Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment

Frequently Asked Questions

Is there any prior attainment required to be able to do this course?

No, students don’t need any prior attainment in French to be able to take this course. However, the specification is designed to promote continuity, coherence and progression within the study of the language. The specification builds on the knowledge, understanding and skills developed within the Key Stage 3 curriculum.

Are there any prohibited combinations for this award?

No, there are no prohibited combinations for this specification.

Can you tell me what the Entry codes are for GCSE Languages?

Entry codes can be found here.

What grades can students achieve through studying this specification?

We award GCSE qualifications on an eight-grade scale from A*–G, with A* being the highest. For further information on grading , please see the GCSE Languages UMS document.

How can I get a Grade A in GCSE languages?

There are now 400 UMS available for GCSE languages.

The maximum UMS for both the speaking and writing units is 120.

The maximum UMS for higher reading and listening is 80.

The maximum UMS for foundation reading and listening is 55.

To get an A, candidates need to get 320 UMS.

Theoretically, you could get an A if you did foundation reading and foundation listening, as there are 350 UMS available for this combination, but you would obviously need to be doing extremely well in all units.

How can I get a Grade A* in GCSE languages?

The maximum UMS for both the speaking and writing units is 120.

The maximum UMS for higher reading and listening is 80.

The maximum UMS for foundation reading and listening is 55.

To get an A*, candidates need to get 360 UMS.

Theoretically, you could get an A* if you did one foundation and one higher paper, as there are 375 UMS available for this combination, but you would obviously need to be doing extremely well in all units.

How can this specification help students gain Key Skills?

This specification provides opportunities for students to develop the following nationally recognised Key Skills:

  • Improving Own Learning and Performance;
  • Information and Communications Technology;
  • Problem-Solving; and
  • Working with Others.

Do centres have to use all the preparation time as listed in the specification?

These times are guidelines. Centres should not exceed these times, but some centres may find they can adequately prepare their candidates in less time.

Can candidates bring their work home?

Yes. Teachers must be able to authenticate that the work is the candidate's own.

What is meant by good idiomatic language?

Examples of what is meant by this will be provided in the “Guide to the speaking tasks” that will be available online.

How many times can a candidate do a task before it is submitted?

Centres can allow candidates to take as many controlled assessment tasks as is practical for the centre. Candidates may not do the same controlled assessment task more than once.

How many words are allowed on the pro-forma?

40

Are they allowed a pro-forma for each task?

Yes candidates should complete a pro-forma for each controlled assessment task.

How will the controlled assessment speaking tasks be recorded and submitted?

Tasks must be recorded in MP3 format and only one task per candidate need be recorded.

CCEA will also provide guidance on the recording of speaking tasks for candidates who are to be assessed in pairs or small groups.

Can CCEA provide more guidance on the mark grids for the speaking controlled assessment tasks?

CCEA will continue to provide support and resources throughout the lifetime of this specification. Schemes of Work are available online for all the GCSEs, to support teaching and learning

Will the rubric always be in the target language on the reading papers?

Not necessarily, it will depend on the questions type; sometimes it may be more appropriate to use English rubrics.

When will the controlled assessment tasks be collected?

CCEA will inform centres of this date.

When can the controlled assessment tasks be done?

Tasks must be ready for collection (marked and internally standardised where appropriate) on the submission date communicated by CCEA.

Will there be banks of questions for teachers for the speaking tasks?

Yes, these will be provided in the “Guide to the speaking tasks”.

How often will tasks be replaced?

Every 2 years. If centres design their own tasks, these must also be replaced every two years.

What speaking tasks can candidates do?

One of their tasks must be a conversation. The other task is up to the centre to set. They can use one of our exemplar tasks / adapt one of these tasks / create one of their own. The two tasks must be drawn from different contexts.

Can the second task also be a conversation?

Yes, as long as it is taken from a different context than the first.

In Speaking preparation time, can candidates listen to a recording of their presentation if they have it recorded onto ipod?

