A level Spanish
What is the A level about?
Welcome to 'interesting Spanish'. Gone are the days of talking about your pets, your family and what they like to eat! Now is the time to learn about the culture and moda de vida of Spain and the Spanish-speaking world. Pupils will be transformed from simple, functional communicators at GCSE into aficionados of Spanish culture and literature, ready for their next step in their language-learning adventure.
Here is an opportunity to discover Spain and Latin America and those who speak this beautiful language in depth. Whilst the course is demanding, studying a language in such detail is hugely rewarding, opening up many doors for the future, so the subject particularly suits those who see themselves as global citizens. Pupils will have to work hard outside lessons too: proficiency in a language does not come from just attending the lessons and completing prep. Pupils have to “live” the language, by reading and watching Spanish in their free time.
A level Spanish is rather like General Studies in another language, so pupils must think for themselves, form their own opinions and not be afraid to share them. Pupils need a keen eye for detail and to be willing to learn from their mistakes.
The examination tests the skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing in the context of four themes:
- Changes in Spanish society;
- Political and artistic culture in Spanish-speaking countries;
- Immigration and Spanish multicultural society;
- The Franco dictatorship and the transition to democracy.
The two cinematic and literary works to be studied for the examination are:
- El laberinto del fauno (2006, Guillermo del Toro);
- Como agua para chocolate, Laura Esquivel.
Whom does the subject suit?
Spanish A level is for those who have loved GCSE or IGCSE. It is an opportunity to get to know Spain and Latin America and those who speak this beautiful language in great depth. It is a challenging course, so pupils need to be sure it is for them. Obviously, studying a language in such detail will be hugely rewarding, opening up many doors for the future, so the subject particularly suits those who see themselves as global citizens. Pupils contemplating taking a language for A level must realise that they will have to work hard outside lessons too. Proficiency in a language will not come just from attending the lessons and completing prep: pupils will have to 'live' the language, by reading and watching Spanish in their free time.
What skills should I have?
Pupils will need to be good communicators already. There is a high degree of having to “think on your feet”, so quick thinkers should definitely consider taking the subject. It has been said that A level Spanish is rather like General Studies in another language, so pupils must think for themselves, form their own opinions and not be afraid to share them. Pupils will also have to have a keen eye for detail and be willing to learn from their mistakes.
What might the subject lead to?
Studying Spanish can lead you anywhere. For pupils who already have an idea of their future career, a language can only help them secure their dream job and allow them to do it in a wider range of places across the world. It is obvious that careers in translating and travel are clear destinations for linguists, but some of the most impressive linguists go on to hugely stimulating jobs in the intelligence and secret services. Universities always look kindly on applicants who have studied a modern language: they consider it a distinct advantage over other candidates in the application process.
What trips are involved?
There are regular cultural trips to watch Spanish films or plays in London or Oxford as the opportunities present themselves. We have good contacts when it comes to work experience placements during the summer holidays: a month spent working in a seasonal post in a Spanish-speaking country can do wonders for practising the language and will always be an advantage for any pupil getting involved.
What else should I consider before choosing?
Consider whether you want to change your life: having another language under your belt will transform your outlook on life for the better.
What books should I read?
Pupils will benefit from reading anything they like in Spanish. It should be borne in mind, however, that reading for pleasure in Spanish can be challenging to start with. Short story dual readers (where the facing pages tell the same story, but one side is in English, the other in Spanish) are generally a good place to start. In addition, reading Spanish literature in translation will broaden pupils’ horizons and help them to understand a different culture and point of view. Here are some suggestions:
- Don Quijote de la Mancha, Miguel de Cervantes
- Eva Luna, Isabel Allende
- La casa de Bernada Alba, Federico Garcia Lorca
- Ficciones, Jorge Luis Borges
In order to access this demanding course, pupils must have achieved at least a grade 7 in GCSE or IGCSE Spanish.
Besides the obvious careers of translator, interpreter or teacher, A level Spanish can lead to any career, with the added bonus that your second language will make you more attractive to employers and you may well be able to work abroad.