I’ve been in French immersion since kindergarten and in Canada, most French immersion kids participate in (or have at least heard of) a competition called the “Concours d’Art Oratoire” run by an organization called Canadian Parents for French. I started writing speeches and participating in the competition in grade 2 and in grade 4 I won the best speech in my class and presented in front of the school. My Middle School also participated in the Concours and in grade 6, I won not only in my class, but also in the competition out of my whole school, and went on to place first at districts. With that, I made it to provincials.
I had to practice every single day, and by the end of it, I could rehearse my speech completely by memory, in any way I wanted. I knew my speech so well, that for a year and a half after the whole competition was over, I could still recite it almost entirely! As well as this, the middle school competitions also involved being able to answer one or two questions about your topic afterward, which meant that I knew far more about bilingualism (which was my topic) than what I actually presented. However, none of that made any of the rounds of competition any less stressful. I didn’t place at provincials, unfortunately, but my loss only made my resolve to make it back the next year greater.
In grade 7, I settled on the topic of dangerous beauty fads and techniques used around the world in the past. I researched everything from arsenic powder makeup in England to foot binding in China. I had my speech completely memorized for my in-class presentation and won. I went on to win out of my school and at districts, finally going, once again, to provincials. This time around, I knew what to expect but it didn’t make me less nervous. In fact, if anything, knowing what to expect made me MORE nervous because I knew how good the competition was going to be. After so much stress, my hard work paid off and I placed third.
I know it happened a while ago (it has almost been 2 years) but it definitely was one of my proudest academic moments. Our grade eight classes didn’t participate in the Concours, and it’s not mandatory for high school so I probably won’t ever do it again, but the speech competitions absolutely taught me a lot and were amazing experiences!
I am proud of the amount of effort and dedication I put into my speeches — both writing and memorizing them — and of how much they taught me about my own learning. I am also proud of how well I handled the stress of the competitions because although they didn’t matter for my grades, it always felt as though my teachers and peers were counting on me to succeed.
I’m excited to read what everyone else writes about their education experience, and thanks so much for reading mine!