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Junior Cert 2022 Irish: All change as teachers say papers toughest for English-medium school students

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It was all change for Junior Cycle Irish this year, with separate papers for students in Irish-medium schools and those in English-medium schools following major syllabus reform. Each syllabus can be studied at higher or ordinary level so there are four papers in all, and it was the candidates who took higher level in English-medium schools who had the most demanding exam, according to teachers.

It was “quite challenging”, said Association of Secondary Teachers’ Ireland (ASTI) subject representative Anne Loughnane, of Pobalscoil Inbhear Scéine, Kenmare, Co Kerry, of the higher level paper in what is known as Teanga 2 (T2). In Irish medium schools, the syllabus for Irish is known as T1 .

There is no choice on any of the new-style papers and there is no predictable format, but teachers commented particularly on the 10 questions, across 15 pages, that T2 higher level candidates had to get through in the two hours.

“They had to work very quickly and had very little time for thinking. “Overall, it was difficult and demanding, especially questions on literature “ said Ms Loughnane.

She thought the reading comprehension, vocabulary and sentences were “somewhat complicated, but the questions were fair enough.

Ms Loughnane said Q5, where the students had to place themselves as a character in a novel they had read, was a challenging twist

She also thought that Q6, where students had to write a newspaper article, and Q8, where they had to select a poem to recite on a special occasion, were difficult. In relation to the tasks set out in both Q8 and Q5, she said “there is little time for thinking and it is very hard to get all of this together”.

Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) subject representative Claire Markey, of Firhouse Community College, Dublin, said the view among teachers to whom she spoke was that the T1 papers, at both higher and ordinary level, were fine, as was the T2 ordinary level paper.

“The T2 higher level paper caused some surprise,” she said.

“There was an issue with some of the words used in questions. I would be concerned that students might have been thrown by the style and words used, which were different in format to the sample paper.”

Ms Markey also questioned the tying-in of a composition piece of work with a piece of literature in one question.

Overall, she said the paper demonstrated the need for more than one sample paper.

Linda Dolan, a teacher at Mercy College, Sligo, and of the Studyclix exams website, agreed that the T2 higher level paper was “undoubtedly challenging, offering unusual styles of questions.

“A diary entry appeared on the úrscéal/novel question, which may have panicked some students. Also, the language in email in the poetry section was very difficult and out of the blue,” she said.

“The dreaded cluastuiscint/listening comprehension offered very manageable questions on topics that students would be familiar with from first year - spórt i mo shaol/sport in my life, ceol/music, tuairisc scoile/scoil report and so on.

“Overall the paper was demanding for the most part and would not have been well received by students, and also by concerned teachers who really did not know what to expect.”

Ms Dolan described the ordinary level paper as “very practical and student friendly”.

Ms Loughnane found the T1 ordinary level challenging in parts, including the Greta Thunberg comprehension text in Q7. She also noted that this question accounted for 80 marks, almost one third of the 270 available for the paper, which started with a listening comprehension. She felt that by the time students reached Q7, of nine questions, “they would be getting quite tired”.

In relation to T1 higher level, Ms Dolan said students with an interest in history would have welcomed the léamhthuiscint/reading comprehension, based on the megalithic burial site in Newgrange, but “the questions asked were quite difficult”. As an example, she referred to (d) where students had to give an example of the "sofaisticiúlacht" (sophistication) of the tomb.

While Ms Dolan described litríocht/literature questions as straightforward, she said the language in (b) of the gearrscannán/short film question may have posed some difficulties as students were asked to rate the acting out of 10.”


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