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Brendan Kennelly for Leaving Cert English: Begin

"Begin" by Brendan KennellyYou may also like: 2019 Guide to Leaving Cert English. Full notes on Brendan Kennelly will be made available to everyone who has the 2019 guide, free of charge, as soon as they are ready.

Summary: a philosophical reflection on starting something new again and again communicated through the description of a morning walk across the Grand Canal in Dublin.

Style features:
anaphora (1) (highlighted in bold) adds a sense of determination as does the repetition of the word “begin” throughout the poemenjambment highlights the never ending need to begin again imperative tone, “begin again” is an encouraging command to never give up alliteration e.g. “dying in dark / determination” enhances the imageryreference to familiar places, “Pembroke Road” near the Aviva Stadium in Dublin 4, make the poem more accessibleimagery appeals to multiple senses: “summoning birds”, “sight of the light”, “roar of morning traffic”, “crying birds in the sudden rain”, “branches…

Leaving Cert Speech: Social Media is Dangerous #625Lab

Write a speech for or against the topic 'Social Media is dangerous' to be delivered to your fellow classmates and teachers.

This is an essay from a current Leaving Cert student. It's published under our #625Lab section that reviews the strengths and weaknesses of students' essays. You may also like: Complete Guide to Leaving Cert English (€) 


Hello fellow students. My name is Maeve Walsh, and I am here today to talk to you about the danger of social media. Now, If I were to do a simple survey to see who, in this room, does not use Snapchat, Facebook or Instagram, daily, the results would be minute show that this is only a minute percentage. Shall we give it a try? Who here does not use social media? (This is a good intro because it addresses the audience and asks rhetorical questions making it clear to the examiner that the author is engaging with the task of writing a speech. However, it doesn't give any indication of what the author's main arguments are going to be. An introduction doesn't have to do that, but it's a problem in this essay as we will see later.)

Leaving Cert essay social media

As you all can see, my predicted statistics matched the outcome in this room. (Classic persuasion. A good speech can involve elements from the language of argument, persuasion, information and narration.) My guess is that the few here who do not use social media, are first years whose parents, perhaps, do not want to expose them to the online world just yet. That is completely understandable given the circumstances of today’s world. 

In just over a decade, technology has spiralled from the so-called ‘brick phones’ to slim smartphones. Technology giants such as Apple and Samsung have managed to put about twenty separate objects, for example, the telephone, alarm clock and television, into one handy masterpiece called the mobile phone. So why shouldn’t we all have one? It’s basically like having the world at our fingertips. We can stay connected to loved ones on the other side of the world, research anything we want in seconds with search engines like Google and entertain ourselves with social media. However, behind this façade is a grave danger.

Social media advanced rapidly with the creation of the smartphone. Everyone now had easy access to the internet compared to its initial availability in the 1980s. The technology just wasn’t around until the turn of the century. However, as soon as it was, a whole new entrepreneurial sector opened. It was dubbed social media. Facebook was one of the first. In 2005, Mark Zuckerberg released his social website to the campus of Harvard University, and from there it grew at a rapid pace. As you can imagine, Zuckerberg became very rich. In fact, he was the youngest billionaire in the world. Others soon followed. As of today, the top social media sites include Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram. (This whole paragraph, as well as the preceding one, isn't really relevant to this exact essay title. It's a summary of social media history. Does it tell us anything about the dangers of social media? Not really. In the preceding paragraph, the author ended on "behind this façade is a grave danger", so as a reader, I was expecting that the following paragraph would show me the dangers. The fact that she didn't follow through on that isn't great. Coherence of Delivery marks lost.)

