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Leaving Cert 2022: Spanish students tested on tenses

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Students sitting the Leaving Cert (Stock image)

Students sitting the Leaving Cert (Stock image)

Students sitting the Leaving Cert (Stock image)

Students were “very pleased” with a “very accessible” Leaving Cert Spanish higher level paper, according to teacher David McArdle.

Another teacher, Begoña de la Fuente said it was a paper where “high achievers had the opportunity to show their knowledge of tenses”.

Not for the first time in the 2022 exams, the highly topical theme of the changing world of work, appeared, this time in one of two comprehension texts. “It is something we have all experienced and it very familiar” said Mr McArdle an Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI) subject representative.

Mr McArdle, of De La Salle College, Dundalk, Co Louth said the three essay/opinion topics in Section B were along the lines of what has appeared in previous years - work is not the most important thing; changes are positive and everything is possible with technology - but queried why the paper asks student to keep their answer to 80-150 words.

Mr McArdle said that, based on experience, it was common practice for teachers to advise students to write up to 200-300 words for this question, and that the matter has been raised with the State Examinations Commission (SEC) over the years. “They need to be writing about 200-300 words. It is something we have asked for a long time, but it hasn’t changed,” he said.

An SEC spokesperson said the expectation is that candidates would write between 80 and 150 words.

“It is possible for candidates to score highly, including achieving full marks, if they write in the indicated range of 80-150 words, once the content is clearly relevant to the question and the language is of a very high standard,” they said.

The spokesperson said that candidates may, if they wished, write more than the 150 words and were not penalised for doing so.

“However, while they might include more content by doing so, they may also lose marks by including irrelevant material and/or by making more language errors,” they added.

As part of the Covid-related adjustments to papers this year, students had to do only one out of four questions in Section C - the dialogue, letter, diary or note.- rather than two out of four .

Mr McArdle thought the letter option about protecting the environment, may have been a “bit tricky”, because student had to cover specified points such as that ’many animal species are in danger of extinction’. He said it was “hard to elaborate on that”. However there was choice in that question, and students could pick five out of eight points to cover

 Ms de la Fuente of The Institute of Education, agreed that it was a “nice, topical paper with no surprises and plenty of choice.

“There was something for all levels on this paper, and students who practised with past papers will be rewarded. High achievers had the opportunity to show their knowledge of tenses,” she said.

In the Section A comprehensions, she said the “vocabulary in both was very accessible and the questions were very doable. Students would also have found the accompanying photographs helped with their understanding of the texts”.

Ms de la Fuente said Section B on comprehension/opinion writing, had “plenty of choice in this section and most students would have found the questions very approachable”.

In contrast to Mr McArdle, she regarded the Section C letter option as “ a very nice topic and everyone would have prepared for this” .

In the dialogue option, about a summer camp in Malaga, she said there was nothing unexpected. “Students will also be happy that there was no subjunctive required. There were a few cases where the imperfect was needed, and this would have been more challenging to some students,” she added.

Ms de la Fuente said students also needed to know their tenses for the diary and note options. The diary entry required past, present, progressive and future tenses.

Mr McArdle described the listening comprehensions at both higher and ordinary level, as “very straightforward” and he had no quibble with the ordinary level paper, about which there were “very positive reports”.


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