GCSE Spanish and Modern Language Revision Guide

The text '#evestudies modern languages gcse revision tips' over a photo of a notebook strewn with coloured pens.

¡Hola! Bonjour! As GCSE season approaches, I’d like to share another revision tips post. I am, in fact, currently revising Spanish so this is very relevant to my daily life.

I know many people take modern foreign languages for GCSE, whether that be Spanish, French, German, Mandarin, or anything else. Revising for languages can seem intimidating, and so I’m here to provide you with some starting points. I also want to reassure that you do not have to be completely fluent to achieve the grades you want at GCSE, or to communicate with people from another country. It’s all a matter of taking small steps to get there, wherever ‘there’ might be for you.

So, for some context I took Spanish GCSE and am now taking it at A-Level. Although this will be based on my experience revising for Spanish, I also believe that many of the strategies can be applied to other modern languages too. These are the strategies that work best for me, but as always keep in mind that all our brains work differently so if a certain method doesn’t work for you then it’s not a problem! You can try another!

The GCSE exam is split into four parts, so it makes sense to split your practice into four broad categories: reading, writing, listening, and oral. 

However, before it comes to practising these skills, it’s important to revise the foundations of the language — grammar, vocab, and subject content. I prioritise basic grammar (such as being able to use verbs in different tenses) and vocabulary over everything. Both of these central pillars are important in EVERY aspect of the exam.

But how exactly can you revise these elements of the language? My favourite resource for studying up on grammar is languagesonline.org.uk. (They also have French, German and Italian) Before doing anything else I like to go through the most important tenses to refresh my memory. If you struggle with figuring out how to form a tense I would definitely recommend spending some time looking at the present, preterite and future. You can do a few exercises each day and then come back to them later. With languages, I find that spreading out your practice often helps it stick in your memory more than trying to cram everything in during one concentrated session. I also used the Viva Edexcel grammar and translation workbook for Spanish which is excellent.

There’s just too much vocab to learn — how can you make a meaningful start on it?  Of course, learning vocab throughout your course will prove very useful. But it’s OK, there’s still time! Instead of attempting to work from the whole 1,500 word vocab list for the entire GCSE (or whatever it is), I went through the textbook and created a Quizlet set for all the words that I didn’t know and thought were the most important. This left me with three sets of 100-200 words which grouped the modules together. I love Quizlet because whenever I’m on the train, waiting in the lunch queue etc I can revise a little bit of vocab and get just that little bit further.

I know that many people (myself included) find language orals very nerve-wracking. The degree to which you prepare your oral answers is up to you — in the new exam board we did, they penalised us for sounding too prepared which I absolutely understand. However, if you’re not confident I’d advise doing at least a little practise of some questions, especially for the roleplay, even if that’s practising improvisation. (Which in the end is better for learning to speak the language!)

I did prepare some answers, but tried to focus on learning content I might have to bring up, like where I did my work experience, rather than on the language. I do think it’s a decision you have to make based on your experiences and fluency in the language though.

I would absolutely recommend trying to listen to some non-exam-based Spanish because I found that it really helped not only my listening but my speaking. By forcing me to ‘think’ more in Spanish rather than constantly translating and thus not speaking so well. In particular, I like the Notes in Spanish podcast and News in Slow Spanish. This could also include TV shows or Youtube videos — hopefully there’s something you’ll find interesting.

Finally, speaking in the language with your friends is a fun way to not only be building up your language skills but also having fun! Even if it’s not the most beautiful complex language, I find that talking to my friends is a very relaxed atmosphere where I can build up my confidence.

So, to recap some concrete strategies you might use whilst revising, you could be:

  • Going through the textbook, noting down important content and unknown words
  • Going through grammar on languages online or in a grammar workbook
  • Revising vocab on Quizlet
  • Doing a mock oral card, recording yourself and listening back
  • Going through the oral answers and speaking them to yourself or someone else
  • Doing practise listening/reading exercises from the textbook
  • Building up listening skills by watching TV, listening to podcasts etc.

I hope you find this post useful, and good luck with both your exams and language learning. 🙂 You can also check out my other revision tips posts for GCSE Music and GCSE Science.

are there any languages you’d like to learn? I have SO MANY! do you have any tips for revision for language gcses, or learning languages in general?

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Summer Favourites!

You may have noticed that my monthly favourites just sort of…disappeared from the blog. I know it didn’t have much of an explanation. BUT! Although it might sound hard to believe (I mean, this is me) I actually did have a master plan. 😛 From now on I’m going to be doing round-ups every three months — that is, quarterly. Except it’s going to run from December – February, March – May etc. because seasons and cohesion. Yeah. DON’T ASK. Doing a round-up every month was just becoming a bit of a chore for me, but I still wanted to be able to check in and share the great posts I’ve been reading. Hopefully I’ll start being more organised with keeping track of posts haha!

