Modern Languages is a compulsory subject at Carndonagh Community School. All students have a choice to study either French or Spanish. French is a subject taken by pupils up to the end of Transition Year and becomes optional in 4th and 5th years to Leaving Certificate level. However, all students are encouraged to keep up the apprenticeship of a modern foreign language until leaving cert in order to broaden their prospects at third-level.

Strong emphasis is placed on communicative skills and classes are generally conducted through the medium of the target language. Teachers of French make great effort to hone all four language skills; listening, speaking, reading and writing in preparation for Junior and Leaving Certificate examinations.

Students are also provided the opportunity to spend a week in France on the annual French Exchange which is organised by Mr. Spencer. The exchange takes place with Lycée Saint-Charles in Saint-Brieuc, Brittany. Students first spend a cultural weekend in Paris visiting all the sights of the famous capital and then travel by high speed train to Saint-Brieuc where they spend 5 nights staying with their host family. During the week the students are totally immersed in the French language as they take part in French lessons as well as cultural tours. The exchange is open to Transition Year and 4th Year students and the trip usually takes place every May and it is a great opportunity for students to practise their language skills and to gain first-hand experience of French life. The exchange brings the French curriculum to life as students can actually practice, real life skills that they learned during their Junior Cert years such as asking for directions, ordering in a restaurant, needing something from a pharmacy etc.

Mission Statement

The French Department is committed to the academic, social and personal development of the students, but also to help all students of all abilities to reach their own potential, regardless of standard. In insisting on high standards, our intention is not merely ‘academic’ or to have complete fluent French speakers by the end of Leaving Cert, but rather is aimed at assisting the students to develop real life skills such as their personality and communication abilities in a much broader sense and to enjoy learning.

Through the apprenticeship of French language, the French Department endeavours to develop the students’ awareness of France and its distinctive culture and thereby making students more aware of the diversity of cultures beyond our own shores and increasingly within Ireland itself.

French being a language which is spoken world-wide emphasises the wider world, albeit through an emphasis on one language. In the context of the European Union, it has practical as well as cultural significance-working and spending holidays in French-speaking countries. France is a European economic power with a lot of commercial ties to Ireland. Former students of French at Carndonagh Community have gone onto employment with businesses in France as well as Ireland. French coupled with another Arts Degree is an impressive and practical qualification to have after third level which provides countless opportunities.

French Department Team

§ Mr. Mark Spencer (Dept. Coordinator 2015-16)

§ Ms Nabla McGeehin

§ Mrs. Marie-Therese Doherty

§ Mrs. Yvonne O’Brien 

So Why Learn French????

1. A World Language

More than 200 million people speak French on the five continents. The Francophonie,

the international organisation of French-speaking countries, comprises 68 states and governments. French is the second most widely learned foreign language after English, and the ninth most widely spoken language in the world.

French is also the only language, alongside English, that is taught in every country in the world. France operates the biggest international network of cultural institutes, which run French-language courses for more than 750,000 learners.

French was previously known as the diplomatic language meaning that governments who did not speak the same language would've negotiated through the medium of French! We also use a lot of French in our everyday language. The International distress call "May-Day" is actually "M'Aidez", French for "Help Me"! When you get a wedding invitation you are asked today RSVP or "Répondez S'il Vous Plait" ( Please Reply). When people refer to their maiden names we can hear the phrase Née which is French for "was born". People often experience the feeling of Déja-Vu which is another French term meaning "Already Seen". In the work place employees often work for "days in loo" which is a term coming from French, "Au Lieu de" meaning "instead of". Telling someone that you are "En Route" is actually French for "On the way". So we are surrounded by and already making use of the French language without knowing it! See how many more you can find.

2. A language for the job market!

An ability to speak French and English is an advantage on the international job market. A knowledge of French opens the doors of French companies in France and other French-speaking parts of the world (Canada, Switzerland, Belgium, and North and sub-Saharan Africa). As the world’s fifth biggest economy and number-three destination for foreign investment, France is a key economic partner.

