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Success at Provincial French Public Speaking Competition

Earlier in May, four St. Michael’s College School (SMCS) students had the opportunity to represent their school at the 38th annual provincial Concours d’art oratoire held at York University’s Glendon Campus.

SMCS students at the concours d'art oratoire, provincial French speaking competition

The speech competition features students from across Ontario who have advanced through regional competitions to participate in the provincial competition. It is the largest annual event of its kind in French for French as a second language (FSL) students in Grades 9 to 12.

Concours d’art oratoire provides an opportunity for students to develop and use their oral French skills, a key component of their journey to bilingualism in both official languages.

“The event provides an occasion for our students to challenge themselves, push beyond their comfort zone, and develop their abilities to articulate their ideas with clarity and conviction in a second language,” says Jennifer Lee, who alongside Dr. Caitlin Gaffney, both French teachers at SMCS, worked with the students throughout the competition.

SMCS students, Ronan Zhong (Grade 9) and Alexandre Choquet (Grade 9) prepared traditional speeches, while Nathan Girma Kesete (Grade 9) and Theodore Gingras (Grade 10) competed in an impromptu category which required them to respond to a randomly chosen question after just 15 minutes of preparation.

SMCS students with their medals after a successful day at a provincial French public speaking competition.

“I was born in a French-speaking household, so I’ve always had a deep connection to the French language,” says Choquet who walked away with a bronze medal and a cash prize of $100. “Representing our school in this contest was a great experience for me. I learned how anyone is able to improve at French no matter how advanced or beginner they are.”

SMCS took home the top prizes in the impromptu category, with Gingras capturing the silver medal and a cash prize of $200 and Kesete earning the gold medal and $300.

“I had no experience in French other than 30-minute classes through elementary school, but I was still successful in the competition,” says Kesete. “Being able to represent St. Mike’s in my third language is something I will never forget. I got to make new friends and experience something I couldn’t have anywhere else. I’m looking forward to next year’s contest, improving my French further, and making my school proud.”

Congratulations are extended to all participants who proudly represented SMCS throughout the regional and provincial competitions – a first for SMCS!

“During the concours, we witnessed and celebrated the confidence, proficiency, and achievement of our SMCS students,” says Lee. “Félicitation to both Nathan and Alex for their excellent performances and results. Their achievements will undoubtedly inspire future students to continue their pursuit of linguistic excellence and cultural understanding. We are grateful to all the teachers, mentors, and parents who provided guidance and support to the students throughout the journey.”

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