What does it take to get a H1 in Higher Level Spanish?
Erica Cooper, a past pupil from The Institute of Education who achieved a H1 in Leaving Cert higher level Spanish, tells us how she got top marks.
Know the fundamentals
A strong vocabulary is extremely important as it both enriches your written work and gives you a better chance of understanding the text in the exam paper. I found that learning a few new words a day and noting them daily in a dedicated notebook was a good approach.
Use past papers
Know the format of the exam papers inside out and do as many of them as you can. While practicing past papers, I highlighted words and phrases I didn’t understand and then I looked them up.
Stick to the question
While writing my opinion piece, I constantly re-read the question to ensure that I was not going off track in my answer (this of course applies to all aspects of the exam!).
Practice is crucial. The more you speak, the more comfortable you will be. Be as natural as possible and avoid learning passages off by heart. You don’t need to use perfect, complex Spanish but rather clear coherent language and engagement with the examiner. You are in control of your response, so try to steer it towards your interests, as long as it is relevant to the questions asked.
I thoroughly studied weather vocabulary as this comes up alomost every year! Train your ear by watching films and TV.
Don’t panic and try your best!
Spanish teachers from The Institute of Education share their secrets to success in the oral exam.
Practice practice practice!
- Practice speaking Spanish with a friend from class. Ideally make a day or lunch (with tapas!) when you can only speak Spanish to each other. Chat about your daily routine and try introducing current affairs.
- Prepare responses to common personal questions.
- Avoid memorising scripts.
- Use as many verbs as possible in your response, a minimum of seven verbs in each tense.
- Avoid making the examiner work to assess your ability. For example, if the examiner asks ‘What did you do last weekend?’ don’t merely respond with a single activity. To demonstrate a good grasp of the language and an extensive vocabulary, cover the entire day from getting up in the morning to going to bed at night.
- Link vocabulary with different verbs. Use both regular and irregular verbs for each tense.
- Record the conversations and listen to them during the day instead of your music.