A-Level French Summer Work 2016



A-Level French Summer Work 2016
A-Level French
Summer Work 2016
There are three strands to the summer home-learning:
Introduction to Kiffe Kiffe Demain
This work has been designed to:
Prepare you for the demands of the A-Level course
Help you get into the habit of wider-reading and research
Bring your grammar up to scratch
You should have this work ready for the first lesson back. At the start of the year you will have a
diagnostic grammar test.
If you have any problems completing the work, or need any advice, you can contact us at
[email protected] or [email protected], on the
understanding that we may not reply immediately.
Over the summer you should also ensure that you:
Get hold of a “big” French dictionary, either Collins or Oxford. These usually cost around
£30, but you will be able to get them cheaper on Amazon or in second hand bookshops.
Set out your folder for the year. You will need a lever-arch file with sub-dividers for at least
each of the six “themes”, the text, grammar, and wider reading.
Wider-reading log
For the new A-Level course you will actually be marked on your wider knowledge of the themes studied and how they
relate to French speaking countries. You are expected to read around the themes on a weekly basis, and you should
get yourself into this habit now.
Some sources from articles could come from:
Most of the sites listed above will also have a YouTube channel. Some newspapers and TV stations have apps that you
can download.
A good radio station is http://www.nrj.fr/ .
If you have Twitter, it may be a good idea to follow some French news sites. The following Twitter accounts may be
Over the summer you are expected to access at least four articles or news items. At least one must be a video reports.
For each one, note down the date that you accessed the article, the website and title of the article, and a few brief
comments (in French) about it eg. what it was about and your own opinion. Around 75 words should be enough. As far
as possible they should relate to French-speaking countries.
Website +
Brief summary and thoughts
Kiffe Kiffe Demain
This is some of the key slang and vocabulary from the first few chapters. Match up the French and the English, and
learn as much of this vocabulary as you can.
eg. du vomi séché
dried sick
it doesn’t happen
je m’en fous
la sécu
dried sick
ça se passe pas
to clear off
woman - verlan for femme
se rendre compte
I’m not bothered
se casser
to eat
a book
se foutre de la gueule de quelqu’un
a lad
a shit
j’en aurais fait une vraie
la sécurité sociale (social security)
le sida
to tell-off
to marry
elle s’était fait pipi dessus
spitting image / boyfriend
un enfoiré
a thing
une assistante sociale
a knick-knack
un truc
he didn’t give a shit about us
to nick
a social worker
un sosie
to realise
un bibelot
to take the piss out of someone
faire un doigt d’honneur
you will always get screwed
il en avait rien à foutre de nous
she got peed on
un bouquin
fate (in Arabic)
quel destin de merde
I would have done a real one
tu te feras toujours couiller
what a shit future
le mektoub
to make a mistake
un gosse
to stick your finger up (in defiance)
High riser
Read the article about author Faïza Guène and make notes on racism and
life for immigrants in France today.
Faïza Guène's first novel, the semi-autobiographical tale of a young woman in Paris's deprived suburbs, was an instant
publishing sensation. But, she tells Angelique Chrisafis despite her success she is still a victim of modern France's
insidious racism
Just north of Paris, behind the tower blocks of Pantin, snakes the Serpentin council block, a bizarre monument to 60s
architecture. Hundreds of council flats stretch for more than a mile in an undulating pale-blue concrete "ripple" inspired
by Italian medieval towns. Some call it a design classic; others see it as a concrete prison. With its flaking paint, limited
amount of graffiti and small share of gangs, the Courtillières estate is not as bad as other dire wastelands of Paris's
suburbs. At least it has public transport and workers' allotments, and there is a government plan to finally freshen it up.
But the people here are poor. They carry the stigma of the "most-discriminated-against postcode in France": 93, SeineSaint-Denis, where the riots of 2005 started and where the high rises are still a byword for racism, youth unemployment
and lack of hope.
