Monday, February 27, 2012

Le Bac Blanc Français Oral- If you see it coming, run!

So this morning, after a nice long 2 weeks of vacation, I was forced by the almighty powers that be to wake up early and go to school during what is normally my free block to take a practice test of the living hell we'll all be put through at the end of this year. No problem right? So I'm not sure how much of this I already told you guys but what I did this morning was the Bac Blanc Oral in Français. This is a 10-minute oral presentation of a text that you have written a mini commentary about with a 10-minute question period about the texts and lectures you've studied in class. So I got to school this morning with about 40 minutes of nothing to do and decided to do some last minute cramming. Now let me explain to you what exactly it is that we had to study: for each "sequence" there is a guiding question for example "La quête de connaissance peut-elle aliéner l'Homme?" ("Can the quest of knowledge alienate Man?"). Then you have a series of texts for that sequence ranging from a couple short discours to certain scenes of a piece of theater to a series of poems. Then you have your documents complimentaires, which means that these are extra texts to study in order to understand the others. Then you have (not in every sequence) your lecture cursive, which means a piece of work you did, for example a book report about the connection between science and technology and the use of these to dominate mankind presented in 1984 by George Orwell or some other writing piece you did in class. Then you have your parcours d'ensemble which are the 4 or 5 lectures we were given during class about this particular subject. All that to study... x5 because there are 5 different sequences. That makes 15 studied text total, plus 16 supplementary texts plus 3 different writing assignments from class plus 24 lectures from class that you (hopefully) meticulously noted in your notebook and there are of course the books you've read for class. All that to study and for the actual presentation that pick one, just one, text with a question. Of course you have no idea which text and it changes with each student so you have to study all that.
So when the time came this morning I walked upstairs to the near-empty room and went in. The teacher (not one of mine- can't have biased judges of course!) gave me a paper with all the points that she'll be looking for in my presentation (more or less the rubric of the presentation itself) with the name of the text and the question written. I was then plunked down in the corner and given a half hour to prepare my little speech. Now, one might say, is it humanly possible to study almost all of those texts and then receive one of the only ones you didn't get around to studying? Well, yes it is, because that's what I got. The worst of it is that the two people behind me got questions about texts that I would have loved to get myself. Now you might be thinking, what two people behind me? Oh yeah, I guess I forgot to mention that while you're preparing your presentation, the next person comes in to the room and start their own. And then when you're in your presentation, a 2nd comes in to start theirs. I think it was every 20 minutes, it a rotation thing like that. So there are now two witnesses to the slaughter of French litterature I commited this morning.
Anyway, so once you've prepared you're mini speech (which has to have an intro, two axes complete with outside examples to support your ideas and a conclusion) you're called up to the front of the classroom. I sat down in front of the teacher and she marked some stuff on my paper and told me to start. Just like that. So I started which came out awkward at the beginning; ah bon, OK donc le texte étudié ici est La Dent d'Or par Fontanelle, de l'année 1687... and so on. I had to introduce the author, the era, etc. Luckily I knew almost nothing about the author and decided he was going to be one of the biggest philosopher, writer and scientist of the time- I think it flew just because in the 1600's famous people who write are generally also philosophers and scientists. So I moved on quickly hoping she would not notice if it wasn't right. Oh yeah, forgot to mention, this text is from the beginning of the year so when we studied it with the teacher was still when I understood very little and my notes in my notebook about this piece were... well let's just say they were missing quite a bit. So anyway, after the intro of author and setting I had understood in class that we were supposed to reread the text. I guess that was only for very very short texts or for an extract because I was a half paragraph in and she stopped me dead in mid-sentence. (By the way, the whole presentation section is timed- ideally you want to last 10 minutes.) So I continued on and read out my whole presentation, repeating myself way too many times, under-explaining many of my details and not connecting my explanation of the supporting texts I chose. All in all it was pretty horrific but I managed to last around 8 minutes- not bad! Normally they would take the last two minutes to ask you provoking questions to squeeze some more details out of you about your presentation and if you're stranded and dead at 4 minutes they'll pose you enough questions to keep you talking to the end. But the idea is to get there alone obviously. So I sat there for another minute and she wrote many things on a paper, usually not a good thing.... Then we moved into the questionnaire section where the teach gives you questions about the other texts studied in class and how the principle question (the one you wrote the essay about) can be applied to other documents. For this you have to have all the documents listed with you. So she asked and I did my best to answer up until we got to or rather a tableau, that I didn't have with me because it was glued into my notebook. I thought it was something by Pascal, turned out it was Galilée, turned out I had no idea what I was talking about. Probably more times than one.
So that was my experience with the Bac Blanc Oral. Now just to think that at the end of the year I'll be taking the real thing, much harder and longer. Maybe I'll go on vacation early....

I'm gonna throw on some random pictures here just because the last couple days it's been really nice outside, sunny and warm, which, if that how it works in France, is fine with me because the winter here is too short and too not-at-all-wintery that the sooner it's over the better.
 La jolie Louet

La jolie Louet from further down the river 

Some big French chateau/manor thingy

and again le Louet

1 comment:

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