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Language is “the infinite use of finite means.” – Wilhelm von Humboldt

Studying English encompasses so much more than the written word – it embraces oracy and comprehension as well as reading and writing skills; it influences our ability to understand and achieve in every other subject on the curriculum; it provides us with practical skills for dealing with life outside of the classroom; and it nurtures the ‘intellectual, imaginative and emotional growth’ of the individual.

Department Members

  • Ms Mc Nicholas

  • Ms Reenan

  • Mr Lyons

  • Ms Johnston

  • Ms Mason

  • Ms E Brennan

  • Ms Corrigan

  • Ms Mc Sorely 

  • Ms M Mc Kenna

Junior Cycle English

English in junior cycle aims to develop students’ knowledge of language and literature, to consolidate and deepen their literacy skills and make them more self-aware as learners.

The specification for Junior Cycle English focuses on the development of language and literacy in and through the three strands: 

  1. Oral Language

  2. Reading

  3. Writing. 

The elements of each of these strands place a focus on communicating, on active engagement with and exploration of a range of texts , and on acquiring and developing an implicit and explicit knowledge of the shape and structures of language.  There is a strong focus on the oral dimension of language, including the vital importance of learning through oral language. This makes the English classroom an active space, a place of ‘classroom talk’ where learners explore language and ideas as much through thinking and talking as through listening and writing. While the learning outcomes associated with each strand are set out separately here, this should not be taken to imply that the strands are to be studied in isolation. The student’s language learning is marked by a fully integrated experience of oral language, reading and writing.

To give further emphasis to the integrated nature of language learning the outcomes for each strand are grouped by reference to three elements :

  • Communicating as a listener, speaker, reader, writer

  • Exploring and using language

  • Understanding the content and structure of language

Students will complete 2 CBAs over the course of Junior Cycle and then an Assessment task in 3rd year based on their CBA 2.

  • CBA 1: Oral Communication 

  • CBA 2: Collection of Student texts

Leaving Certificate English

The Leaving Certificate student is invited to explore the range, variety and power of the English Language and English Literature.

This course aims to create an awareness of how ‘we live in the midst of language’, how the study of language expands our horizons and how literature can challenge our thinking, stimulate our imagination and enrich our lives.

The language course focuses on five different modes of language:

  • The language of information

  • The language of argument

  • The language of persuasion

  • The language of narration

  • The aesthetic use of language.

These modes are discussed and explored in class and the student should become skilled at identifying the different ways in which language works. Students are also taught how to become critical, analytical readers and writers. Writing exercises include Report Writing, Letters, Diary Entries, Newspaper Articles and Composing.


There are two terminal examination papers at Higher and Ordinary Levels.

  • Paper I focuses on language and composition  

  • Paper II focuses on literature. Each paper carries equal marks.

Paper I consists of three questions:

  1. Reading/Comprehending

  2. Writing in different genres (functional writing)

  3. The Composition


Paper II consists of three sections:

  • Section I: The Single text [for example the prescribed Shakespearean play] which is studied in detail.

  • Section II: The Comparative Study. This section of the paper requires students to compare and contrast 2-3 texts under prescribed modes. These texts may be films, plays and/or novels.

  • Section III: Poetry Unseen and Prescribed

Unseen Poetry: This encourages students to apply their existing knowledge and understanding of poetic techniques and styles to a poem that they have not studied/seen before.

Prescribed Poetry:  Higher Level:Teachers select between 30-36 poems from the eight prescribed poets at Higher Level. Four poets will appear on the exam paper at Higher Level (note: changes were made in 2020 and 2021 as students were able to select from a choice of five questions).

Ordinary Level: Twenty or so poems are prescribed at Ordinary Level. Candidates must write on one poet. The texts of three poems are printed on the paper at Ordinary Level. Candidates must write on one poem.

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