Subject content

The A-level specification builds on the knowledge, understanding and skills gained at GCSE. It constitutes an integrated study with a focus on language, culture and society. It fosters a range of transferable skills including communication, critical thinking, research skills and creativity, which are valuable to the individual and society. The content is suitable for students who wish to progress to employment or to further study, including a modern languages degree.

The specification has been designed to be studied over two years. The suggestions below relating to content for year one and content for year two are based on the knowledge that the course will generally be taken over two years. Schools and colleges are free to choose how and when to cover the content.

The approach is a focus on how Spanish-speaking society has been shaped socially and culturally and how it continues to change. In the first year, aspects of the social context are studied, together with aspects of the artistic life of Spanish-speaking countries. In the second year further aspects of the social background are covered, this time focusing on matters associated with multiculturalism. Students also study aspects of the political landscape including the future of political life in the Hispanic world by focusing on young people and their political engagement.

Students will develop their knowledge and understanding of themes relating to the culture and society of countries where Spanish is spoken, and their language skills. They will do this by using authentic spoken and written sources in Spanish.

The choice of works (literary texts and films) offers opportunities to link with the themes so that, for example, the play La casa de Bernarda Alba could be linked to the sub-theme Modern and traditional values while the film Volver could be connected to the sub-theme Equal rights.

Students following this specification will develop their language knowledge, understanding and skills through:
  • using language spontaneously to initiate communication; ask and answer questions; express thoughts and feelings; present viewpoints; develop arguments; persuade; and analyse and evaluate in speech and writing, including interaction with speakers of Spanish
  • applying knowledge of pronunciation, morphology and syntax, vocabulary and idiom to communicate accurately and coherently, using a range of expression – including the list of grammar in this specification
  • using language-learning skills and strategies, including communication strategies such as adjusting the message, circumlocution, self-correction and repair strategies
  • listening and responding to spoken passages including some extended passages from a range of different contexts and sources, adapted as necessary, covering different registers and types, including authentic communication involving one or more speakers
  • reading and responding to a variety of texts including some extended texts written for different purposes and audiences drawn from a range of authentic sources, including contemporary, historical and literary, fiction and non-fiction texts, adapted as necessary
  • understanding the main points, gist and detail from spoken and written material
  • inferring meaning from complex spoken and written material, including factual and abstract content
  • assimilating and using information from spoken and written sources, including material from online media
  • summarising information from spoken and written sources, reporting key points and subject matter in speech and writing
  • translating an unseen passage from Spanish into English
  • translating an unseen passage from English into Spanish.

Students must also study either one book and one film or two books from the lists in this specification. They must appreciate, analyse and be able to respond critically in writing in Spanish to the work they have studied. Their understanding of the work must include a critical appreciation of the concepts and issues covered and a critical and analytical response to features such as the form and the technique of presentation as appropriate to the work studied (eg the effect of narrative voice in a prose text or camera-work in a film).

In addition, students following this specification will:
  • develop research skills in Spanish, demonstrating the ability to initiate and conduct individual research on a subject of personal interest, relating to the country or countries where Spanish is spoken

  • identify a key question or subject of interest and select relevant information in Spanish from a range of authentic sources, including the internet

  • use information to illustrate knowledge and understanding of the research subject

  • analyse and summarise research findings, elaborating on key points of interest, as appropriate, through oral presentation and discussion.