Leaving Cert French: Preparing for the Journal Intime

The diary entry (in my opinion) is generally a lovely question. It’s relatively predictable, with 90% of questions asking you to be annoyed. That said, a question appeared a few years ago where you won the lottery- so be prepared!

Firstly, it is essential to have a number of phrases learned off for the question. It is likely that your teacher has already given you these but some are here.

Ensure that you learn off an opening, an ending, five positive emotions and five negative emotions.

Take some time to ensure that you can change the emotions that you have learned off around to suit other people than yourself.

For example, you may have learned off “je suis aux anges” (I am in heaven) but ensuring that you can adapt this to suit other people (for example, “mon ami est aux anges”) will be time well spent. This takes minimal effort and will prepare you to adapt your vocabulary in your answer.

I would also learn off some vocabulary for arguing with people (your friends or your parents) and having no money.

These are particularly useful as they are themes that you can prepare and can often weave into an answer. See here– the question asked for a bad day at work but I also mentioned having no money and my parents.

Step 1: Read the question

Ensure that you fully understand the question and can therefore answer it fully.  Attempting the answer without fully understanding a word in it is not advisable- you will most likely fail to answer the question asked and therefore fail the answer.


Step 2: Make a list of useful vocabulary

Remember, this is not a question on English Paper One. While it may be tempting to create an exciting storyline based on the question given, now is not the time as you most likely lack the essential vocabulary!

Try to make a very simple answer based on the verbs and vocabulary you know.  For example, the 2011 question asks you to discuss a bad day at work. While you are free to use whichever workplace you like as this is not specified (café, restaurant, a shop or a hotel), you must ensure that you actually use some vocabulary that is relevant to the question. You may be able to use some vocabulary from your oral for this (for example mentioning the tasks that you do in work).

Example: La caisse… Les clients… Le gérant

While I wrote that the customers were impolite and that the manager was impatient, you could also switch some of your learned off phrases for emotions and switch these around to suit another person.

For example, you may have learned off “J’ai vu rouge” and you should be able to change this to “le patron a vu rouge.”

If you are struggling to base your vocabulary on the answer you can write the answer in three segments instead- see here. While the answer is an overall positive one I’ve managed to weave in my knowledge of negative emotions by “losing the ticket.”

Ensure that you do not over rely on learned off phrases. The examiner will know a learned off phrases when we sees one! Of course you are expected to (and should) use these phrases, ensure that you do not base your whole answer around them. An overuse of phrases like “I couldn’t believe my eyes” or “I saw red” will only suggest to the examiner that you are unable to conjugate any verbs yourself.

The 2014 question asked you to write about considering getting  a tattoo. Here is the perfect opportunity to weave in vocabulary about money and parents. For example, you may say that you can’t afford it/ that it may be a waste of money or that your parents won’t allow you. Remember: if you are going to do this you must ensure that it is relevant to the question. For example, instead of stating that “mes parents seront fâchées”, I would say “mes parents seront fâchées…. ils trouvent les tatouages dégoutants et trop chers!” This immediately relates back to my question and ensures that I am actually answering the question.


Step 3: Get going!

The answer should be around ¾ of an A4 page.  Read over it and ensure that the verbs are correct. Does the verb use etre? Does it therefore use agreement? Remember that this is your only opportunity to impress the examiner so mix up the “imparfait” and the “passé compose.” Feel free to also use the plus-que-parfait- learn about this here!


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