What is French?

French as a Leaving Cert 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.

What kind of student might 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.

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%

Leaving Cert Exam Tips

  • The key to doing well is practice and individuality. The more reaction essays you write and the comprehension you read the easier it becomes.
  • Try to get your hands on as many past mock comprehensions as well as doing all the past papers so you are well trained in the format and question types.
  • After each comprehension make sure it is correct using the marking scheme.
  • Any vocabulary you don’t understand should be noted and learned as you will most likely see it again or you will be able to use it in your written work.
  • You should be able to express yourself and talk about different topics so a rich vocabulary is key. Learn five new words every night going to bed and try to recall them in the morning.
  • An extensive knowledge of the different tenses will be needed for all aspects of the French exam. Some people find downloading French cd’s onto their iPod and listening to it regularly is very helpful.
  • When preparing for the aural exam, write out answers to common questions, learn these answers and practise saying them aloud so it comes across as natural as possible.

How important is a Language with regard to college entry?

You need a Continental Language to study some courses in the National University of Ireland and its constituent colleges, UCD, UCC, NUl Galway, NUl Maynooth, St Angela’s College of Home Economics, Royal College of Surgeons, Shannon College of Hotel Management (NCAD will accept Art instead of a Continental Language). You also need a continental language for entry into the Pontifical University Maynooth.

You do not have to have a continental language for entry into:

  • Trinity (Irish acceptable as the second language)
  • University of Limerick (again Irish acceptable as the second language)
  • Dublin City University
  • Dublin City University
  • Dublin Institute of Technology
  • Institutes of Technology unless the course there includes the study of a language

The following courses in NUI Colleges no longer require a Third Language for entry:

  • NUI Maynooth – Primary Teaching, Science, Engineering, Computers, Psychology through Science, Science Education and Product Design.
  • UCD – Veterinary Nursing, Science (with the Exception of Biomedical Health and Life Sciences and Health and Performance Science), Engineering, Computing, Actuarial and Financial Studies, Maths Science and the faculty of Agri-food and the Environment and from 2015 entry Social Science.
  • NUI Galway – Engineering, Information Technology, Science (with the exception of Biotechnology).
  • NUI Cork – Science, Engineering, Architecture, Computer Science and Food Science.
  • Nurse training no longer requires a continental language for entry in any college.

If you have decided not to keep a language ( or maybe you are not doing one ) what will be closed to you?

  • A pass in a ontinental language is essential for the Army Cadets and Air Corps.
  • Fluency in at least one language is essential for Cabin Crew.
  • Pass French or German desirable for hotel receptionist and tourism.


  • Speech Therapy in UCC requires a C in honours in a language other than English.

Dun Laoghaire Institute of Technology

  • A pass in a language other than English for the following courses ( Irish can be that language) – Applied Psychology, Creative Media Technologies, Creative Computing, Multimedia Systems, English Media and Cultural Studies, Business Studies and Arts Management and Business Studies and Entrepreneurship.

Dublin City University

  • Business Studies International, Applied Language and Translation Studies (HC3).
  • Global Business (HC3 in French, German or Spanish depending on Language of the course.


  • Level 8 Honours degrees in International Hospitality Management, Tourism Management, Event Management (OD3 in any language).
  • Level 7 courses in Hospitality Management, Tourism Management and Leisure Management.
  • HC3 in French or Irish for Film and Broadcasting with a language and Journalism with a language.
  • HC3 in a language of course for Languages and International Tourism.
  • HC3 in French for International Business and French.


  • HC1 French for Law and French and HC! German for Law and German.
  • HC1 in French or German or HB3 in Irish for Computer Science and a Language.
  • 1 HB French or German or 2HCs in French and German for European Studies.
  • HC1 in French/German for Business and French/German.
  • HC3 in a language other than English for Business and Russian/Polish.

Courses requiring above the minimum pass requirement of a third language:

  • HB3 in French for Law with French Law option and dor BCL Maitrice.
  • HC3 in French for Commerce International (French).

Dundalk IT

  • OB3/HD3 in French for Computing with French plus for French option in Hospitality Management and Event Management.

NUI Galway
Courses requiring above the minimum language requirement.

  • HB3 French for Commerce (International) with French.
  • HC3 German for Commerce (International) with German.
  • OD2/HD3 in a third language for Biotechnology.

University of Limerick
Courses requiring above the minimum language requirement.

  • HC3 in a Language for European Studies, International Insurance and European Studies, Language and Literature, Business Studies and a Modern Language and International Business.
  • HB3 in a Language for Applied Languages.

It is highly advisable that students spend some time in a country where the target language is spoken. Students who have shown an aptitude in French at Junior Certificate Level are encouraged to continue with it in Leaving Certificate.