Tuesday 16 July 2019

Leaving Cert German: Hairy question may have shaved some points from higher students' results

(Stock picture)
(Stock picture)
Laura Lynott

Laura Lynott

A HAIRY question may have shaved some points from Leaving Cert higher students’ German papers today.

One of the questions asked students about a beard competition but according to German teacher at Skerries Community College in Skerries, north county Dublin, Pamela Conway, the question may have been too testing in the higher paper.

“My students were all very happy with the paper, it was very acceptable but there was a challenging question on the higher paper,” Ms Conway said.

“The listening section, in particular, was difficult in some sections. It referred to a beard championships question and some of the higher students may have missed the word for ‘beard’.

“On the ordinary paper it was specified this was about a beard competition but on the higher paper students may have missed that word. It wasn’t spelled out what this was for them.

“But in general the kids gave me a thumbs up on the higher and ordinary paper.”

Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI) subject representative, Ms Conway, said it was “really important” the questions on the German paper “engaged” the children and eased them into the work.

“There was a question on Austrian gay marriage, so that was really topical and there was another on computer addiction.

“There was another question in the second text on a student who travelled the world on €50 and I’m sure a lot of the students enjoyed that.

“He talks about learning languages and meeting friends and one of his jobs was digging for gold while hitching around the world.

“In the end, he met his wife and made wedding rings dug out of gold. I really think the higher students would have been into that question because it really provided freedom to write.

“They had to discuss pictures, questions, articles about travelling the world and say what they’d do on their own travels.”

There was also a question on buying new and second hand clothing and Ms Conway felt this was another important topic “in our day of trying to reduce and reuse to be environmentally friendly.”

But questions on cyber hacking and what to do if personal data was stolen, would have also really tested students, though the teacher felt most of her students would have been able to grasp the majority of the questions.

Some Junior Cert students said they’d been confused on their German paper, Ms Conway said.

“The students said there was a sticky question on the listening section where they struggled with it, thinking it was Swiss German but it wasn’t and I don’t know what the trouble was,” she said.

“That was on the higher paper. Other than that they felt the paper was acceptable.”

The junior cert pupils would have been grateful no doubt to gain just a little escapism in one of their questions, reminding them the end of their exams were very near.

“There was a section about where we go on holiday and what are our plans for the weekend, so that should have been really accessible and there was even a question about the last day of school.

“One or two still have exams but for many of them today, this is their last exam, so that was very appropriate.”

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