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You've possibly never given a talk before in your whole life, especially in a foreign language.

  • For the talk, give yourself plenty of preparation time; pick something you are interested in - if you're bored with the topic, this will come through in the speech and just think how the examiner will feel.
  • You will probably be questioned on your talk afterwards so make sure it's something you have opinions on and something you can talk about beyond the basic talk itself. You may have to justify something you said in the talk so be prepared to go into it in detail.
  • You are normally allowed to take pictures, graphs, adverts, etc. into the exam to strengthen your argument so you don't need to learn loads of statistics off by heart but could have a bar-chart/grid with statistics on and mention the chart in the talk, for example, 'there has been a dramatic increase/decline in recent years, as shown on this chart'.
  • Write it out and make it interesting - you get marks for maintaining the examiner's interest.
  • Have lots of opinions, reasons, justifications, etc.
  • Look at the mark scheme - do you fulfil all the criteria? You don't want to lose 20% just because you didn't mention France.
  • Include some nice A-level phrases/idioms etc., just like you do in essays (but not too many!)
  • Time it!
  • Is your teacher allowed to check it?
  • Work on it with the French assistant, even get them to record it for you.
  • If you haven't got an assistant, work on it with others in the class.
  • You'll probably be allowed to take in 'headings' (usually 4 or 5) so choose carefully. Do you want four or five general headings or the first few words of the actual paragraphs?
  • Don't cheat on the headings, you'll have to hand them in to the examiner afterwards!
  • Learn your talk - no short cuts here and you'll probably end up reciting it in your sleep. Get people to test you on it, even if it's just for the experience of actually talking to someone.
  • On the day, look at the examiner, (not at the floor or at your notes) and sound confident and interested.

Talking French

What if you get asked a question you didn't expect?

  • You choose the topic for the talk, so it's assumed you have something to say about it beyond just the speech itself. This section usually carries more marks than the actual speech, so think in advance about the likely questions you'll get - ask others to think for you. You'll probably be able to think of loads and ask your teacher if anyone has done that topic before and if so, what were they asked? Thinking of the questions is the easy bit. You then have to think what you're going to say if you get asked them.

  • Don't forget you may be expected to ask the examiner questions in this section (probably three) but try to use different structures and ways of asking questions.

  • 'Do you agree?'
  • 'What do you think of...'
  • 'In your opinion, is there...'

  • Try to use a range of language here. There is usually a specific number of marks allocated just for your ability to ask questions. But just like the speech, you can plan either whole questions in advance or question structures that allow you to tag something on to it at the end to suit the particular topic, for example:

  • quelle est votre opinion de...'
  • 'qu'est-ce que vous pensez de...'
  • 'avez-vous jamais...'
  • 'êtes-vous d'accord que...'

  • Look in the grammar section for help on asking questions and also see the questions section for relevant ones for your topic.

  • You can always play for time for example - 'That's a very difficult question to answer', 'I'm glad you asked me that' or even just repeat the question, 'Indeed, should we join the Euro'. You could even tie two or three together, 'I'm glad you asked me that. Should we join the Euro? Well that's avery difficult question to answer; personally I think..'. I know it's a bit artificial but it will give you a few seconds thinking space, and it's far better to do this in French than panic and um and ah in English (as long as you don't do it too often).