The Courtillières estate should by now be a literary pilgrimage site. It produced the novelist sensation Faïza Guène,
currently France's youngest bestselling writer, who at 19 became the defining new voice of a generation with her book,
Kiffe Kiffe Demain. Told in a language peppered with verlan - France's back-to-front Arabic-influenced slang - it is the
funny and ironic saga of 15-year-old Doria, whose dad has left for Morocco to find a younger wife, and whose mum toils
as a cleaner in a formula-one-themed motel. When the book came out in 2004, Guène was hailed as the "Françoise
Sagan of the high-rises", the antidote to the navel-gazing French novel in crisis. The book has sold more than 300,000
copies in France and has been a hit in 27 countries, including Britain, translated as Just Like Tomorrow.
Despite her success, Guène refused to leave the estate and continued living in a small flat with her parents, brother and
sister. This week, her second novel, written when she was 21, is published in Britain as Dreams from the Endz. It's the
story of Ahlème, a 24-year-old Algerian-born, "almost French" woman, whose teenage brother is going off the rails and
whose greatest comfort is her neighbour and mother-figure Tantie Mariatou, a hairdresser at Afro-Star in Paris's
Chateau d'Eau who yearns to go to America - she might not speak English but she speaks "the language of hair". The
book, dedicated to Guène's family and to Courtillières, earned her a new tag in one French newspaper: "Bridget Jones
of the banlieues." But her gentle irony is far more scathing than that. If her first novel predated the 2005 riots and carburnings on the estates, Dreams from the Endz captures the post-riot mood, with reflections on curfews, and Ahlème
locked in a constant battle to get her French identity papers - now the symbol of Nicolas Sarkozy's France as his
government hunts down and deports those immigrants without papers.
Guène, 23, is sitting at a cafe near Paris's science museum. She is beaming, having just handed her publishers her third
novel, set in a bar in a small town at the end of a suburban rail line. "I like telling stories about ordinary people, antiheroes of modest means," she says.
Guène should have a charmed life, a famous Frenchwoman who embodies her country's cultural mix. But discrimination
in France is so widespread, that even she - a star writer and currently one of the country's biggest literary exports - is
plagued by it. Last year, Guène married in a religious ceremony and the couple looked for a flat to rent near her parents
in Pantin. Her husband is black and was born in Ivory Coast. "When people said estate agents were racist, I always told
them to stop exaggerating. Then it hit me in the face. Just walking into an estate agent's office was a nightmare," she
says. She found herself telling her husband to stay at home while she went alone - being north African and having
slightly lighter skintone would be "less bad", she reasoned. When she made bookings to see flats over the phone, the
name Mademoiselle Guène didn't sound "too north African". But when she arrived at appointments and they saw her,
she was not allowed to see the flats. Seven months later, they still had no home. "I'd seen an apartment I liked but
heard nothing. Then one of the women from the estate agents' called and whispered: 'Look I live with a Moroccan guy, I
know it's not easy. The boss is away. Come in and sign the contract, so at least when she gets back there's nothing she
can do about it.' I felt like I was stealing it; that it wasn't legitimate; that I'd got in through a trap door."
Then Guène needed to find a high-earning friend or relative to act as guarantor. But no one she knew had a salary
above the bare minimum, so she had to ask her publisher. "In France when you're born poor, the whole system is set up
for you to stay poor," she says. She has called her generation of young French people born of immigrant parents the
"bastard children of France". In theory, France follows the republican model of integration where everyone is equal. But
as Guène and her French teenager friends of different races went through school doors engraved with the words liberty,
equality, fraternity, they realised that was a "lie". "Young people ask themselves: why? Why can't we have access to
that? And there's no answer. Raw, brute racism is clear, it's easy to identify. But there's something more subtle and
dangerous, a neo-colonialist feeling that still infuses society ... It's not about racism, it's about treating people
differently." Having foreign roots is like "a defect, a complex because we're always being pulled back to that fact,
reduced to it". Being poor plus having foreign roots is a double smear, she says.
