The English (LV1 / LVA) Baccalauréat

In my last post, I tried to explained the ins and outs of the French Baccalauréat (Bac Général). Now, seeing as the English Baccalauréat is tomorrow, I am going to explain specifically how the English Baccalauréat is structured for non-OIB students.

The English exam has four parts:

  • Compréhension orale (listening comprehension)
  • Expression orale (oral expression)
  • Compréhension écrite (reading comprehension)
  • Expression écrite (writing comprehension)

For ES and S students, the English Baccalauréat is worth a coef. 3; for L students, it is either worth either a coef 4 or a coef 8, depending on which world language they choose to specialize in. Additionally, L students do not partake in the the listening comprehension part of the exam.

Before we get into the specifics of the exam, let’s back track a bit. The world language curriculum of Education Nationale in France is based around Quatre Notions, or Four themes:

Screen Shot 2017-06-18 at 10.46.33.png

  • Myths and Heroes (Mythes et héros)
  • Places and Forms of Power (Lieux et formes de pouvoir)
  • The Idea of Progress (L’idée de progrès)
  • Spaces and exchanges (Espaces et échanges)

Everything we study in the Terminale curriculum has to fit into one of these four themes, which is actually pretty easy, as many documents usually cross over. For example, we studied 9/11 War Heroes, Steve Jobs and technological progress, The Civil Rights Movement (The Help, The Unequal Opportunity Race, MLK, #BlackLivesMatter), Women’s Rights (#HeForShe, We Should All Be Feminists), The Syrian Refugee Crisis, the US Presidential Elections, and three novels including Animal Farm by George Orwell, A View From the Bridge by Arthur Miller, Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck, among many other random things.

Assistants have a great opportunity to work with Terminale students as many of the lessons you could do could fit into many different themes. (ie: Saint Patrick’s Day and Santa Claus for Myths; Black History Month for Places & Forms of Power or Idea of Progress, Immigration for Spaces & Exchanges, etc.)

Now below is a well-laid out explanation of the different parts of the English Bac Exam:

Screen Shot 2017-06-15 at 22.07.20.png

The first part of the exam is the listening comprehension, which usually takes place in February, at school, and is graded by their teacher (me). Basically, students watch a 1 minute 30 second video clip three times, with one-minute in between to take notes, and then have 10 minutes to write a summary of the clip in French, using as many details as possible. You can either get a grade of 1, 3, 5, 8, or 10, but nothing in between. This is 1/4 of your English Bac score.

The second part of the exam is the oral expression, which happens in May. If you are an S or ES student, the oral exams take place with your classroom teacher. Basically, the students have to prepare a 5-minute speech for each of the 4 notions– four speeches in total. For each speech, the student must define the notion and give supporting examples using 2-3 documents from class, and finally give their opinion. It is then followed by a 5-minute Q + A session with the teacher. On the day of the exam, students pick one notion from a hat, are given 10 minutes to prepare, and then they give their speech. Students are marked out of 20.

If you are an L student, you choose either 2 or 4 notions and prepare a 10 or 20 minute speech, followed by Q + A for each. The speech is done with an outside examiner.

The final part of the English Baccalauréat is the reading and writing comprehension. This year, the exam took place on Monday, June 19, 2017. The exam is 3 hours long and includes a reading comprehension and written expression. The exam consists of 2 or 3 documents (as of 2016- two written documents and a photo, for the first time ever, and a continued theme in 2017), followed by comprehension questions. Students must quote from the text, use complete sentences, and use their own words when answering to show that they understand the different aspects of the texts. L students are also given special questions to do alongside the others. The writing portion is usually either one long response of 300 words, or two shorter responses of 150 words. Students may have to complete a dialogue, write a diary entry, continue a story, write a letter, or write a magazine or newspaper article. They need to know and understand the techniques of how these are reproduced. For an example, here are the exams from 2016 and 2017. The reading comprehension is graded out of 10, and the writing is out of 10 as well.

Afterwards, students get an average mark from all four parts [reading (__/10), writing (__/10), speaking (__/20), and listening (__/10)], and an overall score for English.

Best of luck too all students taking the English Bac exam! I feel like I am more nervous than they are!






12 thoughts on “The English (LV1 / LVA) Baccalauréat

  1. Hi Dana,
    For the listening comprehension, are there any example videos? Or are tbese chosen by the teacher? Also, would they usually use subtitles? I’m just trying to guage the level of difficulty so I can help one of my students who has the test soon.
    Thanks for the post, very helpful!

    1. Hi Kate,

      No subtitles for the listening (that would be a bit too easy), the videos are chosen by the teacher. If you do a search on YouTube you can find tons. There’s also a really helpful website called ‘Anglais pour le Bac’ with great practice examples! Hope that helps 🙂

  2. Super useful. I offered to help a friend’s kid with her English bac and knew nothing about the exam. Is there somewhere I can find a syllabus of what they are expected to know? Or should I just begin at the basics as a normal English class would do – her level is low/false beginner.

    1. I don’t think there’s any syllabus per say, most teachers are kind of on their own. I think mixing grammar with other activities catered to her interests would be most efficient. What kinds of things does she like? Glad you found it helpful!

    1. “Basically, the students have to prepare a 5-minute speech for each of the 4 notions– four speeches in total. For each speech, the student must define the notion and give supporting examples using 2-3 documents from class, and finally give their opinion. It is then followed by a 5-minute Q + A session with the teacher.” Students are not supposed to give a speech they would learn by rote, that is useless. As for the interaction part, it’s supposed to be a conversation not a Q&A… Just saying…

  3. Courage with all your copies, Dana! 86 is a lot! (You will be paid for it though, some time in the fall.) Have your colleagues explained the question-by-question correction strategy? I corrected a couple years ago and it took a couple very full afternoons, but it was very formative, as well as the jury afterward.

    Just fyi, the mark is actually an average of the 4 parts of the exam (listening, speaking, reading, writing).

    1. Yes!! Question-by-question all the way! Been doing that for the DSTs and compos / bac blancs too… I’m weirdly looking forward to it actually because I know I’ll be able to teach it so much better next year… and thank you for the marks clarification! will make adjustments!

  4. Courage to you and your students, Dana!! It’s so so helpful to have a clearer understanding of how these exams work, even though I don’t teach in lycée right now… I tutored a terminale last year and was totally lost when it came to preparing her for her bac. I would do soooo many things differently looking back, hahah!

    I remember my IB french épreuves being similar, but I don’t think my teacher prepared us very well for them… even though I learned a lot of french over the two years, I was totally unprepared for the actual exams! Not a great look.

Let me know what you think!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.