Friday 23 August 2019

Exam Diary: I was caught in the middle between easy and out-of-reach Irish levels

Leaving Cert student Eboni Burke. Photo: Frank McGrath
Leaving Cert student Eboni Burke. Photo: Frank McGrath

Eboni Burke

It's not a decision I would widely encourage, because it is a gamble, but this student was certainly glad of her last-minute decision to drop levels in Irish.

Paper 2 provided much-needed relief to ordinary level students, and a high amount of anxiety for higher level students.

The two papers were drastically different, with the ordinary level being surprisingly easy, and the higher level paper extremely challenging. This is mainly due to the poetry; the notoriously easy to understand poem 'Géibheann', by Caitlín Maude, delighted ordinary level students, but the infamously challenging 'An Spailpín Fanach' reared its ugly head in higher level.

Also on the paper were two comprehensions, which read quite well - I even found them fascinating to read. The topics covered were the promotion of Irish language in 2018, and a short biography of Caitríona Perry and her time as RTÉ's Washington correspondent.

The comprehensions and the poetry did leave me wondering if the ordinary level paper was too easy, and higher level too challenging.

Is there a need for such a substantial gap between the two levels?

From my years of experience with Gaeilge, I would count myself as rather proficient in the language, but I found it difficult to engage fully with the studied texts, hence the reason I switched levels. I walked out of the exam feeling slightly caught in the middle: finding one level too easy, and one too far out of reach. The same, I believe, goes for other languages, such as French.

All that matters now is that it's over. But the one thing I will take from my education of Irish overall is that it's something I hope to keep learning for the rest of my life. I certainly don't want yesterday to be my last encounter with our national language.

After all, is fearr Gaeilge bhriste ná Béarla cliste!

Irish Independent

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