Department of French

Modern & Medieval Languages

Department of French

Use of French, Paper B1

Aims and Objectives | Examination Paper | Programme du Trimestre

Examination Paper

The Use of French paper (B1) requires candidates to analyse in French a passage of 550 words maximum. The paper is divided into 5 compulsory sections, which weigh variably for the total mark.

All answers should be written in French. Answers to all questions should be written in complete sentences. A bank of Specimen Papers (only slightly different from the new format of the exam) is available in the Faculty Library.

Section 1 Grammaire(30%)

A: Verbes

Students will be able to manipulate the whole range of tenses and moods as appropriate. This skill will be tested by an exercise in which students are presented with various sentences (either consecutive or separate) in which certain infinitives (maximum 20) are placed in brackets. The students are asked to transform infinitives into the correct form of the verb. The sentences could be based loosely on the theme of the passage in that year's examination paper.

B: Points de grammaire

The aims of this section of the paper are to encourage you to gain a systematic and secure knowledge of French grammar, and to develop habits of grammatical accuracy in both written and oral French. Teaching for this section will be provided in use of French classes, but there is at the same time an expectation that you will spend time on your own mastering such things as irregular verb forms, for which private study is the only means of learning. Traditional grammars and web-based learning will both prove helpful in this area, and the Department will make recommendations about what resources are available. The particular areas of grammar tested in the use of French examination will vary from year to year, but will include the following:

  • use of tenses
  • use of moods
  • use of articles
  • agreements
  • use of prepositions
  • irregular plurals (adjectives and nouns)
  • personal pronouns
  • relative and interrogative pronouns
  • negation
  • word order
  • use and formation of adverbs

Section 2: Compréhension et lexique(15%)

The aim of this exercise is to test the comprehension of very specific lexical items. Candidates are expected to replace the underlined expressions with synonyms. As far as metaphors are concerned, they should either be replaced by an equivalent metaphor or by a paraphrase (in any case the full meaning of the initial sentence should be rendered, candidates are expected to reproduce the implicit meaning of the initial sentence inasmuch as possible). Each sentence should be written from the writer's point of view.

Section 3: Compréhension et synthèse(15%).

This section requires candidates to answer one question aimed to test their comprehension of a specific part of the text which will be clearly indicated. The word limit is 80-100 words. Candidates should not quote at all from the text in this section.

Section 4: Analyse stylistique (15%)

The objective of this section is to make students focus on stylistics and argumentative aspects of the text. There are mainly two reasons for this :

  • Students should be aware of how a text is constructed, this exercise is a way to help them develop their reading and writing skills
  • Various grammatical aspects of a text (use of tenses, subject inversion, use of negations) cannot be explained without referring to the text as a whole, therefore the course aims at combining theoretical grammar and grammar in use, and will sometimes involve a brief textual analysis of passages (journalistic or other).

Candidates are invited to comment upon the style and register of one clearly defined section of the passage: they are expected to show, where appropriate, an awareness of the difficulty of defining register and of the tensions that might exist between registers in a text. This will be done by testing a candidate's ability to describe and comment upon: the use of tenses, rhetorical and grammatical terms (such as images and metaphors, antonyms and hyperboles, nominal sentences and pronouns) irony, syntax (particularly the effect of complex syntax, inversion, and the use of interrogatives), or register (in particular "le français familier" and le "français soutenu"). There is a word limit of 150 words and only one specific aspect will be raised by one question.

Section 5: Réaction (25%)

This section will focus on your writing skills, with a view to making you use idiomatic French in different contexts and styles. It will give you the opportunity to put to good use the vocabulary and turns of phrase you will have found in the texts studied in class and at home.

The aim is to make you more aware of the ways you can manipulate the reader by using narrative strategies. You will be asked to rewrite a text, using the same or similar arguments or line of ideas, in order to give it a new point of view, or a different register. You will learn how to transform one register into another, to create a different effect on the reader by using rhetorical tools which you will have learned to identify in section 4 for instance. You will be required to adopt a new style or point of view in the form of a letter (to an editor or a friend ) or of an article. New ideas can be brought in, if necessary, to help you follow the approach to adopt. It is a creative exercise which should allow you to re-use idioms and other language skills you will have learned from other texts. Word limit: 200-250 words max.