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HOW TO FRAME A COHERENT OPINION PIECE FOR THE LEAVING CERT FRENCH EXAM
I have found with many students, that they tend to rely on very limited vocabulary to express themselves. As an examiner for the Leaving Cert Honours paper, I have found the exact same conclusions, opening statements and connecting words in all three written pieces. The Diary entry is obviously a different type of writing, but for the more topical themes, the same formula is generally used. It would be advisable that students learn to use more than one way of making a point. Bearing this in mind, I have put together a few, to illustrate my point.
To begin the piece, you would need to have at least 3 strong opening phrases. Examples of these would be:
Je suis tout à fait d’accord avec cet article. – I am completely in agreement with this article.
Je suis fondamentalement en désaccord avec cette hypothèse – I completely disagree with this proposition.
J’ai des sentiments mitigés concernant cette affirmation. I have mixed feelings about this statement.
Je ne suis ni pour ni contre les idées exprimées ici = I am neither for or against the ideas expressed here.
Je souscris à cette idée – I agree or support this idea
Je ne suis pas de cet avis – I am not of this opinion
Je souscris au raisonnement énoncé – I agree with the reasoning set out
After giving your first point, a lot of students then balance their argument from the opposing side, but use the same phrases again and again. Here are a few different ways of saying but or on the other hand:
Cependant – However
En revanche – In contrast
Toutefois – However
Néanmoins il faut bien comprendre que – Nevertheless we must understand that…
Il est cependant probable que – It is however probable that…
Remember that you are given a guide of between 75 words and 90 words. Examiners don’t mind if you go over the word count, but they don’t appreciate reams of information either. I would always advise students to make their points with clarity, and constantly refer to the question being asked. In this way, they stick to the crux of the question, and have a lesser chance of losing marks for irrelevant material. Let’s imagine that you were asked to write about the use of tablets in class: Make your point which agrees or disagrees with their use, balance your argument with an opposing viewpoint, then tidy it up with your own personal opinion, which may highlight your opposition or support of their use. I urge students to give a personal response to the questions being asked. The examiners know that you are aged between 16 and 19 so there really is no expectation that you would be completely aware of statistical evidence to support your answer. What the examiner does want to see, however, is that you have a valid opinion, and that you have the requisite French to express this.
The following are expressions you can use to introduce the personal component to your answer:
Pour ma part – personally speaking
Personnellement – personally
À titre personel – personally
Je dois dire que, pour ma part – I have to say that personally..
Sur le plan personnel = At a personal level
Finally, you will need to tell your reader that you are concluding your argument or opinion piece. The following might be considered.
Pour résumer – to conclude
Pour conclure – To conclude
En conclusion – In conclusion
En un mot et pour conclure – In short, to conclude
Pour terminer – To conclude
An alternative expression would be to use “All things considered”
Tout compte fait – All things considered
Tout bien considéré = All things considered
Toutes choses étant prises en consideration – All things considered
En prenant tous ces éléments en compte – All things considered
De toute évidence – All things considered.
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