French is the main language studied at junior certificate level. The syllabus in this language is a communicative one organised around the needs, expectations and interests which pupils bring to the foreign language classroom.
The general educational aims of each syllabus include
- contributing to pupils' awareness of language as a system of communication
- giving pupils an awareness of another culture, and thus a more objective perspective on aspects of their own culture
- contributing to the development in pupils of the capacity to engage in fruitful transactions and interactions with others
- through the above, contributing to pupils' overall personal and social development.
The general communicative aims of the syllabus include
- enabling the pupils to cope with the normal classroom use of the target language
- equipping pupils with a competence in the target language, which would enable them to provide themselves with basic necessities.
- furnishing pupils with linguistic skills making it possible for them to pursue aspects of their general interests through use of the target language
- through these aims ensuring that competence in the target language is conducive to the fulfilment of the general educational aims.
The programme content of each language syllabus comprises tasks, activities and exponents. The communicative tasks are divided into two broad categories:
- those involving receptive use of the target language only
- those involving some productive use of the target language.
Within these categories tasks are grouped under headings which point to general activities and themes to which such tasks might relate. They are presented in this way for ease of reference.
A selection of linguistic exponents is indicated for communicative tasks involving productive use of the language. These are included as reference points only also
The syllabus aims to cater for the entire ability range of pupils. Assessment is at two levels, Ordinary level and Higher level. Assessment at both levels is by:
- Aural examination
- Terminal written examination
While the syllabus is the same for both levels, the communicative tasks will be carried out through language use of varying degrees of complexity. All pupils will be expected to execute the same tasks, although Ordinary Level examination candidates may do so in a simpler way.
NCCA is currently conducting a review of languages, including Junior Certificate French, in the post-primary curriculum.