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Frequently Asked Questions

GCE Community Languages
GCSE Community Languages General
GCSE Community Languages Listening
GCSE Community Languages Reading
GCSE Community Languages Speaking
GCSE Community Languages Writing
GCE Community Languages

Question: Are learners assessed on their knowledge of the target language country or community?
Answer: QCA states that learners are still required to study aspects of the contemporary society, cultural background and heritage of one or more of the countries or communities whose language is being studied however; this knowledge is no longer specifically tested.

Question: Do I need a Target Language speaker to supervise the examinations?
Answer: No. As there is not a speaking component, the examination just requires normal standards of invigilation.

Question: Do we need to find someone to examine the speaking tests?
Answer: No. There are no speaking tests for this specification.

Question: For the A2, is knowledge of literature from one or more Target Language-speaking countries compulsory?
Answer: No. However, learners should be encouraged to read literary works that are relevant to the topic being studied.

Question: How many times can the candidates listen to the stimulus material?
Answer: Candidates can listen to the material as many times as they like. This means that they need the facilities (personal play back equipment, PC or Language Laboratory) to enable them to control the recording them selves and should not be placed in a room with candidates taking other examinations as switching the machines on and off may distract other students.

Question: How will listening materials be made available?
Answer: Listening material will be made available on CD.

Question: What do the schemes of work and lesson plans cover?
Answer: The schemes of work contain suggestions on time allocation, teaching activities and resources. The sample lesson plans provide specific ideas on delivery of a few of the topics for some unit options. Both resources are intended to offer teachers a range of practical delivery ideas that they can mould to suit their needs, and their students needs.

Question: What support materials are being produced by OCR for the revised GCEs?
Answer: Schemes of work and lesson plans can be downloaded from the OCR website. The materials are available in fixed PDF format, for reference purposes, and also in Word format, so that teachers can adapt the materials for their own use.

Question: When is the first assessment?
Answer: The first assessment for the AS is June 2009 and the first assessment for the A2 is June 2010.

Question: Where can we access resources for this specification?
Answer: Specification guidance, sample assessment materials and schemes of work will be available alongside the specification. Resources are also available from the CiLT website.

Question: Will OCR make past papers available?
Answer: Yes. In response to centre demand, OCR will be publishing past papers for live specifications on the OCR website. These will be free of charge. Question papers from the June 2008 series will be available to download from OCR Interchange only. Further details are available from OCR Interchange.
GCSE Community Languages General

Question: Can students re-sit units?
Answer: Yes – students may re-sit each unit once. The better of the two marks will be used for certification. Remember that at least 40% of the GCSE has to be taken in the same series as certification (so students would need to sit at least 2 units in the year that they wanted to gain their final GCSE qualification).

Question: Can students take 2 short courses in June 2010?
Answer: Yes, they can, but they cannot convert the 2 short courses to a GCSE full course, because the GCSE full course certification is not available until 2011. A minimum of 40% (in this case 2 units making up 50%) of the qualification must be examined in the year of certification, which prevents the re-use of all units in 2011.

Question: Can you explain the time-line for the introduction of the new specification?
Answer: For students taking the GCSE full course, first certification of the new qualification will be in 2011.

Students may take units for the GCSE short course (either the Spoken Language short course or the Written Language short course) in 2010.

Students wishing to complete the GCSE full course in 2010 must be entered for the Legacy Specification. This will be the last examination series for the Legacy specification.

Question: Is there a minimum age for GCSE entry?
Answer: No – students can be entered for GCSE whenever they are ready to take the examinations.

Question: Is there a time limit to taking extra units?
Answer: No – units are valid for the life-time of the specification.

Question: Is there still a Higher Level paper for Gujarati?
Answer: No – in the new specification, there is only one tier for each skill area for the languages of Dutch, Gujarati, Persian, Portuguese and Turkish. The one tier examination paper is designed to cover all levels of ability from G – A* grades.

Question: What do you mean by “Linear” and “Modular” (Unitised)?
Answer: Linear means that students take the four units in linear mode, all together, in one examination series.

Unitised means that students do not have to take all the units in the qualification at the same time. If they wanted to they could take units over a period of time, e.g. two or three years and ‘bank’ them up until the time they want to get certification in the qualification.

Students could also take two units in Y10, bank them or use them to get a GCSE short course qualification and then take the other two units in Y11 (or even repeat the first two) to get a GCSE full course.