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1. Nothing’s Real by Shura YAY, I have listening to a bunch of great queer music lately! I first came across Shura when I found her video What’s It Gonna Be? on Tumblr, which to be honest STILL makes me sigh in happiness. It is so wonderful and cute and excellently aesthetic and you all need to click on that link right now…(No, seriously: KEEP WATCHING TO THE END. It’s fab.) Anyway, I bought her full album and it’s awesome and now I might have a tiny crush…? Erm. Anyway.

2. Japanese Woah, guys. I ACTUALLY LEARNT SOME JAPANESE. (I’m attempting to learn some for my trip next year.) I feel so proud of myself. I’ve only done the first few lessons in my textbook (an old edition of Japanese For Busy People) and a bit of a Memrise but I feel very productive. I’ve also signed up to an online course on Minato, so let’s see how that goes.

3. This Savage Song by VE Schwab Let’s be real: it’s a Schwab book. It was always going to end up in my favourites. The writing was beautiful as I per usual and I adored all of the characters! It was also completely awesome to be able to go to one of her events, asdfjkl. (In a subtle bit of self-promotion: here! check out the post where I wrote about it! :P)

4. Isn’t It Strange? by Lauren Aquilina *shrieks* A NEW LOZZA AQ FULL LENGTH ALBUM, WHAT IS LIIIFE. I’ve listened to it in full about 3 times already and…honestly. I think my life is complete. IT’S SO BEAUTIFUL. Expect more flailing in the future. 😉

5. Mr Robot Another programme I finally got round to watching. I find it a bit intense and occasionally a bit of a downer, but it’s a seriously awesome programme. I have 2 episodes left of the first series to watch. (Yes. I know. I watch TV programmes pretty rarely and if I do it’s with the pace of a snail. This is impressive for me.)

6. Serial I downloaded this podcast to my ancient iPod some time ago, but I only recently got round to listening to it. And woah, it’s so gripping! I’d definitely recommend it.

7. Alexander Hamilton  by Ron Chernow I am very proud of myself for finishing this brick of a book. It evens rivals The Brick (aka Les Mis) for historical density. Despite its length, though, I actually found it super readable! And…well. My Hamilton obsession is only increasing, to be honest. I’d recommend it to anyone with an interest in the American Revolution! (Because history actually is as crazy as the musical.)

8. Slovenia and Croatia So, my big trip this summer was travelling with Guides around Slovenia and Croatia! I’d been fundraising and working together with 13 other girls from my area for just under a year and the trip was absolutely AMAZING. I mean…Girlguides is a little weird for me, because obviously everyone assumes you’re a girl. But it was so nice and asadfjkl I AM FILLED WITH JOY FOR GUIDING & SCOUTING. If you guys ever get the chance to go on an international trip with a scouting organisation I’d definitely recommend it! ❤

stuff from around the internet:

  • I wrote about the Unforgivable Curses for #PotterheadJuly and I am still quite proud of that post. I just…enjoy fun Harry Potter things ahaha.
  • Well, er, Brexit happened. I talked about it just beforehand and just after. You’ll probably see some difference… -_-
  • I talked about all the languages I really want to learn! For some reason this post was super popular…? I have no idea hy, but YAY. It’s been wonderful flailing about languages with everyone! ❤
  • The Finding Our Feet project is finally live! I’ve been working this in collaboration with Em @ Adventures of a Lost Teen and Victoria @ Addlepates and Book Nerds. I do hope you enjoy it. 🙂
  • Chiara @ Delicate Eternity wrote a guest post on The Daily Prophecy about the importance of LGBTQ+ retellings, along with many recommendations.
  • Both alwaysopinionatedgirl and Alicia @ A Kernel of Nonsense wrote about the wonderfulness of Ginny Weasley and why she is more than just a love interest. *coughs* like the movies made her out to be *coughs*
  • Michelle @ The Writing Hufflepuff created the Amsterdam Book Tag, which is SERIOUSLY cool. And I definitely need to do it. Everyone: PLEASE REMIND ME TO DO THIS.
  • The world has been blessed with new Hayley Kiyoko music and a video! Mmm, the song is called Gravel to Tempo seriously wonderful.
  • Look! The cast of Class! Only the new Doctor Who spin off written by Patrick Ness. I am…actually really excited for this ahaha. *nods* It’s due to air around October, which will hopefully keep me surviving through school.
  • Ayy, the BBC is making a Les Mis miniseries. I AM SO HYPED. I was so hyped that I even wrote about all the things I want to see in it. I will doubtless be nattering to you all about this in the future, because HELLO I am still very much a Les Mis nerd haha.

