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A-Level Spanish

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Why study Spanish?

Exam board and specification codes: Edexcel 9SP0 (2016)

Spanish is the world's third most spoken language, after Mandarin Chinese and English, and ranks second in terms of native speakers. It is one of the official languages of the United Nations and is the second most used language in international communications.

With the competition for university places growing, it is a great advantage to have a foreign language qualification like Spanish, even if you are not applying for a language course. A foreign language is favoured by higher education institutions for the communication skills that it helps students to develop. Additionally, having language skills means that you will gain so much more from travel experiences and is always an advantage for future employment.

What is covered by the course?

The course will introduce students to the rich variety and diversity of cultures of Spain and Latin-America. The first year is designed to bridge the gap between the GCSE and A-Level and, at the same time, to introduce students to the demands of the course, consolidating and extending their knowledge of grammar as well as concentrating on a new series of topics. Lessons are in Spanish and students are encouraged to participate actively in class, this being the main way of gaining fluency and confidence in the language.

The themes covered during the A-Level address a range of social issues and trends, as well as aspects of the political, historical and artistic culture of Spain and Spanish-speaking countries. They are the following:

Theme 1: Evolving Spanish Society

  • The changing family structure
  • World of work
  • Impact of tourism in Spain

Theme 2: Political and artistic culture in Spanish-speaking countries

  • Music
  • Media
  • Festivals and traditions

Theme 3: Immigration and multicultural society in Spain

  • The positive effect of immigration
  • The challenges of immigration and integration
  • The state and social reaction to immigration

Theme 4: The Franco dictatorship and the transition to democracy

  • The civil war and the rise of Franco
  • The Franco dictatorship
  • The transition from dictatorship to democracy

How is it examined?

The A-Level course will be assessed by examination only and will test you in the four skills of listening, reading, writing and speaking.

Paper 1: Listening, reading and translation (2h) Students will be assessed on their understanding of spoken and written Spanish from a variety of types of authentic texts and listening material, as well as their ability to translate accurately from Spanish into English.

Paper 2: Written response to works and translation (2h 40 m) Students must write two essays based on the study of a literary text and a film. There will be a choice of two questions for each literary text and film and it is recommended that, in order to give a detailed analysis of the work, students write between 300-350 words for each essay, giving justified points of view, arguments and conclusions with evidence from the work. In addition, students translate an unseen passage from English to Spanish.

Paper 3: Speaking (21 – 23m) There are two parts in the speaking exam. During the first one, students discuss one theme from the specification based on a stimulus containing two different statements and during the second part, the student will present a summary of at least two of the written sources they have used for their research and give a personal response to what they have read as well as answer questions.

Related university courses and careers?

Any university course is well-suited to A-Level Spanish.

People with language skills are highly thought by employers. Taking A-Level Spanish means that you could add an extra dimension to your personal skills profile, even if you do not continue studying it at university. This will impress anyone who reads your CV and you will be in a stronger position to get a job in companies with international links and improve employment opportunities if you would like to work abroad.

Suggested reading:

Spanish Edexcel A Level, Hodder Education 2016

“Palabra por palabra” by Phil Turk

La casa de Bernarda Alba, by Federico Garcia Lorca

You can also read any Spanish book, newspaper, magazine, blog… you are interested in!