Spanish is not just great for developing language skills, but also for learning about the richness of other cultures.
Bruna Castro Chitunda
There are now more native Spanish-speakers in the world than those of any other language except Mandarin Chinese (yes, more people have Spanish as their first language than English!).
However, Spanish A Level is much more than just a communication qualification. In fact, it is one of the most diverse courses imaginable, covering everything from Cuban politics to Colombian cinema, Mexican art to Spanish theatre, whilst also considering gender stereotypes, the rise of the Internet, racial discrimination, celebrity culture, immigration policy and much more!
This is a course for adventurous students who want the skills that come with learning a foreign language but who also want to discover new ideas and cultures, and look at the world we live in from a different perspective.
Achieve 5 or more standard GCSE passes or higher (grade 4 or higher).
If a student is applying for a course in a subject that they have studied at GCSE it is expected that a student would have achieved at least a standard pass (grade 4) in this subject.
Social, Political and Cultural Topics:
The following 12 topics (categorised into 4 broader areas) will be studied as we work on the development of speaking, listening, reading writing and translation skills:
Aspects of Hispanic society
- Modern and traditional values
- Equal rights (gender equality, LGBT rights)
Multiculturalism in Hispanic society:
Artistic culture in the Hispanic world:
- Modern day idols (the influence of celebrities)
- Spanish regional identity (festivals, food, regional languages)
- Cultural heritage (art/architecture, music, Aztecs/Mayans, Muslim heritage in Spain)
Aspects of political life in the Hispanic world:
- “Today’s youth, tomorrow’s citizens” (youth engagement with politics)
- Monarchies and dictatorships
- Popular political movements
Literature and Film
The main written element of the Spanish A Level is an essay paper in which students are assessed on their critical responses to a film and a play which they have studied in depth. We will be studying:
Film: María, llena eres de gracia (directed by Joshua Marston)
Maria, IIena eres de gracia is the intensely moving story of a headstrong, pregnant Colombian teenager who becomes involved in the drugs trade. Out of work and desperate for money, María takes a job smuggling drugs from Colombia to the United States, but nothing about her trip goes as planned…
Play: Fernando Fernán Gómez, Las bicicletas son para el verano
Las bicicletas son para el verano is a gripping masterpiece of modern Spanish theatre. Beginning in Madrid in the summer of 1936, the play tells the story of one family’s struggles during the Spanish civil war and the Franco dictatorship which followed. It is a play about hope, despair and the horrors of war.
Individual research project
With support and guidance from their teacher, students select and research a topic of their choice, which can be anything relating to Spain or a Spanish-speaking country. They are then assessed on their project as part of their speaking examination. This is a real opportunity for students to become experts in a topic that excites them and gets them thinking.
Paper 1 – Listening, reading and writing
Exam: 2 hours and 30 minutes
50% of A Level
Paper 2 – Writing
Written exam: 2 hours
20% of A Level
Paper 3 – Speaking
Speaking exam: 21-23 minutes in length based on
the research project + a discussion of one of the social, political and cultural topics
30% of A Level
Spanish has the advantage of being both a practical employment skill and a subject which is perceived to be highly academic, meaning that it is much sought after by both universities and employers. Former languages students choose to deploy their languages skills in a range of rewarding professional contexts, including journalism, law, business, politics and diplomacy. Meanwhile, many other careers are also available specifically for languages graduates, including language teaching (within the UK and abroad), linguistic and cultural research, and translation/interpretation.