in the diary:

  • Well. June was a little dominated by a) internal exams over the first half and b) Brexit over the second. I mean…I don’t want to write a massive thing about Brexit now because that’s a whole post in itself. I think it’s fair to say that whilst I am feeling a lot better about it, it’s always a jolt in my mind when I remember. :/ I just finished reading Ron Chernow’s biography of Alexander Hamilton and he’s all like tryign to create a system with a balance of government and people. And I do feel like this is an example of something popular but not good… Like, WHY ARE WE MAKING THINGS SO DIFFICULT ON PURPOSE. But yeah. Anyways. British politics is crazy right now ahaha.
  • However, June was also Pride month! This was my first time actually reading & participating slightly more in stuff so that rocked. I am still sad that I couldn’t make it to London Pride, but I swear to you: NEXT YEAR.
  • I went to Wimbledon and saw Serena & Venus Williams, which I am STILL VERY IN AWE ABOUT. Asdfjkl it was a pretty insane day.
  • I was so excited to do a swap box with the lovely Em @ Adventures of a Lost Teen! I mean, the internet is great and all but sometimes it’s awesome to get something real in the post. There were loads of wonderful things in it besides the ones pictured as well! (But THAT BOOKMARK THO.) You can check out Em’s post with my swap box here.

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  • I learnt how to make lemon curd and subsequently made it several times. IT’S SO FREAKING TASTY. And it’s really easy to make! (Which is good for me considering I’m not the best cook ever.)
  • I’ve just generally be hanging out and doing fun things over the summer: meeting friends, making ice cream, going into town. Writing. Reading. It’s wonderful to have some time on my hands. 🙂
  • I head back to school today — well, I’m writing this a little earlier, but on the first — and although school and work and stress…I’m also pretty excited to be starting another year. 🙂 I’ve dropped a bunch of subjects this year and we’re getting entirely new classes so it should be good! And I am weirdly excited for the History syllabus, to be honest haha.

I hope you all had a good summer! And if any of you guys got your exam results back then congrats, and I hope you’re pleased.

how was your summer? are you back at school (or not)? listened to any good music lately?

7 Languages I’d Like to Speak // struck by linguistic love

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I HAVE SO MANY LANGUAGES APART FROM ENGLISH THAT I WANT TO LEARN. Literally all of them. There are way too many languages in the world. And let’s remember that I’m still on my way to learn English. I just…LIKE LANGUAGES A LOT. ❤ I have such a busy summer ahead of me. Even though I probably won’t end up doing all the work I want, but hey!

1. Spanish This is probably my favourite language at school! I want to be able to read the Spanish copy of Eleanor & Park I bought. Don’t ask. There’s also a lot of Spanish literature I’d love to read in its original language, but… HOPEFULLY. Someday. I’m going to make this happen.

2. Old English The language of Beowulf, Merlin, and the maybe the basis for Elvish. (Which makes an appearance later.) I have basically no knowledge of this language at all, unlike most of the others on this list, but thank Maggie Stiefvater. The Raven Cycle inspires unknown language-learning, okay?

3. Japanese Yes. I am in theory learning this, but I’ve basically only learnt the hiragana and katakana so far. So I can read some things phonetically! But I can’t tell you what they mean. The hope and the dream is to watch a Ghibli film in its original language (and without subs). Because I am a nerd, and I like Studio Ghibli.

4. Latin The textbook we have is kind of silly — yeah it’s the Cambridge one with Caecilius and everything, hi to anyone else who knows what I’m talking about — but this would be awesome to be able to know it a bit better. I could be Ronan Lynch. With a bonus of obscure words definitions.

5. British Sign Language Obviously BSL is different to the other languages here! There are no opportunities at all to learn it at school, so I think I should at least learn some basic phrases. It’s really cool. And then you can speak in all sorts of situations where you can’t vocally say stuff.

6. French I just handed in my options to give this up next year. *sighs* I have to many subjects that I want to study and it’s awful. I still hold my Les Mis/living in Paris fantasies in my heart, though, and I AM GOING TO MAKE THEM HAPPEN. Even if it means visiting with another person who, you know, actually can communicate. I will not give this up.

7. Elvish I’m not going to lie here: I went through a phase of researching constructed languages (i.e. made up languages) and it was all very nerdy and academic. But being able to speak Elvish would be awesome, no?| IT WOULD BE LIKE A SECRET CODE. I wish I could learn Morse Code as well. I know it’s not really a language, but can we just put that as the honorary eighth? I don’t want to break the seven tradition, guys.

do you speak more than one language? which ones would you like to learn? are you torn in WAY too many different directions like me? 😛