Leaving Cert Spanish: Tenses tested on ‘fair’ paper

Ibiza, Justin Bieber and Instagram crop up in topical, manageable exams

Students faced a test of their Spanish grammar and tenses on a fair but challenging higher-level paper, according to teachers.

Mark Walshe, a teacher at St Finian's community college in Swords, north county Dublin, said that the paper required a lot of attention to detail.

"A dialogue requiring them to write about their return home from Spain tested them on their use of the conditional, subjunctive, past and present tenses as well as requiring them to know a lot of vocabulary around food.

“There was a question on obesity in humans and pets, and this may be vocabulary they are familiar with from their oral exam.”


The questions appeared in the familiar format and there were no big surprises, said Mr Walshe, who is an ASTI representative.

“They had to write a piece on either the importance of travel or why life is an adventure, and this linked back into a comprehension piece that appeared on the paper about a family who travelled the world.”

Kay Macken, vice-president of the Association of Teachers of Spanish in Ireland, said the reactions to the paper were very positive.

“The higher-level students would have been pleased with a selection of challenging but fair comprehensions and two essay titles which were clear and easy to understand.

“The other writing tasks were in line with previous years and well-prepared students were given the opportunity to show what they knew,” she said.


The aural paper was more achievable than in recent years, she said. "It included topics such as Ibiza as a holiday destination, Justin Bieber and Instagram, all appropriate to the Leaving Certificate age group and well balanced."

On the ordinary level paper, Ms Macken said it was very manageable and included comprehensions on South America, Catalonia and the DJ Martin Garrix.

“The writing tasks were in line with the syllabus but might have been challenging for some students as quite a lot of detail was required in the letter and note,” she said.

Mr Walshe said that the paper seemed straightforward although the question on South America may have been very tough for some.

Over 7,000 students sat the Spanish papers this year, compared to more than 24,000 who took French.

While Spanish is growing in popularity, French is more commonly available in schools, largely due to legacy reasons.

Try this at home: Leaving Cert Spanish higher level - Explain in English the following phrases:

(a) “No consigo pegar ojo”

(b) “… no tiene nada que ver con nosotros…”

(c) “… ha llegado el momento de partir”

(Phrases taken from accompanying text in the paper)