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Ideas for Oral French Exams

by Amy Mahoney, studioD

French classes often include an oral exam. These exams help teachers assess students’ conversational grasp of the language, as well as fluency and accuracy. When choosing a topic for an oral presentation, aim for a subject that is specific and focused, so you don’t end up spending too much time researching and not enough preparing for the oral aspects of the presentation. Avoid complicated issues that are difficult to explain. Choosing a topic that you’re interested in may make it easier to prepare for and deliver a French oral exam.

Current Events

Current events in France or other French-speaking countries are great topics for oral presentations. This approach allows you to explain the issue and offer your opinion. For example, you could discuss the government’s new initiative to use probation to reduce the number of inmates in the country’s overcrowded jails, and you could then offer your perspective on the issue. You could also focus your presentation on current sports events, such as preparations for or results of the annual bicycle race, the Tour de France.

French Culture

Understanding French culture is an important part of any French class. Choose an aspect of French culture to highlight for your oral exam. For example, you could explain the significance of the French independence holiday, Bastille Day. You could focus on food, such as by explaining the significance of wine making to the French culture. Other cultural topics could be related to social events, leisure activities, religion, film, art or books.

Famous Historical Figures

French history can be a source of inspiration for oral exam topics. Choose an event from French history, such as the French Revolution, or a famous French figure, such as Napoleon, Claude Monet or Marie Antoinette, and explain why they’re significant. You could deliver your exam as a historical person, dressing up and becoming a character to enhance your presentation. For example, you could dress up like Gustave Eiffel to speak about the design of the Eiffel Tower or as Coco Chanel to talk about fashion.

French Outside of France

French language and culture is not limited to France. Consider choosing a topic from other French-speaking countries, such as Canada, Guinea, Luxembourg, Switzerland or Haiti. You could talk about bilingualism in Canada or Switzerland, explain the tradition of Carnival in Quebec, or discuss the political turmoil in Haiti. You might also talk about the role of the Alliance Française, an organization that aims to promote the understanding of the French culture and language around the world.

About the Author

Amy Mahoney has been a writer for more than 15 years. Her articles have appeared in newspapers and magazines including “The Boston Globe,” “Reader’s Digest” and the “Miami Herald.” She holds a Master of Fine Arts in fiction.

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