Leaving Cert Irish paper 1: Broad welcome for Irish papers

First of two papers described as fair, accessible and approachable by teachers

Leaving Cert students and teachers broadly welcomed the first of the two higher and ordinary level Irish papers, describing them as fair, accessible and approachable. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw/The Irish Times.

Leaving Cert students and teachers broadly welcomed the first of the two higher and ordinary level Irish papers, describing them as fair, accessible and approachable. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw/The Irish Times.

 

Leaving Cert students and teachers broadly welcomed the first of the two higher and ordinary level Irish papers, describing them as fair, accessible and approachable.

Emer McTernan, Studyclix.ie expert and a teacher at Mercy College, Co Sligo, said students had a mixed reaction to the listening comprehension section.

“Many students felt it was more challenging than what has featured in recent years with one student describing it as ‘trickier than other past papers’.”

Dr Michael Casey, an Irish teacher at the Institute of Education, said the paper was student-centred, but the listening comprehension was an exam of two halves.

“On one level we had a lot of familiar vocabulary like gaisce, aisteoir, príomhphairt and foilsíodh - words that students would recognise from Paper 2,” he said.

“We had familiar place names, job applications and dates- all the usual trappings to be found here. On the other hand, there was some challenging vocabulary and phrases, which allowed students to push boundaries and demonstrate their language skills.”

John Gavin, founder of LeavingCertIrish.com, said: “There was a broad and appealing choice of composition titles covering a range of topics relating to the pandemic, health service, remote learning and current affairs.”

Ms McTernan said that essay titles and debates gave the students a chance to discuss Covid-19.

“The absence of a hotly anticipated Covid related title may have initially surprised and disappointed some students but other options such as ‘big problems of our time’ and ‘the life of a young Irish person today’ would have certainly softened the blow, allowing them to draw here on their personal experience of the global pandemic as well as other related issues,” she said.

On the ordinary level paper, Mr Gavin said the composition titles offered a fair choice. “But it was surprising that one of the letter/email options related to students spending a weekend at a music festival, given that this is something none of the class of 2021 have experienced for a long time!”

The ordinary level listening comprehension question had a few tricky verbs, Mr Gavin said.

“While the questions were not insurmountable overall, it was surprising that this was used as an examination tactic at ordinary level, given that the higher level students didn’t face such verb related challenges.”

Irish has proven to be the least popular Leaving Cert exam, with just 58 per cent of students choosing to sit it and the rest opting for accredited grades only.

By contrast, 81 per cent sat English, 84 per cent sat maths and 96 per cent will sit applied maths.

Mr Gavin said that most higher level Irish students ultimately sat the paper but that ordinary level students, having missed much of the oral preparation due to school closures, were more inclined towards accredited grades.

Try this at home:

Leaving Cert Irish, higher level

Scríobh AISTE nó ALT NUACHTÁIN / IRISE ar cheann amháin de na hábhair seo. (a) Fadhbanna móra na linne seo. (b) Cearta Daonna. (c) An tAthrú Aeráide. (d) An Ghaeilge agus an cultúr Gaelach. (e) Buntáistí agus míbhuntáistí na teicneolaíochta.