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Early tips to enhance your learning for the French Leaving Certificate examination and help you I.M.P.R.O.V.E
Increase your chances of getting good grades in French by learning your notes and practising them REGULARLY over the year. In order to gradually develop your listening skills, try to listen to past aural papers and French songs frequently, and watch films in French (the Alliance Française de Cork Film Library is a fantastic resource for all our students). And do not miss the Cork French Film Festival in March (2nd-9th)!
Make a check list for working on the written expression in French. Looking at the marking schemes is important to know what is expected from you. For instance, when writing a “reaction” type of essay, you could use the following check list:
Practise finding arguments on any topic in French. When you are short of ideas, try thinking of causes/consequences/solutions or positive aspects/negative aspects. For example, if you consider the theme of pollution:
Rehearse your oral notes OUT LOUD. You need to get physically and progressively used to pronouncing those French sounds that do not exist or are different in English, such as “r”, “u”, “eu”, “an”, “un”, “on”… Remember that pronunciation is not just worth 20 marks in the oral scheme, it also has an impact on the 3 other elements of your performance: your structures (pronouncing a silent ending could turn a present tense into the infinitive), vocabulary (the examiner might not recognize some words if you distort their sounds) and of course communication.
Organize your notes: separate your oral vocabulary from your notes for the written exam. Know what is where and divide your sheets into clearly labelled folders. This helps you visualize what must be learnt.
Verify your knowledge of French verbs focusing on the “je” and “ils” forms, as these are most useful for the oral exam and the written expression. In the oral test, apart from using “il” and “elle” in the description of your family, you are more likely to say “je” most the time. In the written exam, for an essay on an abstract theme, you will need to talk about other people in society, not just yourself: THEY drive too fast, THEY take drugs, PEOPLE eat too much junk food, etc.
Expand your vocabulary by regularly testing yourself or asking someone else to test you. Also, creating theme charts will help those of you with a visual memory remember key phrases. For example:
Best of luck to all Leaving Certificate students!
Valérie (BA, higher diploma, Maîtrise/Master 1, Master 2) was appointed by the State Examinations Commission as a Leaving Certificate oral examiner on several occasions. She has recently published part of her research on second language acquisition in the peer-reviewed journal Les Langues modernes and has presented a paper on the current importance of the French language in Ireland at the IIèmes Assises du français conference organized by the University of Algarve and the APEF in December 2014.