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Subject Choice

Leaving Certificate


Career Zone
NFQ Level
2 Years


Studying German - German
Studying German - German
Laura Glendon - German
Laura Glendon - German
Sharon Carty - German
Sharon Carty - German
Fergal Donnelly - German and French
Fergal Donnelly - German and French

German as a Leaving Certificate subject aims to bring students closer to fluency in the German language, as well as developing a good knowledge of literature, culture, geography, and national history to provide a context for communication.

Germany plays a major role in the European context, and after English, German is the most spoken language in the European Union and the tenth most spoken language in the world. German offers significant career value for the years ahead.

What kind of student might German suit?

  • Anyone with an interest in German culture, history, and language.
  • Students who are considering working in Germany, Austria, or international relations in the future.
  • Students who can already speak German and want easy points.


  • 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 German at Junior Certificate Level are encouraged to continue with it in Leaving Cert.

Some schools require all their Leaving Certificate students to take an additional language, besides English and Irish. If students have the option to choose whether or not to take a third language, they should consider it seriously, as it may determine the choices available to them when it comes to applying for college.

For example, a third language is a requirement of certain departments in the NUI colleges -- University College Cork (UCC), University College Dublin (UCD), NUI Galway and NUI Maynooth. 

Departments in NUI colleges that require students to have a language include Arts, Humanities, Law, Social Science, Commerce, Medicine and Health Sciences, and some other degrees. A third language is not required for engineering or agriculture in these colleges.

Trinity College Dublin (TCD) and the University of Limerick require students to have one language - either Irish or a modern language, while Dublin City University (DCU) and the Institutes of Technology require students to pass Maths and English or Irish.

This subject builds skills and knowledge that are particularly useful for careers in the following Career Sectors:

Grades Awarded

Marks Distribution 2019:

Listed below are the percentage distributions of marks from the 6247 students who sat the Higher Level German exam in 2019.

Listed below are the percentage distributions of marks from the 2297 students who sat the Ordinary Level German exam in 2019.


Explore Marks Distribution for all Subjects:

Course Overview

Leaving Certificate German aims:

  • To introduce the students to German as a living and vibrant method of communication thus helping them to appreciate a culture other than their own.
  • To enable the students to acquire the necessary communicative skills that will allow them to take full part in classroom activities in German, participate in everyday transactions and interactions, extract information from and to interpret the various mass media communications, make further study and or possible career paths through the medium of the German language a realistic option.
  • To achieve the above aims the students must be facilitated to develop a critical awareness of how meaning is organised and conveyed by the structures and vocabulary of the German language and to develop an understanding of language in general.

The aim is to continue and develop the aspects and aims of the Junior Cycle Programme and to develop skills in the following four areas leading to proficiency in all areas of the German language:

  • Oral/speaking
  • Written
  • Aural/listening
  • Reading

Course Content

Modern languages require students to be proficient in the following skills:

Oral Proficiency in a range of personal, social, cultural and topical areas.

Aural Proficiency The ability to listen to and answer questions on a wide variety of auditory stimuli.

Comprehension Proficiency The students must be able to read, interpret, extract and manipulate texts ranging from literature to contemporary journalism and answer questions in the target language.

Written Production Proficiency The student must be able to react to a given stimulus in grammatically correct everyday German. These stimuli can take the form of an informal or formal letter, a reaction to a picture, photo, chart, etc. or expressing one’s own opinion on a syllabus-related topic.

A wide variety of themes are covered, for example:

  • Family    
  • School    
  • Hobbies    
  • Sport    
  • Current affairs

Grammar and Cultural Awareness are essential elements of these courses.

Exam Structure

The examination will assess a candidate’s ability to:

  1. Understand the spoken language
  2. Understand the written language
  3. Communicate in the spoken language
  4. Communicate in the written language
Mark Allocation for Leaving Certificate German:

Section    Higher Level Ordinary Level
Speaking 25%   20%
Listening Comprehension 20% 25% 
Reading Comprehension 30% 40% 
Writing 25%  15%

Leaving Certificate Exam Tips:

The German paper is a fair paper which gives scope to students at all levels to achieve their maximum potential. The paper will test both the students’ proficiency in the language as well as skills in answering technique.

