Leaving Cert French: A ‘muffled, horrendous and tricky’ exam

Disquiet over French aural while written paper is described as ‘challenging’

“Muffled”, “horrendous” and “tricky” were just some student reactions on the Leaving Cert French aural paper, while teachers have said the written section of the exam was challenging and demanded independent thinking.

Elizabeth Hayes-Lynn, founder of FrenchNotes.ie, said that the listening was difficult in parts.

“It would have presented a challenge to students. I was personally very surprised to see that Black Lives Matter did not make it to the paper. However, I had covered the impact of Covid on sport, holidays, health, technology and the environment, so I know that with a bit of manipulation and adaptation, students would have been well able for this paper. The reading was also quite okay, though some did mention that the language was difficult in parts.”

Ms Hayes-Lynn said that her students found the listening section difficult, while Corinne Gavenda, a French teacher at the Institute of Education, agreed that it was harder than usual.

“Students would have had to pick up very specific words to find their answers,” said Ms Gavenda. “Section A, which is usually a relatively easy section, was very challenging this year. Section B was okay but there were two expressions that they may have struggled with. In Section C, the pronunciation of an important word, ‘bricole’, was not very clear. Students would really have had to listen carefully to double check their answer here. Section D was okay, but not as easy as in previous years. The second story, about who and why Peter was surprised, might have proved tricky for some students.”

On the higher-level written exam, Ms Hayes-Lynn said that a question on people with disabilities was not expected, but the question on planning a big trip was welcome, as students had a lot prepared around staycation.

“The question of the impact of Covid on sport was in email format but was a lovely question. Eating well and the various diets, including vegan, organic, and gluten-free, was discussed among myself and a few other teachers as far back as November, and the wording of the question was open-ended,” said Ms Hayes-Lynn. “The language in a piece about a man who became wheelchair-bound following an accident was more complex, but the first reading comprehension, about remote learning, would have been accessible.”

The ordinary level paper was very accessible and students would have had no trouble with it, said Ms Hayes-Lynn. Health, summer holidays, and life in Morocco appeared on the reading section while there were no surprises in the written section.

Try this at home: Leaving Cert French, Higher Level

Vous êtes musicien/musicienne et vous donnez des concerts en ligne. Hier, à la fin du concert, une productrice de musique vous a contacté(e) et a dit qu’elle voulait enregistrer vos chansons. Qu’est-ce que vous notez à ce sujet dans votre journal intime?