EducationExam reaction

Leaving Cert Italian: unfamiliar vocabulary may have thrown some students

A paper which had ‘something for everyone’. with sufficient challenges to allow top scorers to show off their vocabulary

Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

The higher-level Italian paper contained familiar topics with unfamiliar vocabulary, but the paper reflected practised ideas and discussion topics.

Erika Capello, an Italian teacher at the Institute of Education, said that the paper had something for everyone, with sufficient challenges to allow top scorers to show off their vocabulary.

“This was a very approachable paper, but the occasional challenge will require students to think carefully and keep a clear head,” she said.

“The topics of pollution and holidaying in Italy are well-studied, with the latter being a key discussion point for the oral, so students will be on familiar ground for mostof the exam,” Ms Capello said.


“The opening reading comprehension was a journalistic passage on pollution, but with the twist of only being about the sea. Not everyone would be as prepared to discuss the specific topic of ‘dell’ambiente marino’ (the environment of the sea), and so will have been pushed out of their comfort zone.

“Each paragraph had phrases or ideas with which very few students would be familiar with. In the case of ‘lavorano in maniera sinergica’ students would need to connect the ‘sinergica’ to ‘synergistic’, which is already a challenging piece of English vocabulary, to properly grasp the specific idea of ‘working together in a synergistic way”. This challenge was balanced by very approachable questions, so students who were task-focused could effectively navigate this section, but that required them to keep calm in a stressful setting.”

Ms Capello said that many students were relieved to see the studied text, “Marcovaldo”, appear.

“‘Marcovaldo’ can be a dauntingly complex work, but this piece was very manageable,” she said.

Question three in section three was more challenging than many would have anticipated.

“The letter prompt asked students to apply for a ‘tironcinio’ (internship) and required them to specify the sector in which they wished to work. While this allows space for a strong student to think creatively, weaker students might struggle to adapt to such an open prompt.”

Try this one at home:

Higher-level Italian, section C, question 2

Guided Composition:

You travel to Sardinia for the first time with your friends. Use any six of the following ideas:

Finalmente finiti esami di maturità

Organizzare viaggio in Sardegna con amici

Molto caldo in Sardegna

Conoscere studenti italiani

Fare diverse attività


Pranzare in ristorante tipico

Incontrare cantante preferito in vacanza

Rientrare in albergo molto tardi

Raccontare tutto rientro in Irlanda