Sunday 20 January 2019

Ordinary Level French

Parlez-vous Français? If not, get to work with our top tips for Ordinary Level French

Students of ordinary level French are examined in oral, aural, written and reading skills.

Students should try to concentrate on sections which earn higher marks.


L’épreuve orale/Oral Exam (80 marks/20pc)

Listening Comprehension (100 marks/25pc)

Compréhension écrite/Reading (160 marks/40pc) — four reading comprehensions (40 marks each).

Production écrite/Written (60 marks/15pc) — two written pieces (30 marks each).


The aural exam at ordinary level is crucial as it is worth 25pc of the exam and carries more marks than the oral exam. Students must work hard on this section and should complete at least one listening exercise every week as part of their revision. Generally the questions are multiple choice and the student has a one in four chance of choosing the correct answer.


> Answer in English.

> Read questions carefully in advance.

> Underline the key words in the question so you know what to listen for when you hear the CD such as: how much . . ?, who . . ?, why . . ?, which month . . ? etc.

> Always guess an answer. Never leave an answer blank.

> Practice is the key. The more you listen to French, the easier the exam will be in June. Remember

Normally, five marks are awarded for every correct answer. Five marks=1.25pc. Every correct answer brings you closer to the grade you want in French.

Key Vocabulary

La crise économique (recession)

Manifester (to demonstrate)

En grève (on strike)

Tuer (to kill)

Blesser (to injure)

La vitesse (speed)

Une enquête (inquiry)

Il a trouvé la mort (he died)

La disparition de (disappearance of )

Un incendie/un feu (fire)

Les secours (emergency services)

La circulation (traffic)

La tempête (storm)

Les averses (showers)

La bruine (drizzle)

La neige (snow)

Un vent fort (strong wind)

L'inondation (flood)

Un orage (storm)

Les manifestations (demonstrations)

At ordinary level, the majority of marks are

allocated to the reading and listening sections.

As a result, recognition of

words is essential and students

should endeavour

to be able to at least

recognise French

words, even if they

may be unsure of

the accurate

spelling of the



The oral exam takes place before the Leaving Certificate, usually around March/April of the academic year. Many students fear the oral exam and often nerves can hinder a student's performance on the day. The best advice to students is to try and relax.

List of topics

Moi-même (myself )

Ma famille (family)

Mes amis (friends)

Mon école (school)

Ma maison (my house)

Mon quartier (my area)

Mes passe-temps (hobbies)

Le week-end (weekend)

L'été dernier (last summer)

L'été prochain (next summer)

L'année prochaine (next year — always have something prepared for this, it is a question that is often asked)

Les petit-boulots (part-time job)

L'argent de poche (pocket money)

La musique/le sport

How to prepare for the Oral Exam

> Revise the three main tenses: present, past and future. If you find it difficult to command all forms of the verb, make sure to know the “je” and “nous” form of each verb.

> Pair up with a school friend and keep practising.

> Learn the following phrase: “Pourriez-vous répéter la question, s'il vous plait.” This is a polite way of asking the examiner to repeat the question.

> Remember: smile and be enthusiastic during the oral!


The reading section is worth 40pc and students must focus on improving their reading skills.

Two of the Comprehensions are answered in English and two in French.

Answer in the same language as the question is set. The Comprehensions are extracts from newspapers, novels and websites.

The only way to prepare is to read as much French as you can over the next remaining months.

General Question Words

Qui — who Pourquoi — why

Comment — how Quand — when

Qu'est-ce que — what Où — where

Quelle(s) — which Quel(s) — which

Combien — how much/many


> Many French words look similar to the English version and this can be of great help when trying to translate a text:

— Words ending in “el” in French generally end in “al” in English. Example-l'individuel.

— By removing the final “r” of a verb in French, we have the English translation. Examples include arriver, persuader and admirer.

> The more words you know, the better you will do in the reading section. Try to keep a notebook of vocabulary and create lists of words which relate to certain topics.


Students must do one writing task from each of two of the options A, B and C.

> In A there is normally a choice between a cloze test (filling in the gaps) and filling in a form/questionnaire.

> In B the student has a choice between a message and a postcard.

> In C the student can choose between a diary entry and a formal letter.

The French exam lasts 2½ hours and this is plenty of time to complete the exam. Many students find they have time to spare; if so, they should complete one extra writing task.

The Cloze Test

If the last word you have left doesn't fit in the gap, go back and make changes. Every word correctly placed is worth three marks.

Sections B and C

Students need to complete past papers and improve their writing skills. Postcards tend to be less challenging than the diary entry or letter and it is possible to predict its content.

Topics to prepare for the postcard


Description of town/city one is visiting Plans for tomorrow eg nous allons . . . References to the beach eg Je vais à la plage chaque jour.

The journey

The scenery/landscape

The food/the nightlife

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