English – Junior Cycle

Subject Overview

The general aim of teaching English at Junior Cycle is to reinforce and continue the work of the primary school in nurturing the intellectual, imaginative and emotional growth of each student by developing his/her personal proficiency in the arts and skills of language. This personal proficiency involves three dynamically interrelated elements: personal literacy, social literacy and cultural literacy. The interdependence of these elements is the essential foundation for the successful teaching of English in the Junior Cycle.


Teachers are free to choose their own texts and materials to achieve the objectives of the programme, to ensure that learners are enabled to achieve the learning outcomes appropriate to the general aims of the syllabus. In their choice, teachers are expected to choose materials from a wide range of literary genres along with other print and media material. At Higher level, some acquaintance with pre-contemporary literature (pre-1900) and the study of one unit based on a Shakespeare text would normally be expected. Teaching of language and literature should not be separate from one another. There should be a wholeness or unity to the student’s language experiences, so that language learning (e.g. spelling, grammar, punctuation, and so on) should happen as a natural part of the student’s encounters with the whole range of texts suggested above.


Assessment is by means of a written examination at three levels:

  • Foundation
  • Ordinary
  • Higher

The papers consist of a variety of questions which include responding to unseen material. There are no prescribed texts for examination.

Current status

This syllabus was implemented in schools in 1989. As part of the review of junior cycle, it is one of syllabuses currently undergoing a rebalancing process, in a move towards presenting all junior cycle syllabuses in similar formats.