National final of the French Debating competition 2015

The 2015 round of the Joutes oratoires was a testimony to the growing success of French debating competitions. We had this year the highest number of regional heats so far: The North, The East, The West, the Cheltenham area, North, South and Central London, and the Yorkshire area, where a competition was held for the first time. Of these eight regions, six were able to take part in the National Final hosted by the French Institute on 18 March. The eight teams present had worked hard to prepare the three set motions, which were challenging in terms of factual knowledge and thinking skills and lent themselves to some fiery debates:

·         On doit pouvoir rire de tout.

·         Il faut empêcher la signature du « Traité Transatlantique de Libre-Echange ».

·         Les gouvernements européens devraient encourager franchement la natalité.

The three adjudicators from the Institute were impressed by the level of French, the quality of the arguments, the intellectual maturity and the debating skills displayed by the participants, all studying French in year 12 or 13.

At the end of the first round, four teams emerged as clear winners. Latymer Upper (North London) and All Saints (York) competed against each other on the motion: “On ne devrait jamais mentir” and came respectively 4th and 3rd. The grand final opposed for the third consecutive year the teams from Westminster and Sevenoaks, who had 15 minutes’ preparation time before debating the motion: La démocratie est une illusion. Their debate was a breath-taking exchange that swept the floor with sheer panache! Deciding on a victor was a difficult task for the adjudicators, but Sevenoaks was finally declared first. You can listen to the debate, as well as the adjudicators’ comments, by following the link below.

Thanks to ISMLA’s continued support and generous sponsorship, we were able to provide refreshments for the participants and to offer dictionaries and book tokens to the winners and runners up.

It was a heated but socially very friendly event that was greatly enjoyed by all, and a unique opportunity for participants to meet their peers and show the best of their French speaking and debating skills to a francophone audience, in the beautiful setting of the French Institute’s salons.

If you are interested in entering some teams for a regional French debating competition and would like to know where the nearest one takes place, or if you are considering organising one in an area where there currently is no such event, please feel free to contact me: . We should look forward to even more participants in 2016!

Hélène May,
St Paul’s Girls’ School


1. Règles des joutes oratoires
2. French debating rules and format
3. Final French debate 2015 (audio file)
4. Feedback 2015 (audio file)