Guène's father was 17 in 1952 when French recruiters came to his rural village in western Algeria in search of manual
workers to relocate to France and help reconstruct the country's ruined industries. He worked in the mines in northern
France, staying throughout Algeria's bloody war of independence, and only going home aged 46, after having become a
builder, to meet a wife. She was a 30-year-old villager who had been allowed by her family to choose her own husband.
But when she arrived in France in the early 1980s with him, to live in a small flat on an estate north of Paris, she was hit
with depression for two years. They had two daughters and a son, and moved to their flat on the Courtillières estate.
As a teenager, Guène wrote constantly, reading passages to her family and filling notebooks that her mother would
eventually throw away when they took up too much space in the flat. She was discovered by chance. "Write it large that
I was discovered by accident," she says. "I reject this idea that my success is down to the 'good workings of the
republican school system'. I slipped through the net." A teacher from a neighbouring school set up a screenwriting
workshop at the estate's community centre. Guène arrived with ideas for films. When one day he read 30 pages of the
beginning of a novel the 17-year-old was writing, he asked if he could show them to someone else. It was his sister who
ran a publishing house in Paris. Guène was immediately signed up. If it hadn't happened she would probably have
continued writing for the rest of her life and never shown anyone. Her experience of school was not positive. She talks
of teachers reluctantly sent to the suburbs on their first job "almost as a punishment", so "the desire to impart wisdom is
When Guène's first novel came out, the high-rise estates dumped in the hinterland beyond ring-roads and motorways
seemed like another planet to the Parisian establishment. They still do. First, she was courted by Dominique de
Villepin's government. Since Sarkozy became president, she has been invited to an official dinner and even called by a
minister. She has declined every government approach. She thinks Sarkozy's appointment of women ministers of
immigrant origin - Rachida Dati, Fadela Amera and Rama Yade - was cynical. He uses them as "alibis" while the daily
struggle of the rest of the French population called Rachida or Fadela hasn't changed. His constant references to having
placed them where they are makes it seem "almost as if he appointed them out of charity".
One thing Guène notices as she tours the world, attends book fairs in Britain and lectures on the evolution of slang in
the US, is that back in France, she tends to take up more space on the "society" rather than the "literary" pages of the
papers. She is still trying to escape the tag of "the little girl from the banlieue" or "the beurette who writes" - ("beur" is the
verlan slang for Arab). Verlan itself, a mix of inverted French words, old French slang, Arabic, African and Gypsy words,
at least now has a dictionary compiled by young people. Since the hit 1995 film La Haine, set on an estate, verlan has
been the height of cool for foreign audiences. "But France hasn't yet understood that this is a part of the French
language, it isn't some sort of separate language, and it's very rich," Guène says.
She feels France's attitude to her as a French writer with immigrant roots is different to everywhere else she has
travelled to promote her books. In Britain, the idea of a bestselling novelist whose characters deal with mixed cultural
identities has been so mainstream for so long - a vast spectrum including giants like Hanif Kureishi or more recently
Zadie Smith and Monica Ali - that it would seem too commonplace to shock. Even the notion of writing about a workingclass, high-rise council estate, with the slang wordplay of Irvine Welsh, has long been the norm.
But in France, despite her huge readership, the elite still see fiction set in the suburbs as something exotic and alien.
Society is so polarised that the world Guène writes about is not something the establishment has ever seen close up;
they are not streets they might ever have walked down, even by accident. She is still asked with wide-eyed fascination
about the forbidden lands. "I feel ridiculous explaining things like people there love each other too, that they decide to
have babies out of love and not just to claim benefits."
She says every time she lands in London she finds herself marvelling at women going about their lives in headscarves,
without the state deciding where they can or can't wear them. She meets people in London from the estates of "93",
Seine-Saint-Denis, hoping to find a job without their race, name or postcode putting a brake on them. She thinks nothing
has improved on French estates since the riots. "If that hasn't changed things, what will? Apart from civil war or
The elite of Paris writers haven't accepted Guène into their fold. She's not alone in feeling that France's stilted,
hidebound literary scene badly needs "new blood". But she thinks the literary establishment still believes the suburbs
and poor people are "not noble or interesting enough to belong to literature or fiction". It's fine for people from the highrises to play football, or rap but the idea of intellectuals existing there is still taboo. Oddly, considering her huge
international success, she hasn't won any prizes in France, just small informal awards voted by young people and
readers. Does she think that will change? "The big prizes? Are you crazy? Never, never in my life will I get a prize. That
would mean recognising that what I write is literature, that there are intellectuals in the banlieues. That's where nothing's
changing and the neo-colonialist vision comes in to play ... the idea that the 'natives' can do sport, sing and dance but
not think."
