‘This above all: to thine own self be true’ – William Shakespeare, Hamlet

Junior Cert English

Subject Overview

The general aim of teaching English at Junior Cycle is to reinforce and continue the work of the primary school in nurturing the intellectual, imaginative and emotional growth of each student by developing his/her personal proficiency in the arts and skills of language. This personal proficiency involves three dynamically interrelated elements: personal literacy, social literacy and cultural literacy. The interdependence of these elements is the essential foundation for the successful teaching of English in the Junior Cycle.



Teachers are free to choose their own texts and materials to achieve the objectives of the programme, to ensure that learners are enabled to achieve the learning outcomes appropriate to the general aims of the syllabus. In their choice, teachers are expected to choose materials from a wide range of literary genres along with other print and media material. At Higher level, some acquaintance with pre-contemporary literature (pre-1900) and the study of one unit based on a Shakespeare text would normally be expected.

Teaching of language and literature should not be separate from one another. There should be a wholeness or unity to the student’s language experiences, so that language learning (e.g. spelling, grammar, punctuation, and so on) should happen as a natural part of the student’s encounters with the whole range of texts suggested above.



Assessment is by means of a written examination at three levels:

  • – Foundation
  • – Ordinary
  • – Higher

The papers consist of a variety of questions which include responding to unseen material. There are no prescribed texts for examination.


Leaving Cert English

Subject Overview

Building on the aims of English in junior cycle, the programme in senior cycle aims to develop in students:

A mature and critical literacy to prepare them for the responsibilities and challenges of adult life in all contexts;
A respect and appreciation for language used accurately and appropriately and a competence in a wide range of language skills both oral and written;

An awareness of the value of literature in its diverse forms for enriching their perceptions, for enhancing their sense of cultural identity, and for creating experiences of aesthetic pleasure.



The syllabus is organised around the two general domains of comprehending and composing. Within these two domains students will be actively engaged in using language classified under five general headings

  • – The language of information
  • – The language of argument
  • – The language of persuasion
  • – The language of narration
  • – The aesthetic use of language

In addition, a range of literary texts is prescribed for study. Students must choose a single text for close study, three or more texts to form a comparative study, and they must follow a course in poetry as set out in the list of prescribed texts.



Assessment is by means of a written examination at two levels:

  • – Ordinary
  • – Higher

There are two papers at each level. Paper I consists of a number of thematically linked unseen texts leading to a range of comprehending and composing tasks. Paper II consists of a range of questions on the prescribed literary texts and on an unseen poem.


English Department Staff

Ciara Crosbie
Niall Kenny
Ciara Flynn
Megan Oilver
Shane Moloney ( Dept Head)
Gerard O’Sullivan
Bronwyn Patton
Jennifer Bourke


Criteria for Higher Level at Senior Cycle (Click here)

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