Students should be very familiar with the layout of the exam paper, being aware of the skills required in each section. It is essential to practise answering a variety of questions that may occur in the exam.

Have a definite time plan made out to complete all sections on the day and practice within the time limits given. In reviews of past German exams, time was a critical factor on the higher paper for students chasing the top grades.

The reading comprehension section carries most marks in both ordinary and higher level papers. Be mindful that:

  • Accuracy is important
  • Marks are deducted for grammatical errors
  • Read the questions carefully before you start to read passage
  • Underline what you are being asked in each question and highlight where answers can be found
  • If the question does not specify length of answer a safe bet is to assume that at least three main points are needed
  • Students who practise comprehensions on a regular basis build up their skills and gain high marks. You can access all the marking schemes through the resources section of this page.

The German oral examination consists of a fifteen minute interview where students are examined in three different sections:

German Interview with examiner, presentation of project or picture sequence and role play.

At higher level the exam is worth 25% and at ordinary 20%. The secret for success is in your preparation. Criteria used to assess oral competence include:

  • Range of vocabulary
  • Range of expression
  • Awareness and use of grammar
  • Independence from examiner support
  • Appropriateness
  • Fluency
  • Pronunciation

The oral exam takes place in March/April of 6th year.  15 mins – German

Aural/Listening Exam (40 mins) This exam takes place after the written examination in June. It involves listening to a variety of dialogues and news items in the target language and then answering in English. One section on the German paper requires answers in German.

Written Exam (2½ hours) At Higher Level Reading Comprehension involves a literary and a journalistic reading text, followed by questions testing comprehension, language awareness, applied grammar and the student’s ability to give an opinion on a topic raised.

The written section consists of a formal or informal letter or an essay-type response to a picture.

At Ordinary Level students do one literary and two journalistic comprehensions with similar exercises to Higher Level. Written exercises include letters, telling a story from a given series of pictures, writing a dialogue.

Career Possibilities

Germany is one of Ireland's leading trading partners and Irish companies need professionals with a good knowledge of German. Germany is also the world's largest outbound market and is the third most important market for visitors to the Ireland. As such, the language would be very useful in a range of career areas:

Tourism, Hospitality, Food and Wine, Sales and Marketing, Teaching, Engineering, Finance, Technology and the Public Service. Careers in the Institutions of the European Union are also available - explore Irish Voices: EU Careers here.

Career Guidance

Subject Group: Humanities

These subjects explore the ways in which humans live and communicate in the world. Human life is examined by looking at our past, our present and into our future. These subjects help people to express themselves clearly and develop their reasoning ability.

Required for 3rd Level?

This subject is essential for entry into some Third Level courses. For example, Business Studies with German TCD (Grade H3 in German); Law and German TCD (Grade H3); Business Studies with German at UL (Grade H4).



What subjects did you take in school and how have these influenced your career path?

Mary Joyce, Secondary School Teacher
In school I studied Geography, German, History and Economics along with the three core subjects. Geography is the only subject that has influenced by career as it was my elective subject in college and I am now teaching it along with PE. You need to consider the subject choices available with PE in your chosen course and college as it will be affected by your chosen subjects at leaving cert.

... View Full Interview

Dr Jan Steiner, Anaesthetist
Specific subjects that I "specialised" in were German & Biology. None of the subjects chosen in school influenced my career path.

... View Full Interview

Gail Sterio, Corporate Accountant

I took German, Biology, Accounting and Business Studies along with English, Irish & Maths. I think it is very difficult to choose subjects in school. It feels like the world is on your shoulders and that this choice will have a huge impact on your future career.

The reality these days is that people change and mature at different stages in their life. Many people I know are not working in the area that they studied for in College - let alone school.

In hindsight - I think it is important to study what you are good at as this will enable you to get the points you need for your desired college course. The college course normally does not assume prior knowledge in these subjects and will start with the basics.

... View Full Interview

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