What will I study?
AS and A2 German aim to develop your GCSE skills to a much higher level of competence. You will be encouraged to speak and write German more fluently and more accurately than before and to listen to and read quite complex text with ease and, dare we say, enjoyment. Obviously the internet plays a big part in all this, but you will be invited to go on the Bonn Exchange (again), to join the Rheinland Trip as a Senior Boy and to use every opportunity to speak German in real life contexts. To this end, in addition to the eleven timetabled lessons throughout years 12 and 13, you attend a weekly conversation class with the German Assistant usually in a group of no more than three or four students.
Your study includes grammar taught very clearly in English. However the majority of the lessons are in German and range over the topics below:
Media - Television
- Communication technology
Popular Culture - Cinema
- Fashion / trends
Healthy Lifestyle - Sport / exercise
- Health and well-being
Relationships - Relationships within the family
- Marriage / partnerships
Environment - Pollution
- Protecting the planet
Multicultural Society - Immigration
Contemporary Social Issues - Wealth and poverty
- Law and order
- Impact of scientific progress
Cultural topic - the work of German director, Werner Herzog
- the post-war history of Berlin
All of these, not just the last of them, are studied from the perspective of German-speaking countries. The cultural topic sounds rather daunting, but so much source material is now readily available on the internet; there is no reason to regard it as anything other than a great opportunity to broaden your horizons.
The teaching itself takes a variety of forms. There is a text book with a clear course content, but we do not follow it slavishly and take every opportunity for student contribution, especially if it is supported by ICT.
In some ways the transition to AS is not that intimidating. Many of the topics have recognisable roots in your present GSCE course. The emphasis lies now not so much on learning endless lists of new vocabulary, but on becoming confident and fluent in conversation, organised and accurate on paper and in the passive skills able to cope with real German.
How will I be assessed?
The Assessment and Qualifications Alliance (AQA) divides assessment into four units:
AS Unit 1 Listening, reading and writing 35% (2 hours and 30 minutes)
AS Unit 2 Speaking 15% (15 minutes)
A2 Unit 3 Listening, reading and writing 35% (2 hours and 30 minutes)
A2 Unit 4 Speaking 15% (15 minutes)
Units 1 and 3 allow students to work at their own rate with individual listening play-back facilities; the Speaking examinations are conducted at both levels by our resident specialist, Mr Hiepko, and not by an external examiner.
Less than 240 UMS at GSCE, i.e. anything below an A, would be a discouraging starting point for you. If you need and are aiming for a top grade at A Level, you really need one at GSCE before you start.
That said you are welcome, whatever your GCSE status, as long as you are prepared to work hard at it and can learn from, and not be discouraged by, the brilliance of others.
Where will it lead?
The conventional wisdom is that A Level languages are for professional linguists and, if you are not going to do both German and French, then there is not much point in doing either. In practice, combining a language with a wide variety of semi-vocational courses at university, e.g. business management, law, banking, accountancy, architecture, even engineering, can often secure you employment because all the other applicants for the job you are after are qualified in the vocational subject alone. With such vast areas of British commerce, industry and even the professions, owned or controlled by German parent organisations, or at the very least allied to powerful German concerns, it makes good sense to study some German beyond GCSE, if you can. Even without German at a university, a decent AS or A2 grade is often decisive in later life. Germans are flattered by our learning of their difficult language and there are benefits to be had from even trying - remember, thanks to the changes in National Curriculum requirements, the number of German A Level linguists qualifying annually in the UK has almost halved over the fifteen years of your life-time and the vast majority of those left are young women. On rarity value alone, German A Level, if you can make a go of it, is a sound investment proposition for a young male.