The aim of the French department is to equip pupils with the four communicative skills – reading, writing, speaking and listening. Pupils will become competent in the target language and will have an overall awareness of French culture and lifestyle. All student's in O'Carolan College learn French, in which they complete four forms of assessment: The two classroom-based assessments, the assessment task and the state examination.
The first classroom-based assessment is an oral presentation, where the students demonstrate the skills of oral production and oral interaction. However, other skills may be developed, e.g. reading, writing, listening, basic research. In completing the oral communication activity students may choose from many formats. For this oral communication, the student will focus on an aspect of the french language or culture; or on a simulation of an experience in France; or on a topic or stimulus of interest.
The second classroom-based assessment is a language portfolia, which will include a broad range of items, such as written texts, projects, audio-visual materials, learning logs, student reflections and learning goals. It is recognised that in this context the student’s created texts may be presented in different formats—handwritten, digital, multi-modal, and so on. Students learn a lot from the process of language acquisition when they are taught how to use a portfolio to document and reflect on their learning. They can then develop confidence in interaction and an awareness of the process of language acquisition.
Students undertake a written Assessment Task to be submitted to the State Examinations Commission (SEC) for marking as part of the state-certified examination for French. It is allocated 10% of the marks used to determine the overall grade. The Assessment Task is directly related to the second Classroom-Based Assessment and is offered at a common level and the questions posed will take into account the broad cohort of students taking the assessment. The Assessment Task consists of two stages: firstly, engaging with a piece of stimulus material to prepare for the written task; and secondly, reflecting upon and writing about their experiences as language learners. As the key purpose of the Assessment Task is to encourage student reflection on the process of language learning, the questions and answers will be in the language of schooling.
All incoming pupils take French and the subject is compulsory up to Leaving Certificate level. Pupils from first to sixth year have five periods of French per week, with the exception of Transition Year and Leaving Certificate Applied students, who study French for three classes per week. All Junior Certificate classes are mixed-ability groups while Leaving Certificate students are divided into higher and ordinary level, based on their Junior Certificate results.
Pupils from first to sixth year are prepared to become competent in the four areas of listening/understanding, speaking, reading and writing the French language, with a view to completing the Junior Certificate and Leaving Certificate exams. A range of varied teaching methods and active learning strategies are employed to cater for all abilities in a typical French class. These include individual and group activities, project work, role play, creating displays, realia (authentic French literature and magazines), listening activities, puzzles and games, map reading and the use of ICT such as the internet, PowerPoint, CD-ROMs, DVDs, a digital camera and on-line language games.