Although social media has its clear advantages like connectivity, fast news and entertainment, it has turned humanity into slaves of the virtual world. (Now, the author is addressing the subject.) Although people may disagree, when you sit down to eat with friends or family, 70% of the time, out come the smartphones. Physical connectivity is reduced. Also, this generation's confidence levels are far lower compared to the generations before them as they spend most of their time behind a glowing screen. (This sort of statement would look much better if it was backed up by some kind of reference to authority to make it both more persuasive and more informative. In the Leaving Cert, it can be vague, like "according to the latest research carried out on Gen X")

However, this isn’t as much of a danger as it is a disadvantage, but the low confidence levels definitely contribute to the danger I would like to discuss now. (A sentence with both however and but is quite confusing. It's better to split these two ideas into separate sentences.) Bullying. (Great variation of sentence structure.) Back in the day, when technology’s existence was sparse, bullying mostly existed in the playground with the classic ‘bully’ bullying ‘nerds’ or whomever they disliked. They achieved this physically or verbally with crude words being said face to face. Although this was bad, I feel what happens today is much worse. Would you agree? (That's a rhetorical question, and they look good in speeches. However, as rhetorical questions go, this isn't a great one because it does actually need an answer. A good alternative here would be "I am sure you would agree".)

The type of bully I just described who preys on its victims physically isn’t as popular common today as it was years ago. He or she has now been replaced with the anonymous cyber bully. Cyber bullying isn’t always anonymous, but in this example of it was. ASKfm was founded in 2010. It was a social media site where users could ask each other anonymous questions. Its intentions were purely supposed to be fun, but it turned into quite the opposite. As it was mostly anonymous, it developed into a cyber bullying hub. (Don't forget the comma before an independent clause.)

Anybody here today who has been subject to the atrocity of bullying or cyber bullying knows how awful it is. And may I say, believe me, you are not alone. Talk to someone. I know it is easier said than done, but the consequences of the alternative is much, much worse. Many people who are a victim to cyber bullying on websites such as ASKfm became so depressed and self-conscious that they sadly committed suicide. Nobody wants that, but since the introduction of social media, suicide rates of teenagers have increased. We see the consequential danger dangerous consequences of social media here.

There’s not much we can do to change that. I mean humanity has become so dependent on social media, that we can’t just shut it down. But what I can say is, never ever bully anyone. Bullying and cyberbullying hurts people emotionally and physically and can cause something that I know you would regret. Not everyone gets along, that’s reality, but that doesn’t mean you should go out of your way to make them miserable. 

Logging on to the online world gives you a greater exposure to the world than before (The repetition of the word world doesn't really achieve anything, it should be replaced or dropped.). Whatever photo or post you upload can be found by anyone. That’s another danger. Don’t upload anything you wouldn’t show to your granny or mother without being embarrassed. Future employers will scour your profiles across the board to see what you’re like. If, for example, your Facebook profile isn’t appealing to them, they may not want to employ you. And remember, anything you upload, even if you delete, stays on the internet forever. So be careful.

So, as I finish my talk to you about the danger of social media, I truly hope that you will take what I have said and apply it to yourselves. Thank you for listening. (All throughout the essay, the author made it very clear she is writing a speech and that will do wonders for her mark. As conclusions go, this one is a bit short.)

Many thanks to the author, Maeve Walsh

Leaving Cert English essays are marked using "PCLM"

Clarity of purpose (the most important part of "PCLM"):

- The message isn't really clear. The author doesn't list her main points in the intro nor does she explain them at the beginning of each respective paragraph. 
She oscillates between stating facts about social media and giving advice on how to avoid becoming it's victim. The trouble is that there is no structure. As the reader, I can identify the following dangers of social media from this essay: 
1) bullying that can lead to suicide and 
2) employers may not employ you because of your social media output. 
Just two real reasons. The first is fairly well developed with AskFm etc, but the second is only a passing remark. Ideally, the author would have a third and possibly even a fourth reason and structure the essay on the three-four arguments that directly address the question.

The author definitely tried to answer the question and did a decent job of writing a speech. 

Coherence of Delivery


- The ideas aren't presented in a consistent manner. There is no real continuity or transitions. I have to think quite hard to crystallise the main point of each paragraph. It's best to not ask the examiner to work hard :)

Efficiency of Language Use


- The logic isn't really shining through as a consequence of there not being a sturdy structure to this essay. Otherwise, the language is very good.

Accuracy of Mechanics


It's all been tidied up here, but remember that this counts for 10%!


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