Pre-U French

The Modern Languages Department at MCS aims to provide enjoyment and intellectual stimulation as well as a rewarding and successful learning experience that will allow pupils to participate confidently and competently in communicative exchanges with native speakers.

French at Pre-U is a rich and diverse discipline. A radical departure from GCSE, it offers prospective pupils the chance to learn about French history and culture and to keep abreast of current social and cultural changes in French society through a wide range of written and spoken source material. The emphasis is on using French in authentic contexts, and on exploring France’s world-renowned literary and cinematographic tradition. Pre-U French offers a fresh and engaging syllabus which focuses on immersion in authentic language and culture – from the news media, radio, television, the internet, film, and literature.


The Cambridge Pre-U Modern Foreign Language syllabus for French aims to:

  • develop pupils’ ability to understand the target language in a variety of registers
  • enable pupils to communicate confidently and clearly in the target language
  • form a sound base of skills, language, and attitudes required for further study, work and leisure
  • develop insights into the culture and civilisation of countries where the target language is spoken
  • encourage positive attitudes to language learning and a sympathetic approach to other cultures
  • further intellectual and personal development by promoting learning and social skills


Examination arrangements and course content

The course is assessed in four exams, each equally weighted towards the final grade.

  • Speaking: Externally assessed speaking test conducted by a visiting examiner, approximately 16 minutes. Pupils are expected to understand and respond to texts written in the target language, drawn from a variety of sources such as magazines, newspapers, reports, books, and other forms of extended written and spoken material.
  • Reading and Listening: A series of reading and listening exercises, 2 hours 15 minutes. Pupils are expected to manipulate the target language accurately in spoken and written forms to demonstrate an ability to choose appropriate examples of vocabulary and structure.
  • Writing and Usage: Discursive essay in the target language and three grammar usage exercises, 2 hours 15 minutes. Topics covered in preparation for the discursive essay include: human relationships, the generation gap, the media, law and order, equality of opportunity, travel and tourism, war and peace, scientific and technological innovation, conservation. Pupils are expected to select and present information, and to organise their arguments and ideas logically.
  • Topics and Texts: Two extended answers, one in the target language based on a theme and one English commentary or essay on a variety of texts and films, 2 hours 30 minutes.

Topics in French include: friendship and brotherhood, World War II, the representation of women. Texts include Rostand’s Cyrano de Bergerac and Beaumarchais’ Le Barbier de Séville.

Pupils are expected to research and discuss aspects of the history, current affairs or cultures of countries where the target language is spoken.

The oral exam will be practised in individual weekly lessons with the dedicated French Language Assistants.

Some of the authentic texts and resources that the French Pre-U syllabus draws upon, can be found below.

Tirard Molière 2007
Kassovitz La Haine 1995
Luchini Dans la maison 2012
Audiard De rouille et d’os 2013
Eric Toledano Untouchable 2011
Louis Malle Ascenseur pour l’échafaud 2005/1958
Denis Villeneuve Incendies 2010
Theodore Zeldin The French 2012
Stephen Clarke A thousand years of annoying the French 2011
Begaudeau, François Entre les murs 2007
Begag, Azouz Le gône du chaaba 1997
Guène, Faiza KiffeKiffe DemainStephen Clarke 2005
Coward, Richard French stories parallel texts 2001
Maupassant Contes de la bécasse (short stories) 2013
MCS intranet MCS Waynflete anthology : 15th-21st century literary excerpts