Leaving Cert French: Risk of students ignoring the question asked

Ordinary level paper criticised as too easy as teachers call for reforms


Students who carefully read and answered the questions asked will have been rewarded by the higher-level French papers, teachers have said.

Natasha Lynch, MD of EssentialFrench.ie, said that there is a risk of students answering the question they prepared for rather than responding to what the examiners wanted. “There was a question on rural life in Ireland where, I hope, students didn’t force in vocabulary on the anticipated topic of culture. Similarly, there is a risk that students could have written solely about how much they love social media for a question on fake news.”

Elizabeth Hayes-Lyne, author of Bonne Chance, runs FrenchNotes.ie. She said that it was important for students to read the paper carefully. “There was a question on bad weather where students could have used some vocabulary about the environment, while the email question about a day in September where plans suddenly changed was nice and simple and a good chance to show off knowledge of their tenses. Mobile phones in schools will have given them a chance to show off vocabulary while a question on young European leaders, including Varadkar, was an interesting topic. I was surprised not to see equality arise as a topic on the paper and sport, which has appeared at least 50 per cent of the time over the past decade, was also a no-show.”

Ms Lynch said that the aural comprehension was lovely. “There was nothing awkward and it was very straightforward, with some of my students saying it was the easiest listening comprehension they had heard in years. Even the weaker students were happy with it.”

Meanwhile, 6,650 students sat the ordinary level paper, which Ms Lynch said was far too easy. “The written section was easier than the higher level junior cert when it ought to have presented somewhat of a challenge.

Ms Hayes-Lyne said that the ordinary level diary entry was very straightforward, testing knowledge of tenses. “For a question on why they would like to work in a particular place, students will have been able to draw on their work for the oral exam. A story about a police inspector was the most challenging aspect but it was fair and doable.”

The French exam, which runs for over three hours, is followed by a one-hour break, after which thousands of students then sit a history paper of over three hours. Ms Lynch said that a significant amount of pressure could be lifted by running the aural comprehension earlier in the year. Both teachers said that the marks allocated for the oral component (25 per cent) should rise to 40 per cent, as is the case for Leaving Cert Irish.


La nouvelle génération de jeunes leaders

Emmanuel Macron (40 ans) en France, Leo Varadkar (39 ans) en Irlande, Sebastian Kurz (31 ans) en Autriche et Jüri Ratas (39 ans) en Estonie - il y a une nouvelle génération de jeunes leaders en Europe.

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