By Loh Zhao Hong (23S03A)
If you are reading this article, you are probably looking for a compelling reason why you should take French at the H2 level, or more likely, you have exhausted the other subjects and needed to pass time. In any case, bienvenue!
While there are no prerequisites on paper, all prospective students are required to sit for a diagnostic test at the beginning of J1. The format is closer to that of H2 French assessments and it helps you gauge your proficiency to decide accordingly which level to continue at or even at all.
Passing the test is, unfortunately, only the first step. As the briefing by the H2 French tutors as well as the opportunity to sit in sample classes might have revealed, there are stark differences between H2 French and its O-Level counterpart.
Firstly, the class size is much smaller. That is to be expected, since these are (supposed to be) the most passionate and determined French students across the country. Spending two years together, labouring under confounding sentence structures and diving into thorny politics is more than enough to knit a class together.
Secondly, often coined ‘GP in French’, the breadth and depth of the syllabus are vast. There is contact with authentic sources (literary, audio, and more) in every lesson, alongside excursions to explore the richness of French culture. Discussions are freer and livelier, with questions that probe beyond the surface and presentations to fulfil your artistic urges.
Exams also take place on a different schedule from other subjects. This year, J1s had two CTs which consisted of listening comprehension, written comprehension and essay, with the addition of oral examination for EOY exams. Each component has changed drastically from the O-Level format, becoming more challenging and nerve-wracking. That said, it is natural for one to do downright terribly for your first CTs, or even your second.
To give you a clearer idea of what H2 French entails, here are some recent essay questions:
- La famille est le noyau de la civilisation. Êtes-vous d’accord ?
(The family is the core of civilisation. Do you agree?)
- Le voyage doit être un droit fondamental. Qu’en pensez-vous ?
(Travel should be a fundamental right. What do you think of this claim?)
Coursework is one of the more exciting parts of H2 French to look forward to. Akin to a mini dissertation, each student embarks on an independent study on a chosen aspect of French culture. Months-long research culminates in two 1000-word long papers which will be very much your pride and joy.
Saving the best for last for the globetrotters, there is even the chance to fly overseas. MOE Language Elective Scholarship (French) scholars can hope to go on a two-week Overseas Study cum Immersion Programme to France (it’s to Toulouse this year!) at the end of J1.
For those who were simply looking for the more practical details, voilà: Lessons take place twice a week, 1730-1930 on Mondays and Fridays at MOELC (Bishan) but the days might differ for each batch. The timing is something to take into consideration when choosing your CCA or taking up electives later in the year. Of course, feel free to talk to your French tutor to sort out any conflicting schedules.
At this juncture, if you still have lingering doubts about taking French with all that has been said, here are some final words. Learning (and mastering) a language requires more than just passion; it necessitates a wholehearted devotion to improving and strengthening foundations. As we venture into unfamiliar waters, what else to trust except for the sturdiness of the boat beneath our feet? Learning French is a fresh kind of torture but it certainly also opens doors to places unknown.
“Make sure you are willing to spend time on it: the more time you spend on French outside of lesson time, the better you will be.”Song Yiyang (23S02A)
Ultimately, there are no cheat codes, and no mugging an hour before an exam if you hope to do well. That said, whether you choose to take French because of the sunk-cost fallacy, because you want to pursue further studies in France, or simply because Econs doesn’t sound enticing, there is a place for you. French is, after all, the language of love, and there is plenty to go around here.
For a taste of what H2 French lessons are like, view this vlog.
For more information about the 2023 H2 French syllabus, visit the SEAB website.
For more information about the Language Elective Scholarship (French), visit the MOE website.