in many other subjects?
  2. Hello
    Can anyone tell me if any of their candiates managed an A* in the German A level (or any language for that matter) with Edexcel this year? If so, what does it take exactly? Would people agree that it is harder to achieve this top grade in a language than in many other subjects?
  3. I wish i knew. We do AQA for 3 languages in a selective school with some hugely gifted kids and we have yet to have one. One of my students this year made pretty much no mistakes in her Speaking, used incredible structures, original vocab and sound, well informed arguments and only got a B for Speaking thus bringing her down to an A overall. She got 3 A* in other A-Levels. I am absolutely convinced that this is because she is shy and quiet and perhaps lacks that lively quality that they seem to like. I really don't believe that confidence (or lack of) should be penalised-are we marking them on their personality now too? Judging by the GCSE marking this year i do believe it is time a lot of us started to ask some very tough questions of the Exam Boards. It really does feel like a conspiracy sometimes.
  4. spsmith45

    spsmith45 New commenter

    It is hard to get an A* - too hard, especially when you include the native speaker factor. French is the toughest apart from drama amd media.
  5. westnab

    westnab New commenter

    You need to be a native speaker. I am convinced of it. We have only had one, last year, and the girl grew up in a French speaking country.
    Has anyone managed to get a 'normal' student to the A*? That is, someone who has absolutely no influences at home? What's more, anyone from a non-selective school? I'd love to know there's hope!
  6. lifereallyistooshort

    lifereallyistooshort New commenter

    We did have 2 A* (AQA) in French this year. Non-selective comp. It is possible, but tough.
  7. spsmith45

    spsmith45 New commenter

    We have had one A* achieved by a non-native speaker. At least two other candidates have, in my view, merited them.
  8. noemie

    noemie Occasional commenter

    I had three A* last year (all of them went on to do languages at uni) who weren't native speakers. At the time I thought it was perfectly normal. Now I understand that I struck gold and will never again have circumstances where talented linguists are rewarded with a fair grade in both their essay and their speaking exam in the same exam session (not to mention gaining fair grades the year before in their AS).
  9. We only have a small A level cohort. Last year out of 4 French candidates there was one A* (she also achieved A* in German). This year out of 2 candidates we got an A* in French. We are an independent school and selective up to a point. Neither of these candidates were native speakers: they were however driven to do well and took their learning seriously. HAving taught beforehand in state schools, I can think of candidates who would have had the ability to gain A* and can't see why similar candidates should not now. I know that anyone who SOUNDS unsure of themselves, speaks quietly or does not SOUND feisty seems to be put down in the oral.
    Two years agao, three Oxbridge destined candidates (one of whom had a breathtaking report from her French Interview with a Senior fellow at Cambridge) failed to score an A in the oral. They got A grades overall but the grading was very severe for speaking.

    My concern is that the Boards are shooting themselves in the foot. As it is they must be losing revenue witht the fall in numbers.

    Go to the following link:

    The native-speaker factor is a very valid one I am sure.

    Julia Whyte
  10. chriszwinter1

    chriszwinter1 New commenter

    Native speakers should not assume that their fluency is enough. I found this little gem on page 3 of the examiner's report for AQA's Germ4:
    "Regrettably, some native speakers failed to access a considerable number of marks as a result of bad conduct."
    Like everyone else, they have to be aware that the marks for content limit the marks in other bands. A native speaker who does not know develop the point is going to be marked down on those other aspects. I once - as the teacher-examiner - examined a 14 year old German student for A2 as a favour to a colleague in another school . The candidate had not prepared the topics for the conversation, with the result that I gave up after 12 of the 15 minutes, as my patience and my ability to think of new questions in response to very short answers were soon exhausted. "Na ja, deutsche Züge sind halt besser als englische, weil sie schneller sind." was a typical response.
    Those who choose to ignore both the letter and spirit of the assessment criteria do not deserve to do any better.
  11. Crowbob

    Crowbob Senior commenter

    No, it is not harder. According to the stats on Edexcel, Business Studies, Drama, English Lang, Music Tech, Music, Religious Ed, Biology, Geography, History and Physic all have fewer students achieving the grade.
    German has 10% of students, more than twice the number of Music (for example). I doubt very much that those 10% are all native speakers.
  12. It depends on the cohort.
    If only the top 10% are doing German, and to get an A* you have to be in the top 5% of that 10%, then you have to be pretty clever!

    As the cohort shrinks and becomes more elite, poor old fairly avearge comp kid finds it harder to compete.


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