Does she ever hang out with the French writing elite? "The rare times I meet these people they look right through me,"
she says.
When you return in September we will be giving you a grammar test based on the tenses listed below. You can
use the following website to read the grammar rule about how to form the tenses and to practise using them.
Select: français -> grammar
The Present Tense (Le présent)
The Perfect Tense (Le passé composé)
The Perfect Tense 2
The Future Tense (le Futur)
The Imperfect Tense (L’imparfait)
The Conditional Tense (Le Conditionnel)
1. The present tense:
- regular –er, -ir, -re verb formation with all pronouns
- irregular verbs: aller / avoir / être / faire / pouvoir / vouloir / devoir / boire / écrire / lire / prendre (see table below)
aller = to go
je vais
tu vas
il/elle va
nous allons
vous allez
ils / elles vont
être = to be
je suis
tu es
il/elle est
nous sommes
vous êtes
ils / elles sont
vouloir = to want to
je veux
tu veux
il veut
nous voulons
vous voulez
ils / elles veulent
lire = to read
je lis
tu lis
il lit
nous lisons
vous lisez
ils/ elles lisent
avoir = to have
tu as
il/ elle a
nous avons
vous avez
ils / elles ont
faire = to do / make
je fais
tu fais
il / elle fait
nous faisons
vous faites
ils / elles font
devoir = to have to
je dois
tu dois
il doit
nous devons
vous devez
ils / elles doivent
prendre = to take
je prends
tu prends
il prend
nous prenons
vous prenez
ils/ elles prennent
boire = to drink
je bois
tu bois
il/elle boit
nous buvons
vous buvez
ils / elles boivent
pouvoir = to be able to
je peux
tu peux
il peut
nous pouvons
vous pouvez
ils / elles peuvent
écrire = to write
tu écris
il écrit
nous écrivons
vous écrivez
ils/ elles écrivent
voir = to see
je vois
tu vois
il voit
nous voyons
vous voyez
ils / elles voient
The past tense:
regular –er / -ir / -re verbs which take the auxiliary verb ‘avoir’ and how to form past participles
irregular past participles (see table below)
verbs which take the auxiliary verb ‘être’(MRS VAN DE TRAMP) and how to make the past participles agree
avoir = eu
boire = bu
courir = couru
dire = dit
falloir = fallu
ouvrir = ouvert
être = été
conduire = conduit
croire = cru
dormir = dormi
lire = lu
pleuvoir = plu
pouvoir = pu
savoir = su
voir = vu
recevoir = reçu
tenir = tenu
vouloir = voulu
faire = fait
connaître = connu
devoir = dû
écrire = écrit
mettre = mis
prendre = pris
comprendre = compris
apprendre = appris
rire = ri
vivre = vécu
suivre = suivi
3. The future tense
- regular –er/ -ir / -re verbs and endings for all pronouns (ai, as, a, ons, ez, ont)
- irregular verb stems* (see table below)
4. The imperfect tense:
- regular formation (present tense nous form, remove –ons) and endings for all pronouns (ais, ais, ait, ions, iez,
aient) *NB. être the only irregular verb in the imperfect
- être / avoir / faire / aller/ vouloir / pouvoir / devoir
5. The conditional tense
- regular –er/-ir/-re verbs and endings for all pronouns (ais, ais, ait, ions, iez, aient)
- irregular verb stems* (see table below)
*Irregular verb stems in the future and conditional tenses:
Future and conditional stem
Course Information
(for info. only)
Areas of Study
Year 12
Year 13
Exam Structure

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