Junior Cert French: No ‘curveballs’ in predictable paper

Examination paper highlighted the importance of learning basic French vocabulary

Students were asked to answer questions on a passage about a canal clean-up. Photograph: iStockphoto

Students were asked to answer questions on a passage about a canal clean-up. Photograph: iStockphoto


Junior Cert students emerged very happy from their French exam on Wednesday after sitting a predictable paper that threw up few surprises.

Candidates who had done their work would have had no problems with the exam paper, according to teachers.

“A lovely, lovely paper for Junior Cert honours. I’ve already had feedback from my students and they were absolutely delighted with it. There were no major surprises,” said Elizabeth Hayes-Lynne, of FrenchNotes.ie and the author of school textbook Bonne Chance.

Natasha Lynch of Essential French said: “The Junior Cert paper was a very fair paper. I thought the comprehensions were fair. It was a lovely mix of things. They had the typical recipe, the signs, very typical, nothing unusual. Sometimes there’s a choice of a formal letter or an informal letter and the kids panic but thank God there was just a nice simple informal letter which was fine.”

“For the reading they would have needed recipe vocabulary, school vocabulary, they would have needed to know the words connected with railway stations, signs and notices - which I would always say are very, very important to know,” said Ms Hayes-Lynne.

The two-and-a-half hour examination is broken into three sections: listening comprehension, reading comprehension and written expression. In the listening comprehension, candidates were asked to show their ability to correctly understand and answer questions on passages of spoken French.

Despite the positive reception given to the paper overall, Ms Lynch said some students might have had difficulties with a question on hairdressing.

“There was a piece on hairdressing. I can tell you for a fact that Leaving Cert honours would not have been able to understand some of that comprehension. That could very easily have been put into a Leaving Cert honours question.”

Another question about the clean-up of a canal in Paris might have been a challenge to some students.

“That was an interesting one,” said Ms Hayes-Lynne. “They may not have been too used to that vocabulary. Some students might have had some problems with that but again there are a lot of words that would be the same in English and French. ”

The 2018 French paper also highlighted the importance of learning the basic vocabulary as a lot of the same themes come up each year.

“There tends to be very little variance. It tends to be the same kind of thing that comes up every year. Maybe one year you will find that there is more on school subjects or school objects and another year it might be more about animals. And of course, weather, direction and numbers. They are the mainstays of the exam that you need to know every year.

“It was a very predictable paper if you had learned the vocabulary. And, every teacher in this country would have told their students - learn you basic vocabulary - know your numbers, know your dates and they would have had not problem, said Elizabeth Hayes-Lynne.

The Ordinary Level paper also received a good reception.

“The vocabulary was very, very easy. The postcard or the Note were simple. Students ’loved’ the tape. The listening comprehension went down very well with people,” said Ms Hayes-Lynne.

“There was one question on teenagers and what problems they have. They can relate to a lot of these things because they go through it themselves - they’re not allowed out or their mother takes their mobile phone”.