3. The language of culture

French is the international language of cooking, fashion, theatre, the visual arts, dance and architecture. A knowledge of French offers access to great works of literature, as well as films and songs, in the original French. French is the language of Victor Hugo, Molière, Léopold Sendar Senghor, Edith Piaf, Jean-Paul Sartre, Alain Delon and Zinedine Zidane.

4. A language for travel

France is the world’s number-one tourist destination and attracts more than 70 million visitors a year. A little French makes it so much more enjoyable to visit Paris and all the regions of France (from the mild climes of the Cote d’Azur to the snow-capped peaks of the Alps via the rugged coastline of Brittany) and offers insights into French culture, mentality and way of life. French also comes in handy when travelling to Africa, Switzerland, Canada, Monaco, the Seychelles and other places.

5. A language for higher education

Speaking French opens up study opportunities at renowned French universities and business schools, ranked among the top higher education institutions in Europe and the world. Students with a good level of French are eligible for French government scholarships to enrol in postgraduate courses in France in any discipline and qualify for internationally recognised French degrees.

6. The other language of international relations

French is both a working language and an official language of the United Nations, the European Union, UNESCO, NATO, the International Olympic Committee, the International Red Cross and international courts. French is the language of the three cities where the EU institutions are headquartered: Strasbourg, Brussels and Luxembourg.

7. A language that opens up the world

After English, French is the second most used language on the Internet, ahead of Spanish. An ability to understand French offers an alternative view of the world through communication with French speakers from all the continents and news from the leading French-language international media (TV5, France 24 and Radio France Internationale).

8. A language that is fun to learn

French is an easy language to learn. There are many methods on the market that make learning French enjoyable for children and adults alike. It does not take long to reach a level where you can communicate in French.

9. A language for learning other languages

French is a good base for learning other languages, especially Romance languages (Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and Romanian) as well as English, since fifty per cent of current English vocabulary is derived from French.

10. The language of love and reason

First and foremost, learning French is the pleasure of learning a beautiful, rich, melodious language, often called the language of love. French is also an analytical language that structures thought and develops critical thinking, which is a valuable skill for discussions and negotiations.


Do Employers value Languages?

According to a new European survey on graduate employability it seems that employers, when it comes to graduate recruitment, value what is known as 'soft' skills just as much as sector-specific and computer skills. Teamwork, adaptability, communication and language skills are among the characteristics which are most valued by employers who also consider experience as a key asset for employability.

Significant numbers of employers questioned said that they looked for :

· the ability to work well in a team (98%),

· the ability to adapt to new situations (97%),

· communication skills (96%),

· knowledge of foreign languages (67%) 

Junior Certificate French

General communicative aims as per the Department of Education Syllabus:

(a) To enable pupils to cope with the normal classroom use of the target language;

(b) To equip pupils with a competence in the target language which would enable them to provide themselves with basic necessities, to avoid misdemeanours and/or serious embarrassment, and to engage in some degree of social interaction in a country/situation where only the target language was in use;

(c) To furnish pupils with linguistic skills which will make it possible for them to pursue at least some aspects of their general interests through the medium of the target language;

(d) Through (a), (b) and (c) and otherwise, to ensure that pupils’ competence in the target language is such as to be conducive to the fulfilment of the general educational aims specified above.

Breakdown of French Junior Cert Honours Paper (320 marks)

Aural 140 marks    43.75%
Comprehensions 100 marks    31.25%
Written  Expression 80 marks      25%

Breakdown of French Junior Cert Ordinary Paper (320 marks)

Aural 140 marks    43.75%
Comprehensions 120 marks    37.5%
Written  Expression 60 marks      18.75%

Breakdown of Leaving Cert French Honours Paper (400 marks)

Aural 80 marks     20%
Comprehensions 120 marks   30%
Written Expression 100 marks   25%
Oral 100 marks   25%

Breakdown of Leaving Cert French Ordinary Paper (400 marks)

Aural 100 marks    25%
Comprehensions 160 marks    40%
Written Expression 60 marks      15%
Oral 80 marks      20%