There is no problem with candidates using audio resources during the preparation time. They obviously wouldn't be able to make the recording before the preparation time started as they wouldn't know the details of the task. Once they do know the details of the task, they could of course make a recording if they wished but the teacher would not be able to correct it, only give feedback as outlined in the specification.

Will CCEA provide more examples of controlled assessment tasks?

CCEA will continue to provide support and resources throughout the lifetime of this specification. Schemes of Work are available online for all the GCSEs, to support teaching and learning.

Will writing be submitted on line?

Not initially, if this changes, CCEA will communicate this to centres.

How will we standardise controlled assessment tasks?

The setting of tasks is the responsibility of centres. They can use our exemplar tasks, adapt these, or create their own. When adapting or creating tasks, centres should follow the guidance provided in the specification closely.

Will centres have to submit tasks that they have adapted / created to CCEA for approval?

No.

Can centres submit controlled assessment tasks to CCEA for approval if they are adapting the exemplar tasks / setting their own?

Yes, CCEA will have a facility whereby centres can submit tasks to CCEA for guidance on whether the tasks set fit within the parameters and allow candidates to access the highest mark bands. Details of this facility will be communicated to centres.

Will CCEA specify which dictionaries can be used in the controlled assessment tasks?

No.

Will there be resources for the teaching of the media and communications topic?

CCEA will continue to provide support and resources throughout the lifetime of this specification. Schemes of Work are available online for all the GCSEs, to support teaching and learning.

Will CCEA provide more guidance as to what is allowed / not allowed in terms of feedback / correcting work during the preparation stage for the controlled assessment tasks?

CCEA will provide an example of a task from the pre-preparation stage right through to the final production of the task, explaining what guidance and feedback is permitted at each stage and giving examples of appropriate classroom activities. This guidance will be included in the Schemes of Work.

Will teachers still need to teach transactional language?

This sort of language won’t be assessed explicitly in the speaking tasks, as there are no role plays set by CCEA. However, teachers may find it useful to use this sort of language to practice speaking tasks. The transactional language may still occur in other assessments – for example the listening papers.

Will CCEA provide more guidance on what is meant by social issues and the level of detail that candidates need to study it?

CCEA will continue to provide support and resources throughout the lifetime of this specification. Schemes of Work are available online for all the GCSEs, to support teaching and learning.

Why were the Assessment Objectives weighted at 30% for speaking and writing and 20% for listening and reading?

The regulators set a 60% controlled assessment rule for languages, so to avoid testing of more than one skill in one assessment (for example speaking and listening together), we changed the weightings to allow us to test the four skills separately.

Will candidates / centres have to pay to re-sit units?

Yes – details will be in the CCEA fees booklet.

How many times can candidates repeat a unit?

Once and the highest mark is then counted towards the qualification.

Will CCEA provide more guidance on setting writing tasks with different purposes?

CCEA will continue to provide support and resources throughout the lifetime of this specification. Schemes of Work are available online for all the GCSEs, to support teaching and learning.

Who will invigilate controlled assessment writing tasks – teachers or invigilators?

The final production of the writing controlled assessment tasks must be invigilated. Details of who should undertake this invigilation will be in the CCEA Invigilator’s Diary.

What feedback will be sent out to schools after the speaking tasks have been moderated?

Each centre will receive feedback from the moderator on the application of the mark scheme in the centre. Centres will be notified on this form (TAC 6) if marks have been adjusted.

Are the word limits maximum limits?

No, these are guidelines only, though we do tend to find that if candidates go excessively over the word limit, they self-penalise.

Must the pro-forma for each task be submitted?

Yes CCEA will provide details on the submission of all tasks and the related paperwork prior to the first submission date in 2010.

Note: Due to the change in control, candidates can complete some or all of the preparation work for the writing task at home. Teachers must not teach this topic in class time during this period.

CCEA Curriculum Monitoring Programme 2018-19