Leaving Cert Spanish: Student complain about sound issues in exam

Audio quality ‘mumbled’ and ‘echoey’ with some sections cut-off mid-sentence

Some students in Tuesday’s Leaving Cert exam complained about the audio quality in the Spanish exam. Photograph: Frank Miller

Students have criticised the audio quality of the Leaving Cert Spanish exam as “mumbled” , “echoey” and “difficult to hear”.

The criticism comes just days after sound issues in the French exam were also subject of stinging criticism from some students.

Leaving Cert candidate Ciara McDonnell said students could not hear the tape clearly.

“The Spanish listening was not actually doable. It left out sections and cut-off mid-sentence,” she tweeted.


Kayla Sherry, a fluent Spanish speaker and Leaving Cert student, said the aural was "horrible.

“It was echoey, cut off sentences and the sentences were mumbled,” she tweeted.

Some teachers who complained to the State Examinations Commission said they were told that complaints will be considered by the chief examiner in the context of the overall approach to the marking of the subject.

The higher level Spanish paper was fair and the comprehensions were straightforward and pitched at the right level, according to some teachers.

"Some students may have been surprised by a question requiring them to write about the importance of animals and zoos," said Kay Macken, president of the Association of Teachers of Spanish (ATS). "Few students would have expected this."

Mark Walshe, ASTI subject representative and a teacher at St Finian's Community College in Swords, Co Dublin, said that he found a linked comprehension about the endangered Iberian lynx was particularly interesting. "Many students would have been shown a National Geographic documentary called 'Spain's Last Lynx' during their Junior Cert so it was a surprise to see it featured in the Leaving Cert."

Students were asked to write a note which included two subjunctives. "This was challenging," said Ms Macken.

Mr Walshe said that the dialogue construction question can be one of the tougher parts of the exam but that this year’s task was “not too difficult and did not include a subjunctive.”

"It was encouraging to see a lot of cultural references to South America, including a weather report from Cuba on the aural exam," said Ms Macken.

The ordinary level paper was very straightforward and there was nothing that would throw a student, said Mr Walshe. “The topics were very similar to those on the higher level paper, with questions on an ideal job, a tennis player and a giant panda.”

Try this at home:

- From Leaving Cert Spanish (higher level)

An article in a newspaper says that learning Spanish is not really necessary anymore as most people speak English.

You decide to write a LETTER / EMAIL in SPANISH to the editor of the newspaper. (You may loosely base your letter/email on the points mentioned below, either agreeing or disagreeing with all or some of them. You should make five relevant points and each of these points should be expanded and developed.)

- “ More than four hundred and thirty million people speak Spanish worldwide.”

- “Very few people speak English in South America.

- “ If you speak Spanish, travel is easier.

- “ Many jobs require Spanish.

- “ Schools should encourage students to learn foreign languages.