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 three parts:
- Compréhension orale (listening comprehension)
- Expression orale (oral expression)
- Compréhension écrite (reading and writing comprehension)
For ES and S students, the English Baccalauréat is worth a coef. 3; for L students, it is either worth 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:
- 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:
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 who is doing a Coef. 8, you choose 2 notions and prepare a 10-minute speech, with a followed 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 is taking 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.
This year, I was also summoned to correct the Baccalauréat papers. On June 21st, I need to go and pick up 86 copies of the exam, as well as 1 or 2 designated exams to grade within the next 24 hours. The next day on the 22nd, there will be an all-day training with other teachers in the region. We all come together with our graded copies and discuss our marks and each question in detail, in order to try and ensure a scale, and fairness within the marking. I have about a week to complete all the marking.
Best of luck too all students taking the English Bac exam! I feel like I am more nervous than they are!