Junior Cert Spanish: Comprehensions pose challenge for students

Some words may not have been familiar to students

The Camino de Santiago appeared in today’s Junior Cert Spanish exan. Photo: iStock

The Camino de Santiago appeared in today’s Junior Cert Spanish exan. Photo: iStock


There were some particularly challenging comprehensions and words on this year’s higher level Spanish paper, which were more suited to Leaving Cert level, teachers have said

“Some of the vocabulary was rather complicated,” said Kay Macken, vice-president of the Association of Spanish Teachers in Ireland.

“Words like huesos, conseguir and zona sin humos were tough, although the writing tasks would have been achievable for students at this level.”

Mark Walshe, ASTI subject representative and a teacher at St Finian’s in Swords, north county Dublin, said that the paper was well-balanced on the whole.

“It required students to demonstrate their knowledge and skills over a broad range of topics. One question, set out in a dialogue format, requires students to know the words related to illness as well as those related to exams,” he said.

Certain parts of the paper were particularly tough, he said.

“Some of the students may have been thrown by the word constipado, which does not mean constipated and therefore may have tripped some of them up. On another comprehension, students were asked about a no-smoking policy in a stadium, but the usual phrase for ‘no smoking’ didn’t appear and students may have struggled here.”

Singer Niall Horan and Pope Francis also featured in questions.

On the aural exam, some questions could have been phrased more clearly, said Ms Macken.

“But the pace was good, the use of native speakers was well chosen and most students were happy overall.”

A question about the animated feature film Ferdinand came up on the ordinary level paper.

A topical question on mental health appeared alongside others on anti-stress toys and the Camino de Santiago walk through northern Spain.

“The paper covered a broad range of what was learned in class,” Mr Walshe said.

Ms Macken said that the ordinary level paper contained varied and interesting comprehensions.

“The writing elements were fair and similar to previous years with no surprises so most students would have been happy.”

Try this at home: Junior Cert Spanish higher level

Q. Write what you would say in Spanish in each of the following cases:

(a) Say that you can’t go to the football match because you have an examination tomorrow.

(b) Ask your friend if she would like to go shopping with you next weekend.

(c) Tell your teacher that you want to go home because you are sick.

(d) Say that you went to Valencia with your Spanish class last year.

(e) Say that you like to wear shorts and t-shirts when the weather is good.