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Bac 2021: with the grand oral, the French school wants to catch up



After the philosophy, the grand oral, second and last final test of this session of the bac, lightened because of the Covid. This 20-minute exam is one of the main new features of the Blanquer version of the baccalaureate. A break in our education system.

Admittedly, the patent already includes an oral, just as the common base mentions oral skills. “But our school pays too little attention to it, while such skills are essential in higher education and in the professional world”, emphasizes Christelle Meslé-Génin, president of JobIRL, an association that brings young people closer to employment.

→ ANALYSIS. Bac 2021: the great oral continues to be debated

“It is all the more essential as we work more and more on projects to be defended. In our automated, digitized world, human qualities, in particular the ability to communicate, make the difference ”, she insists. Hence the free training sessions that its structure offers to candidates for the grand oral.

An unequal test?

“I had to wait for this online meeting with a volunteer from the corporate world to find out how to cope and overcome my stage fright”, testifies Rania, beneficiary of this program. This student from Hauts-de-Seine, already accepted in medical school, evokes the stress that grips her, since college, every time she speaks in public. The one who prepared two presentations for her grand oral, in math and physics, believes she gleaned more advice on the Internet than from her teachers.

In debates, one argument often comes up: the character “Unequal” of the great oral. Because, argues the Apses, the Association of professors of economic and social sciences, the test relates largely to the form, with “The evaluation of behaviors, bodily attitudes, language skills which are distributed very unequally according to social backgrounds”. “It is precisely because these inequalities exist – as indeed in writing – that the grand oral is relevant, answers the former rector Alain Boissinot. By integrating it into the bac, we send a strong signal to the school as a whole. “

Eloquence contest

For Matthieu Prezelin, at the head of a Catholic college in Saumur (Maine-et-Loire), it is never too early to work on speaking. In his establishment, for a week, all the students of the fourth year participate in the operation “It is shared! “. “Everyone presents in class in a very free way a presentation on their passion, a film that they have seen, or a current event. The presentation is followed by a benevolent evaluation, based on smileys, from the comrades. “

In recent years, we have also seen the emergence of eloquence competitions in schools. But the delay remains great. “The school maintains a literary culture, largely embedded in a tradition of written text commentaries, continues Alain Boissinot. Where Anglo-Saxons are often invited to express orally what they feel when reading the text. “

Many countries conquer the spoken word

With us, speaking is also perceived as “A place of educational insecurity”. Because the teacher may be afraid of losing the common thread of his course if he asks a lot of the students’ words. “In addition, speaking obliges the teacher to assess live, while in writing, he can return to copy with a cool head”, continues the former rector.

According to the latter, the most marked progress has been made in languages, under the impetus of the common frame of reference adopted in 2001.. “We stopped teaching English or German almost like dead languages! “ In twenty years, we have also, in French, timidly reconnected with the heritage of rhetoric. A welcome movement from the perspective of the great oral.

“The relationship of the French school to orality is paradoxical, notes François-Roger Gauthier, Honorary Inspector General, former member of the Higher Council for Programs. Oral is often associated with the demeaning notion of catching up. And at the same time, we talk, in prestigious training courses, of “grand oral”… ”

As a recent issue of the International review of Sèvres education that he coordinated, France – with his great oral inspired by colloquio Italian – is not the only one to conquer orality. “This is true in Switzerland, Italy and England, countries that are ahead. But also in Japan or even in Ivory Coast, where for a long time students were especially asked to be silent… ”

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How is the test going?

For the grand oral, each candidate prepares two questions, by relying on one or both of the specialty courses. The jury selects one of these subjects, for a five-minute presentation, standing, followed by ten minutes of discussions.

The test has a last part devoted to the youth orientation project.

The evaluation criteria relate to knowledge, oral quality during the test, continuous speaking, interaction, construction and argumentation.

The grand oral is assigned a coefficient of 10 in the general series, 14 in technological series.

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