The Sixth Form at Radley
French, German and Spanish are offered at AS and A levels.
AS and A level
A modern language at AS level is within the scope of most Radley boys who have gained at least an A grade at GCSE. The course builds on the basic skills acquired in preparation for that exam, extending their application into more realistic situations using authentic up-to-date materials (e.g. newspaper/magazine articles, radio/TV extracts, literary extracts, internet material, film). Topics covered include social affairs (e.g. the world of work, education, violence, transport), and leisure issues (e.g. sport, entertainment, lifestyle): that is, the range of subjects dealt with in the responsible media of the country concerned. Particular stress is placed on oral fluency - each boy researches and prepares a topic of his choice for presentation and discussion in the oral exam. Reading and listening skills are continually reinforced, and accurate written use of the language is also trained and tested. A sound grasp of grammar and syntax well beyond that acquired at GCSE is therefore needed.
Lessons are varied in content and presentation using the full resources of the recently re-fitted department building. The foreign language is used at almost all times in the classroom. Students will need an individual MP3 player/ iPod for listening-based activities, and should ensure they have one at the start of the course. Two AS modules, testing a mix of the skills mentioned and forming an AS qualification, will be taken at the end of the VI.1 year by those not continuing to A2.
A modern language at A2 develops these skills further, with emphasis on extended writing in the language and a more detailed knowledge of the civilisation and culture of the country concerned.
Two literary texts (mainly 20th century) or two cultural topics (e.g. from cinema, history or fine arts), or one of each, may be studied. Coursework may be an option in this part of the syllabus for some sets. The two AS and the two A2 modules are taken at the end of the VI.2 year. The A level qualification is achieved by combining grades awarded for AS and A2 modules.
Boys who gained a grade lower than A at GCSE are likely to find this level of study extremely difficult.
For very able boys, the French department offers an accelerated set which takes the A2 exam at the end of the first year of the sixth form at the discretion of their teaching dons.
It should be realised that languages at AS and A levels are demanding subjects and that high grades will be achieved only by those with some inherent talent, a good GCSE grade, an appetite for independent study, and a serious and scholarly attitude to their work. Any boy aiming to take a language at A level is strongly advised to spend an extended period of several weeks in the relevant country at least once during the two years of the course; otherwise he will find himself at a disadvantage.
Boys opting for two modern languages should ensure by consultation with the Head of Department that they have the ability to cope with the academic demands. If they have, they will find that two languages will combine successfully with most other A/AS subjects.
A modern language at AS or A level will prove a valuable complement to both science and humanities combinations. It should be borne in mind that proficiency in one or preferably more modern languages is increasingly seen as an essential ancillary skill in most areas of higher study.
After A level
A good performance - normally at least a B grade - at a modern language A level is obviously a necessary entrance qualification for those intending to study languages at university, and those aiming at entry to another faculty where a language A level is acceptable as an entrance qualification (e.g. Law, PPE, Philosophy, Psychology). The range of Single, Joint and Combined Honours courses involving a language component at British universities is now enormous, and caters for all interests, whether applied, literary, cultural or socio-political. Careful scrutiny of prospectuses is essential for those intending to apply for a language-based course. The study of a fresh language ab initio is a further option for the proven linguist.
Each year a number of boys are prepared for entrance to Oxford and Cambridge universities, which offer language degree courses with a strong literary bias. Two languages must be offered on application, normally those studied at A level, although a proven linguist may apply to begin a new language, for example, Italian, Russian, Portuguese, alongside one in which he has an A Level (that is, French, Spanish, German).
These Oxbridge courses are not necessarily the most suitable even for the most able boys, and careful consideration should be taken, and consultation made with the Head of Department, before applying. A rigorous interview (with additional written tests set by individual colleges) remains mandatory. Viable candidates are set a course of extra reading and language work during the summer vacation at the end of the VI.1 year, and additional teaching is provided during the Summer and Michaelmas terms.