Junior Cert French: 'Very tough' listening section

Reading comprehensions were ‘quite mean’ in parts

Junior Cert students found the listening comprehension to be the most challenging part of the French exam, teachers and students have said.

Parts of the reading comprehensions on the higher level paper were also difficult with some vocabulary tripping up students.

Elizabeth Hayes Lyne, founder and director of FrenchNotes.ie, and a French teacher at Coláiste Mhichíl in Limerick, said students contacting her on WhatsApp and Instagram found the listening section very tough.

Natasha Lynch, founder of EssentialFrench.ie, also said that Junior Cert students struggled with the listening.


On the final year of the old Junior Cert French exam, Ms Lynch said that parts of the reading comprehensions were “quite mean in parts”.

Most students would not have known the French word for ‘sunflower.’ In one question, the French word ‘note’ may have appeared and, given the context, students may have assumed it meant the same as the word ‘note’ in English; it actually meant ‘grade’,” she said.

“A question on Marie Antointette ‘distancing herself from the court’ would have been very difficult for most candidates.”


Ms Hayes Lyne, however, said that this year’s written exam would not have upset candidates.

“There was a recipe as usual, and the reading comprehensions were not difficult. I had said that a postcard was the most likely option, rather than a note - and there was a postcard. The letter was also straightforward,” she said.

The ordinary level paper was fair with good choice, said Ms Lynch, although she felt that it was “harder” than the higher level paper in parts, with students having to use tenses and descriptive language in parts.

“The ordinary level paper was very accessible and fair,” said Ms Hayes Lyne. “Basic vocabulary was being tested throughout. There was a choice between a postcard or a note, and the letter was all about daily life at school and at home.”

French is, by far, the most popular foreign language studied in schools. At Leaving Cert level, an estimated 23,855 students sat the paper, while at Junior Cert level, 31,534 students sat French.

By contrast, 7,867 sat Spanish at Leaving Cert level and 12,302 at Junior Cert level.

Try this at home: - From Junior Cert French, higher level

You are in Montpellier for a match with your team. Write a postcard to your French penpal, Cecile. In your postcard tell her ? when you arrived and how you travelled ? that you play basketball everyday ? that you will go to the market on Saturday to buy presents.