These courses enable learners to gain recognition for the achievement of considerable knowledge in a range of subject areas, as for example in the Leaving Certificate and one-year Post Leaving Certificate courses.
Courses may be academic or practical in focus, and awards that are recognised by the National Framework of Qualifications may lead to progression opportunities higher up in the framework.
The majority of people with certificates at this level are well prepared for occupations that involve using their knowledge and skills to help others. Examples include office secretary, customer service representatives, special needs assistant, retail salespersons and childcare workers.
At Leaving Cert level, the English course aims to develop:
Why Study English
What kind of student would English suit?
It is recommended that a student has achieved at least a grade (C) at Junior Certificate higher level, to continue into higher-level Leaving Certificate English. Other cautionary notes that parents should be aware of include:
English is a core subject and is compulsory in all schools.
The exams at both higher and ordinary level require students to sit two papers. Junior Certificate results are often a good indication of what level a student should choose for Senior Cycle English. A large number of students take English at higher level but you should not underestimate the amount of work required to obtain a high grade.
Students are required to study the following five designated areas of language in a wide variety of contexts, functions and styles.
1. The Language of Information.
2. The Language of Argument.
3. The Language of Persuasion.
4. The Language of Narration.
5. The Aesthetic use of Language.
Compulsory elements: At higher level, a Shakespearean Play must be one of the texts chosen for study on its own or as an element of the Comparative study.
Optional Elements: At ordinary level, the study of a Shakespearean play is optional.
Paper I Higher and Ordinary Level - 170 mins. - 200 marks.
Section I Three texts - one which is visual - are presented to students on a general theme. Two sets of questions, an A and a B follow each text. Candidates must answer a question A on one text and a question B on a different text. (100 marks)
Section II (Composing) Candidates must write an extended composition in a specific genre of language from a list of seven choices. (100 marks)
Paper II Higher and Ordinary Level - 200 mins. - 200 marks.
Section I The Single Text (60 marks)
Section II The Comparative study (70 marks)
Section III Poetry (70 marks)
(i) Unseen poem (20 marks)
(ii) Prescribed poetry (50 marks)
(i) Unseen poem (20 marks)
(ii) Four poems will be printed on the exam paper and students must answer questions on one of the four. (50 marks)
Composing: (100 marks) Long before the examination, identify the type of composition (short story, personal essay, discussion or descriptive essay) that is likely to gain you the highest grades and practise this. Bear in mind that the personal essay can be written as a narrative or a discussion, so it provides an alternative back up for both the short story and the discussion essay.
Short story: A short story is an exploration of a personality caught in a defining situation, indicating that the life of a character must be shown, through appearance, behaviour, and voice, both internal and external. The phrase "defining situation" means a situation that exposes the essence of that personality. It is useful to reduce the description of your central character to a single word so you know how the character looks, acts and speaks. Read as many short stories as possible to understand how the very best material is written.
Personal essay: The best preparation for the personal essay is to write short, colourful paragraphs that express your own personality. If approaching the personal essay as a narrative - the description of you caught in a defining situation, read the tips on the short story above. Be mindful that correctors are directed to look for reflective elements that capture your thoughts, feelings and judgments and interpretations on your experiences not just descriptions of things that happened to you.
Discussion essay: The key to a good discussion essay is to reduce the topic you are given to the point you wish to make. Using techniques such as exaggeration for effect, colourful illustrations and rhetorical questions influence a good discussion. It is important to read outside the course, for example the newspapers.
Descriptive essay: The task is to evoke a mood or atmosphere, the technique of settling on a single scene and bringing it alive with expressive and revealing details.
The Single text: (60 marks) Be guided by the question, not by any standard essays that you may have prepared or learned which cannot offer a relevant discussion of an unseen play or novel. Use your opening paragraph to explore the implications of the given quote, your concluding paragraph to assess its merits, whether you wholeheartedly agree or disagree with it or indeed if you have mixed feelings about it.
Comparative study: (70 marks) In answers to questions in this section, students may compare and contrast (address similarities and/or differences) in both the content and style of their chosen texts. The most important thing to remember is to understand clearly your modes of comparison, compare your texts in each paragraph you write and do not summarise your texts, rather refer to key moments to support your points.
Poetry: (70 marks) two sections; unseen and prescribed. In the unseen part your ability to engage with a poem you have not seen before is tested. To do this you need to think about what poetry is and why it is different to prose. Remember poetry is compressed communication, you see it, hear it and feel it. While you need to learn about a poet's work and life from the writings of others in the prescribed section, do not underestimate your own honest responses to gain top grades. Be guided by the question not by the responses you have prepared. Discuss both the themes and techniques of your chosen poet, the characteristic images and expressions as well as the recurring experiences and emotions. Demonstrate a good understanding of the poem by providing quotes.
Other tips for English exam:
English is valuable for a wide careers in a wide range of areas including: Advertising, Broadcasting, Journalism, Law, Librarianship, Politics, Speech Therapy, Teaching, Sales, Linguistics, Interpretation and Translation to name just a few.
Universities generally require a student to pass English. However, in some cases a pass in English or Irish is accepted (e.g. for most courses in the Institutes of Technology).
This subject is essential for entry to some Third Level courses. Click on the link below to view courses that require, or may require this subject for entry:English