Positive reaction to interesting, varied paper


LEAVING CERT FRENCH - HIGHER AND ORDINARY LEVEL:TEACHERS DESCRIBED the Leaving Cert higher-level French paper as “very positive”.

Among the questions was a task that would have stumped many in this day and age – writing a composition explaining why young people in Ireland have many reasons to be happy – but luckily students of higher-level French had plenty of other options open to them.

The essay about the shiny happy Irish youth was part of the well-received written expression section on the paper. “It held great variety for students,” said Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland representative Máire Ní Chiarba, a teacher at Coláiste an Phiarsaigh in Glanmire, Co Cork.

“They felt they could have tackled all the sections even though they didn’t need to.”

“The themes were very straightforward,” agreed Natasha Lynch, director of Essential French Language College, Cork.

“But they were not predicted so learned-off essays would have been impossible to use.”

This tendency is in keeping with Leaving Cert papers of late. Examiners seem to be staying well away from predicted topics (such as the Olympics, for example) in an effort to combat rote learning.

The rest of the section raised topics that made for genuinely interesting opinion-writing. An email from a French friend asking why Irish students study the Irish language provided plenty of scope, as did a discussion topic about whether street protests play an important role in the battle against injustice or bad political decisions.

“The opinion piece mentioning Euro 2012 had an interesting twist as it was not, in fact, about sport but about the huge amount of sports programmes on TV,” Ms Lynch said.

The two reading comprehensions that make up the first part of the paper were “doable”, according to Teachers’ Union of Ireland representative Dellemar Keane, who teaches at Bush Post Primary School, Dundalk, Co Louth.

The first comprehension dealt with the story of a young man living in the suburbs who can’t afford to move out of his parents’ house. “It was very appropriate and very topical,” Ms Ní Chiarba said.

The second comprehension piece is always more literary than the first but it was “very accessible in both text and questions”, according to Ms Keane. “An excellent paper overall,” she added.

“The weaker student would definitely have felt quite intimidated answering this part of the paper,” Ms Lynch said. “It required a lot of manipulation of the text, and the story itself was very complex.”

Some of the vocabulary in the listening section was described by her as “challenging”.

Ordinary-level students sat down to a “very fair” paper, according to teachers. It was full of “well-practised and predictable topics”, Ms Keane said.

Ms Ní Chiarba welcomed the integration of aspects of French culture into the paper, including an article on junior cyclists in the Tour de France.

The written expression offered the usual range of topics, according to Ms Keane. “The paper should have posed no problems for the majority of students,” she added.