In Paris, a first international eloquence competition to celebrate the Francophonie

Aïssatou comes from Guinea, Alvaro from Spain, Zyana from Mexico, Dardia from Quebec, Sina from Iran, Reon from Japan… In total they are 19, students from 5 continents who did not know each other 3 days ago. They will face each other next Monday and Tuesday with their words and their talent for “speaking out” to celebrate the Francophonie.

A final broadcast Tuesday on social networks

Among them are also Huda and Ahmad, who fled Syria at war and are now pursuing their studies in France, where their ability to speak French has captivated officials at Eloquentia, an international youth training program. speaking in French.

More than a hundred students from all over the world benefited from it in 2019, including the 19 finalists of this very first international competition of eloquence in French, “A words open”, created by the French Institute.

On Monday, the 19 will compete in the semi-finals, and 8 finalists will participate on Tuesday evening in a final oratorical game initially planned in public, under the golds and the dome of the Institut de France … but that the Coronavirus has forced behind closed doors, in a less prestigious room. However, the final “will be broadcast live and widely on social networks, we are working on it”, promise officials of the French Institute. Limit the risks, yes, but there is no question of giving up this first, “a formidable tool for debate and linguistic improvement”, as defended by Judith Roze, director of the French language department at the Institute.

A jury chaired by Leila Slimani

While waiting to compete in 5 minutes flat, Monday in the semi-finals and Tuesday for the last 8 finalists, in front of an eclectic jury chaired by the writer Leila Slimani, this week the candidate speakers benefit from a real “coaching” by professionals rhetoric, stage expression, stress management and other vocal techniques.

A marathon that is both very serious but also very fun for these future doctors, lawyers, engineers, teachers, or even this young Mauritanian high school student, Nana, barely 18 years old and already the winner of an eloquence competition in her country. As often, the young girl owes her love of the French language “to a teacher, for whom I am deeply grateful”.

Before rubbing shoulders with the jury, Nana, the youngest of these young Francophiles, has also embarked on improvisation. Because eloquence is not just speech, as the coach demonstrates, hunter of “parasitic gesture”, tics of language and posture. “The wick that we put behind the ear every 30 seconds, the glasses that we put on the nose with each sentence, the” there “, the” you see “and other words unnecessary crutches that punctuate our exchanges … ”.

In 3 days, it will be the big leap, in front of the jury where rapper Abd Al Malik, academics Barbara Cassin and Xavier Darcos, comedian Blanche Gardin, or novelist David Foenkinos will rub shoulders.

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