French as a Leaving Certificate subject aims to bring students closer to fluency in the French language, as well as developing a good knowledge of literature, culture, geography, and national history to provide a context for communication. It builds on the knowledge acquired for the Junior Certificate.

Why Study French

  • This subject is a requirement for entry and can be used as a third language into a number of third level courses. See entry requirements.
  • This subject would be useful for those with an interest in studying French in third level or those considering working in French speaking countries.

What kind of Student would French suit?

  • Anyone with an interest in French culture, history, and language.
  • Students who are considering working in France, Canada, or international relations in the future.
  • Students who can already speak French and want easy points.


  • Students who have shown an aptitude in French at Junior Certificate Level are encouraged to continue with it in Leaving Certificate.
  • A third language is a requirement of a number of departments in the NUI colleges — University College Cork (UCC), University College Dublin (UCD), NUI Galway and NUI Maynooth. The phrase, third language, refers to a language other than English and Irish, which, it is presumed, most students already study.
  • Departments in NUI colleges that require students to have a language include or Arts, Human Sciences, Law, Social Science, Commerce, Medicine and Health Sciences and some other degrees. A third language is not required for engineering or agriculture in these colleges.
  • Trinity College Dublin (TCD) and the University of Limerick require students to have one language — either Irish or a modern language, while Dublin City University (DCU) and the Institutes of Technology require students to pass Maths and English or Irish.

Course Overview

Leaving Certificate French aims to develop learners’ communicative skills in French, to develop their strategies for effective language learning and raise their awareness of cultural, social and political diversity.

Assessment is by means of a written examination, and an aural and oral examination at two levels, Ordinary level and Higher level.

Course Content

Course content for Higher and Ordinary levels is similar. However, oral and written skills are particularly important at higher level. A grade ‘C’ at higher level in the Junior Certificate is usually a minimum requirement for higher level French at Leaving Certificate.

Modern languages require students to be proficient in the following skills:

  • Oral/speaking
  • Written
  • Aural/listening
  • Reading

A wide variety of themes are covered, for example:

  • Family
  • School
  • Hobbies
  • Sport
  • Current affairs
Grammar and Cultural Awareness are essential elements of these courses.

Exam Structure

Mark Allocation for L.C. French

Section                                      Higher Level         Ordinary Level

  • Speaking                                    25%                        20%
  • Listening Comprehension       20%                        25%
  • Reading Comprehension        30%                        40%
  • Writing                                      25%                        15%

The Oral Exam

This takes place in March/April of 6th year. 13 mins – French
French Interview with examiner; students may prepare a document

Aural/Listening Exam

(40 mins) This exam takes place after the written examination in June. It involves listening to a variety of dialogues and news items in the target language and then answering in English.

Written Exam

(2 ½ hours) Reading Comprehension is worth 30% of total exam at Higher Level and 40% at Ordinary Level. There are literary and journalistic passages. For Higher Level the written section involves formal and informal letters, diary entry, message/fax/email, expressing an opinion, and personalised writing.

Career Possibilities

Specific careers in which French would be of benefit include:

  • Teaching
  • Translation
  • Interpreting
  • Journalism
  • Media