The Junior Certificate French exam for higher-level students contained no surprises for those familiar with papers in previous years.

That was the view of Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI) French spokesperson Jane O’Dwyer.

She thought the exam was very decent and most students would have been quite pleased, particularly with topics like Netflix and others that relate to what happens in their own lives.

Some familiar material like weather came up, and students should have understood the choices of signs to decide which ones to look for to find a hostel dormitory and a tourist office.

Ms O’Dwyer noted the appearance of a question based on statements about students and their horoscopes, a topic which was also used in a Leaving Certificate paper yesterday.

“Whoever set the papers seems to have liked that kind of thing,” she said.

Another theme in common with a Leaving Certificate French question was about part-time jobs.

An item about a new transport system on the River Seine might have been a bit difficult, although students could find answers in the text. However, Ms O’Dwyer thought and it was nice to introduce something sci-fi on the paper like the Sea Bubble, a mix between a boat and a plane.

There were no surprises in the written expression section, that included a note to tell a host they were going into town and a letter to a penpal about returning to school. In both instances, students were examined on a number of different tenses.

Junior Certificate students of Loreto Secondary School, Fermoy, Co Cork, Kacey Dunn, Maisa Borges and Vitoria Souza delighted they finished their French Junior Certificate paper. Picture: Dan Linehan
Junior Certificate students of Loreto Secondary School, Fermoy, Co Cork, Kacey Dunn, Maisa Borges and Vitoria Souza delighted they finished their French Junior Certificate paper. Picture: Dan Linehan

For Junior Certificate students of history, the Reformation was no surprise on both the higher and ordinary level exams, as it is the 500th anniversary.

Teachers’ Union of Ireland education spokesperson David Duffy said higher-level questions on the Renaissance and 20th-century fascism were nice choices in the final section, one of two which count for a significant proportion of marks.

ASTI history spokesperson Philip Irwin said the wide breadth of the course was illustrated in higher level exam by picture questions on everything from the Newgrange passage tomb to Nazi youth. However, the absence of questions on the age or exploration except in the short questions section will have disappointed many, he said.

More surprising might have been the fact that no questions on the age or revolutions appeared, leaving no scope for those who were well studied on 1798, or the American or French revolutions. Mr Irwin said it was good to see a focus on the role of women in history in a Reformation question about John Calvin, although students might have preferred to be asked about other religious reformers.

At ordinary level, he thought picture questions based on American attitudes to post-Famine Irish immigrants and a First World War recruitment poster featuring Cork-born soldier and bravery medal recipient Michael O’Leary were both interesting. Documents about a Belfast family during the Second World War and John F Kennedy’s Irish heritage were both accessible, and both the political revolutions and exploration topics were examined on this paper.

Mr Duffy said ordinary level students were set a number of fair questions, particularly one about religious reformers in the Reformation.


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