Some alarm over slightly off-putting grammar surprise


EXAM DIARY: LEAVING CERT GERMAN:THERE WERE eyebrows raised in German Leaving Certificate circles at a grammar section that was considered more exacting than usual yesterday. The applied grammar questions “caused some alarm” as the section examined previously uncharted territory.

Leaving Cert higher-level students “needed to know their stuff” to fill in some difficult gaps left for prepositions, according to teachers.

“Blanks number 1 and 5 could have been a source of alarm for some students,” said Patrick Kavanagh, subject representative of the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland.

“One student from my school who would be looking for the A had to look long and hard at those. This section was designed to sort out the As, Bs and Cs, I think.”

Other teachers and students remarked on the “completely unexpected” inclusion of an exercise calling on students to move sentences from indirect to direct speech. Teachers expressed concern that students might succeed with the verb but not the subject as they would not have seen an exercise like this on the higher paper before.

“The elements examined in both grammar questions had not appeared in the last 10 years. Students were asked to change five sentences from ‘indirect speech’ to ‘direct speech’; this is a task that students would not have been familiar with,” said Orla Ní Shúilleabháin, German teacher at the Institute of Education.

“A slightly off-putting section and a robust examination of the students’ German language ability,” she added.

The rest of the paper was broadly welcomed, including an interesting reading section on the subject of Mehr-Generationen Häuser – a modern German tradition involving youth club-style initiatives that bring together people of different age groups with common interests.

Almost 7,000 students took German at Leaving Cert level this year. It is the most popular modern language elective after French, with Spanish and Italian trailing by a significant margin.

About 2,000 students took the ordinary-level paper yesterday. The grammar section was considered “very straightforward”.