Lifestyles

The art of speaking in French

Students in M. Howell’s Grade 5 class at Beairsto elementary school give their speeches during Concours d’Art Oratoire: Emilia Vlahos speaks on Le Pere Noel (Santa Claus) during the annual event sponsored by Canadian Parents for French. - photo submitted
Students in M. Howell’s Grade 5 class at Beairsto elementary school give their speeches during Concours d’Art Oratoire: Emilia Vlahos speaks on Le Pere Noel (Santa Claus) during the annual event sponsored by Canadian Parents for French.
— image credit: photo submitted

Anyone who fears public speaking knows the terror that can strike when faced with an audience.

But for kids who take part in Concours d’Art Oratoire, they have an extra worry: giving a speech in a second language.

Concours is a public speaking event sponsored and organized by Canadian Parents for French, a grassroots not-for-profit organization that is committed to working toward French education and French socio-cultural experiences for Canadian schoolchildren.

“Concours d’Art Oratoire is an excellent academic opportunity that sees students researching, writing and presenting a speech entirely in French,” said Bridget Trainor, Vernon CPF Chapter president. “Through the support of teachers, administrators, parents and local CPF volunteers, Vernon French immersion students have been making these speeches for more than 20 years.”

This year, 900 Vernon students participated in Concours d’Art Oratoire, the largest number to date.

Beairsto students have been working on their Concours speeches over the past several weeks. They must research, write and present their speeches.

“Teachers and administrators are very supportive of this excellent academic endeavour,” said Trainor. “Nine hundred French immersion students from Vernon participated.

Up the street at Harwood elementary school, where the district’s late French immersion program is located, students excelled in this year’s Concours.

Grade 7 late French immersion student Maddy Moss not only shone at school and regionally but she won the provincial Concours in Vancouver.

“This was a first in the late French immersion history in Vernon,” said her teacher, Karyn Jantz. “I am so very proud of Maddy and her accomplishment. She has worked so hard this year and truly deserves the recognition.

“The thought of doing a memorized speech of three to five minutes, in a foreign language, in front of my peers, then their families, then at a provincial level, seems daunting. And yet, year after year these students rise to the challenge and succeed.”

For French immersion students who want to keep up their language skills throughout the summer, Canadian Parents for French also offers a number of summer camps in French.

Please go to www.cpf.bc.ca for information on how to register your child — or the whole family — for a fun summer camp.

Canadian Parents for French began in the mid-1960s when a few Anglophone parents in St. Lambert, Que. decided their children would be better off knowing both English and French, in a public school setting. They soon realized they didn’t have all the tools required to support their children, who also needed to be exposed to French outside the classroom. In 1977, CPF was born. The following year, a branch opened up in B.C. to support students in immersion programs, which had begun in 1968.

In 1999 there were 29,979 French immersion students enrolled in B.C. By 2012, there were 45,324.

 

 

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