French Notes


Submitted by’s director Elizabeth Hayes:

Elizabeth Hayes-Lyne is the owner and founder of which is a website that provides material for the Junior Cert & Leaving Cert French Exams. She is the author of the popular Listening & Oral book, Bonne Chance, published by Gill & Macmillan. She is a member of the Teaching Council of Ireland, and is a State Examiner with the State Examinations Commission. Elizabeth is a French teacher in the CBS, Sexton Street, Limerick.


There are 100 Marks and these are divided as follows:


I have gone through the CHIEF EXAMINER’S REPORT 2010, and have referenced the findings, with recommendations of my own.


You will need to have the following mastered in terms of vocabulary:

  1. Have the ability to talk with ease, about your daily life and the world of young people.
  2. Consider difficult social topics & abstract reasoning.
  3. Willing and able to express personal opinion.
  4. Ability to use various idiomatic and elegant expressions.
  5. Be able to use a wide ranging choice of adjectives.
  6. Be able to recognise basic interrogative or question words such as:

french note

  1. Avoid using Super, Sympa or intéressant as adjectives of choice.
  2. Failure to name school subjects, or countries.
  3. Inability to mention a favourite dish other than frites or pizza.
  4. Inability to name items of clothing bought or received as a present.
  5. Limited range of adjectives and verbs.
  6. Failure to recognise words within a question which hint at the correct tense to be used in answering: dernier – last, prochain – next, hier – yesterday, demain – tomorrow.
  7. Irish words used instead of French equivalent: le for avec, mar for car, nó for ou, a lán for beaucoup.


Communication is a student’s ability to maintain a conversation in a natural flowing & comprehensible manner.

  1. In order to score highly here, candidates must demonstrate an ability to sustain a natural, flowing & comprehensible conversation in French over 12 minutes.
  2. Conversation deals with: basic details of candidate’s day-to-day life
  3. Expressions of feelings, impressions & opinions
  4. The candidate should have no difficulty in understanding virtually all questions
  5. Give a spontaneous & authentic reply.
  6. The candidate should rarely reject any topic proffered by the examiner.
  7. There should be NO recourse to long extracts learnt off by heart.
  8. The candidate should be willing to take up the challenge of moving beyond the realm of their prepared topics into other related areas.
  9. French used should be easily understood by a French native with no English.
  10. Good pronunciation is a prerequisite for effective communication.

Failure to achieve high marks in communication was attributed in some way to the following:

  1. Unwillingness or hesitancy of candidate in going beyond what he/she has learnt despite gentle encouragement by the examiner.
  2. Over-reliance of long sections, of learnt-off material.
  3. Tendency to misinterpret the question


Although not compulsory, the document has proven advantageous to students who prepare one.

The examiner may only spend a minute or two on your document, whereas another student might be given 3-4 minutes. This is not a reflection of how you have done, or that your document was worse.  Each candidate is marked on their overall performance.

Do not rely on an ill-prepared document, but give some thought to what YOU would like to speak about.

Remember that you must present your document on paper or a photo as artefacts/objects are not permitted into the exam.

Do not do a document because all your friends are doing one. Do a document, because you have a genuine interest in something, and you will be prepared to speak about it.

Examiners will not ask you purely descriptive questions about a photo or document.

You will be asked why you chose the document, what it means to you etc..

The examiner will show genuine interest, but it is up to you to make it genuinely interesting!

Try and anticipate where the conversation might go. If you have a document about a famous sports star, a tourist attraction, a French writer, a charitable organisation etc…make sure that you research the vocabulary needed to speak about this.

Ask your teacher to make out a list of possible questions, or discuss it at home.

Parents are always a rich source of inspiration & wisdom!

Bonne Chance!