Tuesday 12 December 2017

Words' worth

Your brain is like a muscle; the more you use it, the better it gets, writes Naomi Kloss, English and Classical Studies teacher at Yeats College Waterford

The Junior Certificate English exam is made up of two papers, each with various sections that help to foster a love and knowledge of English in the student. In the following pages, I will provide a rundown of the exam, and provide tips on how you can +maximise your points in it.

Section 1: Reading section

Read the brief introduction to the passage and then the questions. This gives you a good indication as to the content of the passage. Then, read the passage to see how many questions you can answer and mark them off. Read the passage again to finalise your answers.

The passage in front of you will adopt a particular style of writing. Sometimes it will mix styles. You need to be clear about what it means. Questions on the Reading Section will be directly related to the text itself. Writers use different styles of writing:

›Factual: Written like a History or Geography book. It displays no emotion and only recites factual information.

›Aesthetic: It is descriptive in nature, vivid and powerfully written.

›Personal: It aims to move the reader. As the word suggests, it uses the first person.

›Persuasive: The style of writing sells you a product or an idea. It is found in the world advertising.

Section 2: Personal writing

Within the personal writing section, you are required to use a range of styles:

ΩNarrative: Short story telling, which is at the heart of English.

ΩDescriptive: Notice the images, similes and metaphors that are used.

ΩDramatic: Creating the suspense and tension of the moment.

ΩArgumentative: Writers use argument to support their own point of view.

ΩPersonal: This draws upon your personal experiences.

ΩHumorous: Generally the writer will exaggerate the case.

Short stories

Michael Murpurgo saw writing as daydreaming. The task is to paint with words rather than paintbrushes. Your strong, memorable characters need to feature on the page against a defined background or setting.

Essentially, it is important to SHOW RATHER THAN TELL THE STORY.

Look at your story from many sensory dimensions; it will come alive for the reader. Give certain objects or aspects of your world emotive and sensory power. Your character smells the vinegar sprinkled on the chips, feels the cold breeze through an open window or hears the slow, monotonous tick of the grandmother's clock in the darkened dining room.

Example: It was a cold February evening. Darkness settled over the small, fishing village. Gone were the shoppers, and the children who played in the garden beyond. Now there was a silence as Lauren, a small fair-haired girl, hurried home. It was a day like any other, except this time, she heard footsteps behind her. A fear gripped her. She quickened her pace. The sound of the footsteps unnerved her. Worse still, she guessed who it might be…..

Section 3: Functional writing

You could be asked to describe a picture, so ask yourself several questions:

ΩWhat is the focal point in the picture? What does your eye draw upon first when you see the picture?

ΩWhat is taking place in the background?

ΩWhat movement has been captured in the scene?

ΩAre there any contrasting images presented?

ΩHow effective is the picture? Why did the photographer take it? What purpose did it serve?

All pictures provide us, the viewers, with a snapshot of a life lived. A photograph is one means of telling a story, illustrating a place or setting, capturing a moment which if not taken might be gone forever.

The speech

Within functional writing, you could also be asked to write a speech. There are a number of steps you should follow:

Step one:Write an introduction. You need to engage the listener. Ask questions?

Step two:Appeal to the listeners' emotions

Step three:Conclusion. You need to bring all your ideas to a conclusion.

Example one: Fellow students, I would like to talk to you today on a topic which is very close to my heart. Every day an animal is lost, stolen or pitifully thrown out. On one bright day in early March, one Labrador pup was found in a dark hole, the other was running wildly across a vast wilderness. Such was the challenge that greeted the dog rescue team. In a derelict house a litter of pups were discovered in a poor and shabby condition disregarded by their owner. What have the animals of this world done to us humans that we should treat them so shabbily?

The report

Report on leisure for young people


TERMS OF REFERENCE: This report was commissioned by the council to examine the availability of facilities for young people in…..

INTRODUCTION: A survey was conducted from representatives of all the schools to examine young people's opinions on leisure facilities in their area.


1.Majority of young people felt that the facilities were


2.40% felt that they were left with little to do in estates.

3.20% said that the council rarely considered the needs of the youth in their area when drawing up plans.


We would like to make the following recommendations:

1.It is necessary to build a youth centre in a convenient location.

2.Greater leisure activities are needed for the young in this country in order to provide an outlet for stress.


In our view, the recommendations above should improve facilities for young people.

Section 4: Media Studies

Media is the central form of communication in our busy and bustling modern world. It includes:




ΩComics and cartoons

ΩRadio and television.


Advertising is a very powerful tool to encourage us to buy a product. It serves a dual purpose by informing us of a product's merits. It is the language of persuasion. Many language techniques are used to encourage us to buy certain products.

Each advertisement has a target audience. In order to sell the advertisement advertisers will use visual as well as linguistic effects. Visual means photographs or illustrations. Linguistic means language techniques.

Language techniques include:

1.Use of positive words

2.Sensationalise the product

3.Use of science to appear to add credence to the product





8.Worry the reader: the use of some dramatic event to show the dangers of being without a product.

Visual effects:

1.Images and photographs arouse interest.

2.The use of colour can immediately draw the attention of a target audience.

3.A famous person is often used in selling certain products.


Broadly, there are two main types of newspapers: a broadsheet and a tabloid newspaper.

A broadsheet newspaper has: a formal style of writing, a variety in the level of reporting. It gives more details on the news stories.

A tabloid newspaper: uses sensational language; has more human interest stories; has less news reports, and places more emphasis on entertainment and celebrity news.

You need to look at the overall presentation in a newspaper. See Diagrams below.

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