The GCSE in French involves controlled assessments and is therefore not generally available to private candidates. The French qualification at this level available in the UK to home educators is the IGCSE or International GCSE. It is offered by Edexcel and CIE exam boards.  NOTE:  The Speaking and Listening Component is compulsory.  You MUST confirm that you have an exam centre prepared to do the speaking test, as most centres will not do this for external candidates. Do not assume that an exam centre which takes candidates for written tests knows about this, as until a couple of years ago, the oral exams were optional for IGCSE.

Exam boards for FrenchEdit

Edexcel IGCSE French Exam code 4FR0Edit

[Edexcel International GCSE French] has no coursework or controlled assessment and is 100% externally assessed and so can be taken by private candidates. The specification changed from 2009 to 2011 and includes the speaking paper which has now become a compulsory component. The current specification gives guidance and information related to examinations sat in June 2014 and onwards. Parents must find an exam centre willing to take them on board for the speaking component which usually happens between mid-March and the date of the written exam (mid-May).

There are three papers to be accessed in the Edexcel IGCSE French: the listening paper (25% of the marks), the reading and writing paper (25% of the marks for the reading and 25% for the writing), the speaking paper (25% of the marks). Students usually find the speaking exam the most stressful. 

The Edexcel website says: 

« Knowledge and understanding of foreign languages is an increasingly important asset in today’s global society. Covering a broad range of topic areas and developing all four language skills – listening, reading, writing and speaking - the latest Edexcel International GCSE in French offers your students an excellent foundation in language study.»

The specification highlights some key benefits of this qualification:

"This qualification has been developed:

  • to provide breadth, stretch and challenge 
  • to enable students to show what they know, understand and can do within a  clearly defined list of topic and sub-topic areas 
  • to provide a single tier of entry which tests the whole ability range 
  • to provide written assessment in listening, reading and writing skills 
  • to provide assessment rubrics in both English and the target language in both Paper 1 and Paper 2 
  • to provide assessment of spoken language 
  • to provide 100% external assessment 
  • to provide progression to GCE AS and Advanced GCE level, and other equivalent qualifications. 

[The Edexcel Certificate in French] has the same content as the International GCSE, but is the version branded for UK state schools and approved by OFQUAL.  It has the same compulsory speaking element.  For home educators there is no practical difference between the International GCSE and the Edexcel Certificate, but for a UK state school, the Certificate would count towards school performance statistics if taken by an enrolled pupil.  As private candidates' results do not count towards school results, it should make no difference to the exam centre whether you take the International GCSE or the Certificate.

CIE IGCSE French –Foreign Language Exam code 0685 Edit

[CIE IGCSE French] - "This syllabus is designed for students who are learning French as a foreign language. The aim is to develop learners' ability to use the language effectively for purposes of practical communication. The course is based on the linked language skills of listening, reading, speaking and writing, and these are built on as learners progress through their studies. The syllabus also aims to offer insights into the culture and civilisation of countries where French is spoken, thus encouraging positive attitudes towards language learning and towards speakers of foreign languages.”


French Courses and TextbooksEdit

[E-French Tuition Online] - courses from a home-educating parent and qualified French teacher and native French speaker, Véronique Barrot. Recommended by some home educators on the HE-exams group. She offers live online KS3 and IGCSE French courses as well as one to one tuition packages specially designed for home educated children. Every year she has new courses starting in September. 

[Galore Park] publish a range of French materials and are very home-ed friendly. 

“At Galore Park, we do not shy away from grammar and learning the structure of a language - in our French courses, pupils go back to basics and learn how the language works. We learn ER verbs, IR verbs and RE verbs as if they had never gone away, and the result is that users of our course are able to progress with confidence to a genuine understanding of this language.(…). Songs will help pupils to learn key vocabulary while grammar exercises ensure that they learn the structure of the language from day one”

Online resourcesEdit

[DuoLingo] - Free interactive site, good for a few European languages - also available as iPad and Android apps.  Includes lessons, tests, and a competitive and optional social element.  Great for teaching you exact spellings and accents.  Really good fun. May be better suited to teens than littlies as many of the sentences you have to translate are about drinking wine and beer!  As well as completing exercises and gaining points, you can help to translate the web via a crowdsourcing project.

[Busuu] - Interactive site and language learning community - can put you in touch with other learners to practise together.  

[Conversation Exchange] - Pairs you with another learner who wants to learn, say, English - you can meet, Skype, email etc.. to practise.

[Zut!] - Interactive language site, free outside school hours.  Covers French, German, Welsh and Spanish.

[Memrise] - Vocabulary building using fun mnemonics techniques in a game-like format.  Covers many languages including French, Mandarin and Japanese. “A world memory champion and a neuroscientist have joined forces to create a language-learning website called Memrise, which combines mnemonic tricks with a game to help users learn quickly and efficiently”

[Quizlet] - Vocabulary flashcards in French and other languages 

[BBC Languages]- Courses in a number of languages, all free online.

Language Resources UK - games, printable worksheets, teacher resources.

Online Tutors via SkypeEdit

There are various online tutor sites where you can get one-to-one tuition over Skype, usually cheaper than face-to-face.  eg see [The Tutor Crowd] or this French specialist tutor: