Italian (H): An Approachable Paper With The Occasional Challenge

Leaving Certificate Italian (H) Review

Reaction to 2024 Leaving Certificate Italian (Higher Level) by Erika Capello, Italian teacher at The Institute of Education.


  • Something for everyone but some challenges that will allow top scorers to show their capacity. 
  • Some very familiar topics with some unfamiliar vocabulary. 

Students will be happy to see a paper that reflects some of the most practiced ideas and discussion topics. The topics of Pollution and holidaying in Italy are well-studied, with the latter being a key discussion point for the oral, so students will be on familiar ground for most of the exam. However, in order for the paper to be really fair there need to be some challenges. While the topics were familiar there were tricky nuances that might challenge some. For example, the opening reading comprehension was a journalistic passage on Pollution, but with the twist of only being about the sea. Not everyone would be as prepared to discuss the specific topic of “dell’ambiente marino” (the environment of the sea), and so will have been pushed out of their comfort zone. Each paragraph had phrases or ideas with which very few students would be familiar with. In the case of “lavorano in maniera sinergica” students would need to connect the “sinergica” to “synergistic”, which is already a challenging piece of English vocabulary, to properly grasp the specific idea of ‘working together in a synergistic way”. This challenge was balanced by very approachable questions, so students who were task-focused could effectively navigate this section, but that required them to keep calm in a stressful setting. 

Section B opened with an unseen literary passage which will be very familiar, both thematically and in terms of vocabulary. Focusing on a new student in a school, the text relies on very fundamental vocabulary that every student would have learned early on. The second option, the studied text “Marcovaldo”, would be a relief to those who prepared that text. The section was a good representation of the central themes of the text while also being one of the more accessible passages. “Marcovaldo” can be a dauntingly complex work, but this piece was very manageable. The third option was an essay in English, which will have students delighted. Sometimes the questions can be tricky, but the options aligned brilliantly with the moments of nature and city life, central concepts from the text and so there was lots to say. 

Section C’s composition also had some delightful choices. Pollution reappeared in Q1, but with the specification of the sea removed. Students were asked to write on “l’inquinamento in generale” (pollution in general) which, when paired with ample internal choice, meant that everyone could say something and show their skill with the language. Q2 was a guided composition on travelling in Italy and again was well-prepared territory as it overlaps with common oral topics. Even the trickier vocabulary like “perdersi” (to get lost) which is both irregular and reflexive will be recognized from past papers.  

Section 3 Q3 was more challenging than many would have anticipated. The letter prompt asked students to apply for a “tironcinio” (internship) and required them to specify the sector in which they wished to work. However, while this allows space for a strong student to think creatively, weaker students might struggle to adapt to such an open prompt. Normally, professional fields are specified, and the framework of the letter would be stricter but clearer. Option B, the complaint letter, was a typical example of the style but students typically dislike the style. The grammatical requirements (e.g. conditional past) are often off-putting, so students often try to avoid it. However, those who anticipated answering this question and did the necessary practice will be pleased. 

This was a very approachable paper, but the occasional challenge will require students to think carefully and keep a clear head.