All you need to know about taking a Spanish GCSE!

3 mins
April 20, 2022
Did you know that Spanish is the dominant language in the western hemisphere? Or that Spanish is considered to be the most romantic language on earth? In this article, we’re talking GCSE options and we’re going to explain why Spanish is one of the most studied languages out there! So without further ado…

Is Spanish a hard GCSE?

Experts say that it takes 24 weeks to achieve professional proficiency in Spanish. We know that you have other subjects to study and probably won’t have a free 24 weeks to live, eat and breathe all things Spanish, but this fact does show you that it can be done and in a fairly short time period. If you compare this with other languages, like Mandarin, you’ll realize that Spanish lets you get off pretty easy! 

Is Spanish a good GCSE to take?

Spanish is the second most studied language in the world and it is the official language in over 22 countries and is also spoken in numerous other countries. The United States has over 45 million Spanish speakers, making it the second-largest Spanish-speaking country in the world and is expected to become the largest by 2050!

This is all to say that getting to a conversational or professional proficiency in Spanish is a great idea for a whole load of careers, like a translator or teacher. But aside from Spanish speaking jobs, it means you can easily transfer or travel with your current skills (like engineering, tech, healthcare). It’s also a great idea if you want to travel or live abroad.

So if you weren’t quite sure, these facts should go some way to help you feel confident that Spanish is a great GCSE to take. Another unexpected positive is that if you’re a budding linguist, the more languages you learn the easier it gets; so if you master Spanish, you already have a great base to learn Portuguese. If you understand Portuguese, you’ve got a great base to learn Arabic and the list goes on!

How to revise for Spanish GCSE?

The best way of knowing how to revise for an exam is to understand its structure; there's no point in spending ages mastering the pronunciations of words when you’ve got a writing exam coming up. So let’s have a look at the format - the Spanish  GCSE is usually split into 4 assessed parts. Let’s take the exam board AQA as an example:

  • Paper one, listening - tests your understanding and responding to different types of spoken language. In this case it forms 25% of your final grade. The exam will typically involve writing your answers as you listen to a recording. Some sections will be answered in English as you have to work out what’s going on/what’s being said by the characters in the recording. Another section of the exam will be written in Spanish as you need to identify which words/phrases are being spoken in the recording.
  • Paper two, speaking - tests your ability to communicate and interact effectively in speech for a variety of purposes. In the AQA exam there are role-play, photo card and general conversation sections designed to test your speaking ability in different contexts. This paper will make up 25% of your final grade.
  • Paper three, reading - tests your ability to understand and respond to different types of written language. There are questions in Spanish, English and a translation section too. This makes up another 25% of your final grade.
  • Paper four, writing - tests your ability to communicate effectively in writing for a variety of purposes. Again, there are questions in both English and Spanish. This makes up, you guessed it, the final 25% of your GCSE grade.

Can a native speaker do a Spanish GCSE?

Short answer? Yes. Longer answer? Some might say it’s unfair that bilingual students can take an exam in a language that they already know, but an exam is just a measure and proof of competence. It could be stated that your advantage in this exam, is a disadvantage in mandatory subjects like English. If you’re bilingual and English isn’t your first language and you have the opportunity to get a good grade in your first language, you’d be silly not to take the win!

Schools often encourage their bi-lingual students to take these exams as a way of boosting the school's averages, of course, it does mean that it's harder for non-native speakers to attain top grades as they're in competition with such students.

How can we help?

While we don’t currently have any resources that will help you get a great grade in your Spanish GCSE, we do have something that might help you to decide whether a Spanish GCSE is right for you. Our pathfinder quiz will help you to determine what career you’re most interested in, so you can see if Spanish can help!
As we can’t currently help with Spanish Language resources, we can link you to some great sites that will. See our top recommendations below! 

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