French - 'Chez moi' fails to inspire

24th December 2010 at 00:00
Marked improvement in the performance of pupils sitting Higher and Standard grade French examinations

There was a marked improvement in the performance of pupils sitting the Higher and Standard grade French examinations.

The percentage of candidates achieving grades 1, 2 or 3 (66 per cent) was "significantly" higher than in previous years. And at Higher, fewer pupils struggled with the translation passage which last year proved to be a stumbling block for many. At Intermediate 2, the performance of candidates was "very encouraging" and of "a high level".

However, many candidates sitting Intermediate 1 were not prepared for the demands of the exam. On average, with the exception of speaking, candidates were achieving half, or just below half, of the available marks for each component. More than a quarter of candidates sitting Intermediate 1 received a grade D or no award.

At Standard grade pupils were being disadvantaged by "mundane" writing topics such as chez moi, ma famille, and ma routine. More able pupils should be given topics which allowed them to "develop their language and demonstrate their writing skills", said the report.

At Higher, a number of candidates had struggled with the translation last year. This year, the topic of the passage - student debt - was deemed more accessible than last year's topic on homeless people.

Nevertheless, "many candidates continue to perform poorly in the translation", said the report. There was a basic lack of accuracy in translating articles (notreson), subject pronouns (nousilon), singularplural nouns (les choses as something) and verb tenses (imperfect as present tense).

As usual, candidates at all levels were tripped up by "false friends" and misuse of the dictionary. Sometimes this resulted in "dire consequences", with one Higher pupil writing, "Je serai mensonges a la plage".

The dictionary should be used to check accuracy - spelling, genders etc - not to create new sentences.

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