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Leaving Cert French aural ‘harder than usual’

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It was a tale of two halves for Leaving Cert French candidates, with students across both levels reporting difficulties with the Listening Comprehension, but no complaints about the written papers. In the aural, the same recording is used for both levels, but the questions are different.

Siobhan O’Donovan, an Association of Secondary Teachers’ Ireland (ASTI) subject representative, said higher level students had reported the “speed at times was very fast and there seemed to be a lot of extraneous material that they had to sift through to find the response.”

Also speaking about higher level, Corinne Gavenda of The Institute of Education, Dublin , described the aural as “harder than usual” and said “students would have had to pick up very specific words to find their answers.
She said Section A, “usually a relatively easy section, was very challenging”, while in Section B, there were two expressions students may have struggled with.
In Section C, she said the pronunciation of an important word, ‘bricole’, was not very clear and, while Section D was “ok, it was not as easy as in previous years”.

Liz Lyne of frenchnotes.ie and CBS Sexton Street, Limerick agreed the aural was difficult in parts, and would have presented a challenge to the students, across both levels.

“Most of the students who came back with commentary found the listening ‘tricky’ ‘horrendous’ ‘muffled’ in parts,” she said.

Speaking about the written paper, Ms O’Donovan, who teaches at Patrician Academy, Mallow, Co Cork, said it as “very relevant overall” .

She liked that it continued the trend of linking up with material prepared for orals, referring to a question where students had an opportunity to write an email to a friend about the impact of lockdown on keeping fit and sporting activity.

Ms O’Donovan described the Reading Comprehension questions as “very manageable”

Ms Gavenda regarded the higher level paper as “challenging and fair” and “one that required students to think on their feet”.
She said candidates would have “jumped for joy” at the questions on 'do we fully exploit the potential of technology' and the sport related email to a friend.

However other topics such, as “are we doing enough for people with disabilities’ 'travelling and seeing the world' 'you are a musician” and 'why buy brand new, when you can buy second hand' “were slightly more unusual and demanded more independent thinking and personal opinion,” Ms Gavenda said.

Ms Lyne agreed that the question on people with disabilities was not expected and was an unusual one. But on planning a big trip, she said “students had a lot prepared around staycations and could have manipulated their material to suit this question relatively easily”.

Ms Lyne thought that while the theme of a musician and a recording deal would have appealed to a lot of students, it would have precluded those with no interest in music.

Of course , students had plenty of choice and overall, Ms Lyne described the papers as “diverse, with something there for everyone.”

Ms O’Donovan and Ms Lyne described the Ordinary Level paper as “very accessible”.


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