Acing the French Individual Oral

The French Individual Oral can be scary. For me, it came 2nd on my list of scariest IAs. But never fear, because even if you have never been on exchange, do not like your language B and just do not have a knack for languages, you can still do well in this internal assessment, I promise. (But you still have to work hard for it).

Here are my 7 tips on effective preparation and study for the oral:

  1. Have your notes already compiled, or if you haven’t already, start now. Read my post on Getting a 7 in SL French for more details on how to write your notes.
  2. Memorise the key phrases, relevant to the topic that you are studying. We call this subject specific vocabulary. The more you have of this, the better. All of this will help you immensely in your discussion.
  3. Link words and phrases are essential. You need to be able to effectively link between the photo and the topic to show the examiner your knowledge of the issue at hand.
  4. Photo-describing phrases. Pretty obvious now you think about it, right?
  5. Grammar! Nothing worse than making a load of grammar errors in the oral- surefire easy way to lose marks. Make sure you have revised your grammar, and that you understand and can execute the structures accurately. Simple things like masculine and feminine nouns (especially the ones that come up over and over) must be perfect!!
  6. Practice practice practice describing photos and linking them back to the topic. Find photos off the web and practice them/record yourself. You can request practice runs with your teacher, or just practice with friends or your tutor. There really isn’t anything more useful than this, I find.
  7. Participate in class. Sounds irrelevant, but when you begin to get involved in class discussion you’ll find it is a lot easier to answer the questions in the discussion. Also very useful to have those discussions with friends and classmates – the more ideas you can spread and share, the better you will all fare! (Hey, that rhymes!).

And on the day, here are some tips for doing your best (despite the nerves):

  1. Stay calm and relaxed. Try not to think too much about it, and if need be, don’t talk about it with friends. While you are waiting outside the room the most important thing is to stay calm and perhaps go over some of the key phrases in your head.
  2. Try not to study outside the exam room. You probably won’t retain much of it anyway, so there is no point in freaking yourself out.
  3. Speak clearly, and if you need to fill gaps try “euuuuu” instead of “um” (it really breaks the flow).

Other than that, bonne chance!

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