Wednesday 13 December 2017

Leaving Cert English Paper One: 'Lively and imaginative... it was all you could ask for'

Education Minister Richard Bruton led the good wishes to the 120,000 students who are starting the State exams today Photo: Getty Images. Picture posed.
Education Minister Richard Bruton led the good wishes to the 120,000 students who are starting the State exams today Photo: Getty Images. Picture posed.
Katherine Donnelly

Katherine Donnelly

It was all you could ask for of an English Language paper, was how teacher Jim Lusby described Leaving Certificate English Higher Level Paper 1.

The teacher from Dublin’s Institute of Education said it was “lively and imaginative” and rewarded candidates for close study of the language.

Simultaneously, it invited them to reach beyond their prepared material into creative expression and exploration, consistent with the paper’s general theme of Journeys,” he said.

In a year that marked the centenary of 1916 and the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, he said the paper was expected to have some historical character and “these expectations were creatively managed by making Journeys, not only historical, but also geographical, intellectual and aeronautical, the general theme.”

Mr Lusby said there was a colourful range of genres in the selection of the texts presented for analysis, which included an extract from Irish writer Sara Baume’s debut novel, a speech by Barack Obama on space exploration, and an extract from a book on Shakespeare’s universal appeal, which established interesting links with the Shakespeare plays set for Paper 2.

“That is a welcome development which goes a little towards integrating the two English papers,” he said.

He described the questions set on these texts as both “more stimulating and more-ranging than in recent years.  In particular, the questions on style drew fairly on a candidate’s knowledge of aspects of genre.”

Mr Lusby was also impressed with Question B, which he described as “more imaginative than in recent years, and also more helpfully detailed in the descriptions of the tasks” , which included a speech announcing the results of a poster competition, a pitch for a film-making competition, and a blog criticising the amounts of public money spent on space travel.

And there was no surprise in the compositions section, with the expected range offered: “Each task was well thought-out, carefully expressed and stimulating,” he said.

Leaving Certificate English Ordinary Level  candidates started the exams with a “friendly, accessible paper that most will have enjoyed tackling, said teacher Jim Lusby of Dublin’s Institute of Education.

He said Paper 1 offered an 'interesting choice' this year, confining the texts offered for comprehension to a single genre of writing, the diary. 

“Since the diary is personal and can take many forms, such as the blog and the video, the genre has particular relevance to contemporary students,“ he said.

Topics covered in the set tasks included travel, history, writing and personal experience, making it a wide-ranging, but accessible examination, said Mr Lusby.

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