What's the format of the Leaving Cert. French exam?
The exam comprises three sections:
How long is the exam?
How many marks is each section worth?
The oral exam is worth 100 marks - or 25% of the total. The written paper is worth 220 marks - 55% of the total. The aural test is worth 80 marks - 20% of the total. Total marks 400.
Should I go to France in the summer?
Of course. It's the best way to improve your spoken French. There are lots of options available: exchanges, college residential courses, sports activities courses - there's something for everyone. There are even residential courses here in Ireland.
Does the oral examiner know if I'm doing Higher or Ordinary Level?
No. Only the Department of Education and Skills has that information.
Do we have to read novels for the exam?
No. There are no prescribed literary texts. However, it is a good idea to try reading some literature in addition to the easily available online newspapers. The vocabulary and sentence structure tend to be more difficult, so they're a good way to improve your French.
How do I improve my French?
By reading, writing, listening and speaking.
In addition to all the work that's covered in class, you have to decide to do a certain amount of work on your own: use the internet to read about things you're interested in; use your iPod to podcast French programmes; listen to French music; there are always some native French speakers knocking about the College who wouldn't mind talking to you. Try talking to yourself in French in the privacy of your own room or even as you're walking up Booterstown Avenue. Why not write a short piece for Grapevine or The Wine Dark Sea?
I don't know my verbs. What should I do?
You just have to sit down and learn them. There are no short cuts, I'm afraid. Take one verb and one tense at a time. After two or three weeks you'll be an expert.
Should I learn loads of stuff off by heart for the oral?
No. The object of the exercise is to have a real conversation with the examiner. Know your vocabulary, learn a few idioms or expressions, be prepared to talk about the usual range of topics but do not learn lengthy paragraphs off by heart. If you attempt to parrot material in the exam, the examiner will stop you and question you closely to make sure you've understood exactly what you've said.