My son is anxious about the Leaving Cert Irish orals. Any last minute advice?

It is essential to know the structure and marking scheme of the test in advance

My son is due to sit his Irish orals over Easter and he is feeling anxious. We originally intended to send him to an Irish language summer school in the Gaeltacht, but Covid-19 put paid to that. Could you provide us with any pointers to assist him in his preparations?

Immersing yourself in the language is one of the best ways to prepare for the orals, as well as familiarising yourself with the structure of the assessment.

For example, try tuning into Irish language media on radio and television over the coming weeks. Éanna Ó Caollaí also has an excellent Irish language section in The Irish Times -Tuarascáil - on Mondays . The "foclóir" section, in particular, is a good way to expand your vocabulary.

In relation to the exam itself the oral, or béaltriail, is worth 40 per cent of the overall Irish exam (240 out of 600 marks).

The orals will be held during the first week of the Easter holidays and your son will be given a specific day/time slot. The entire process will last approximately 15 minutes.

There are four sections to the oral exam:

Fáiltiú (One minute): Five basic questions, as a warm-up exercise. Ainm, aois, dáta breithe, áit chónaithe (give full address, not just area), uimhir scrúduithe. (Five marks)

Filíocht (Two minutes): Read one of the five prescribed poems, nominated by the examiner. Marks are awarded for fluidity/fluency of reading, while showing an understanding of what you are reading. You should record them and listen to them daily. There are more marks for reading it as part of the oral than for answering questions on them in the written exam itself. (35 marks)

Comhrá (Seven-eight minutes): There will be general conversation about the student, family, school, subjects, hobbies, next year, etc. Topics will broaden out to cover current issues/topics of interest. However, the student can "lead" the conversation towards specific topics if they pre-plan it.

No marks are lost for not having knowledge of a particular topic; simply tell the examiner that: “Tá brón orm, ach táim gafa leis na scrúduithe faoi láthair agus níl morán eolais agam faoi sin, ach....”

The trick here is to divert towards something you do wish to talk about. Remember this is a conversation, not a general knowledge quiz! (120 marks)

Sraith pictiúr (Three-four minutes): This year students must prepare 10 of the 20 prescribed sraith. Students can tell the story in the past or present tense. The student should have three questions ready to ask the examiner about the sraith. Be clever by having three questions that can be used for all the sraith. Then the examiner will ask the student three straightforward questions about the sraith. The student asks their questions first.

There are 70 marks for telling the story and 10 marks for asking/answering the questions. Try recording the sraith this week and listen to them daily. This will pay huge dividends. (80 marks)