Question: What will be covered by the support materials?
Answer: There will be exemplar lesson plans and sample Schemes of Work covering one topic or sub-topic per language and a resources list for each of the 5 languages in the specification.
There are Specimen Assessment Materials for each unit in all languages on the OCR Website. www.ocr.org.uk/qualifications/gcsefor2009/
GCSE Community Languages Listening

Question: Can the Listening test be taken on-line?
Answer: Not yet – students write their answers in the spaces provided on the examination paper.

Question: Is the Listening paper now all in English?
Answer: All rubrics for the Listening and Reading units are in English. The questions on the Listening paper are in English in order to test the student’s ability to understand the spoken language, rather than their ability to understand the question(s) being asked.
GCSE Community Languages Reading

Question: Can the Reading test be taken on-line?
Answer: Not yet – students write their answers in the spaces provided on the examination paper.

Question: Is the Reading unit now all in English?
Answer: Yes, except the final exercise on the Reading unit which requires short answers (often one word or phrase) in the target language.
GCSE Community Languages Speaking

Question: Candidates are now allowed to use a dictionary during the preparation for the speaking exam when previously they were not allowed to. Why is this?
Answer: The speaking test for the new specification has to align with the speaking controlled assessment that students complete for GCSE French, German and Spanish. For this reason they are allowed a dictionary during the preparation time.

Question: Can you offer advice on the conduct of the speaking exam when there is no specialist in our centre?
Answer: The speaking test must be conducted by a person wthat the Head of Centre deems able and competent to do so. In the case of the GCSE Persian speaking test, for example, this means a person who can speak Persian well enough to carry out the teacher/examiner’s tasks according to the instructions. Ideally, such a person would be the student’s teacher. However, where there is no teacher, the centre may find someone else (not necessarily a teacher) who fits the above description. If it is not possible to find an ‘independent’ person to carry out the task, then a member of the student’s family could conduct the test provided he or she respects the strict rules of confidentiality required. In cases where a family member conducts the examination, he or she should spend time in the morning with a member of the Languages Department at the school preparing for the examination which should take place later on the same day. No contact between this person and the student should be made between the time the family member has sight of the confidential materials and the examination itself. We also recommend that a member of staff of the Centre (teacher or Examinations Officer) be present during the test to offer support and ensure that procedures are carried out in compliance with the requirements and regulations.

Question: Do we have to mark the speaking exam?
Answer: No – there are OCR external assessors who will mark the Speaking test.
Teachers record the test and send it to OCR. Instructions are provided in the Teacher/Examiner booklet sent to centres each examination series.

Question: How long will the new Speaking test last?
Answer: The speaking test lasts 10 minutes and there are two parts:
Part 1 is a 1 minute (max) presentation by the student followed by a 4 minute (max) discussion of the topic between the student and the teacher/examiner.
Part 2 is a 5 minute (max) conversation on ONE different topic. The teacher/examiner gives the student the opportunity to choose from 3 topics prescribed by OCR in the Speaking Test Teacher/Examiner booklet for each examination series.

Question: Will OCR provide the topic for the discussion?
Answer: No – each student can choose ANY topic of interest to him / her. The teacher/examiner will need know of the topic from the Speaking Tests Notes form, given to the teacher/examiner at the start of the students preparation period.

Question: Will teachers have to administer the speaking test on a particular day?
Answer: There will be an examining period of approximately two months for each examination series. Teachers may conduct the speaking test at any time during that period.
GCSE Community Languages Writing

Question: Are dictionaries allowed?
Answer: Yes, students can use a bilingual dictionary throughout the one hour paper.

Question: Can the writing tests be taken on-line?
Answer: Not yet – students write their answers in the spaces provided on the examination paper.

Question: Is the Writing test very different from the previous specification?
Answer: Yes, it is significantly different. There is one question on each of the 5 topic areas (set in English) and students answer 2 questions in the target language.

Note: each question must be for a different purpose, e.g. blog/email/magazine article/letter/script of a conversation.

Question: What type of writing will be involved?
Answer: Students write about a topic area. They are given the choice of format (e.g. e-mail or letter, magazine item or interview or conversation script). There are suggestions on what to include for each question but students can use their own ideas. Again, the Specimen Assessment Material on the OCR website gives examples www.ocr.org.uk/qualifications/gcsefor2009/

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