French Test or Testing French

Just a short post today. I have been rather snowed under with article commissions recently. I’m not complaining – after all, it’s partly how I earn my corn. But it doesn’t leave much time for other things.

If you were following back then, you might remember that last year I entered a national competition called Les Timbrés de l’Orthographe. It aimed to find the people in France who master French grammar best. You had to answer 30 questions about the French language and grammar, on the basis of which you were selected (or not) to go through to the regional finals.

I was one of the 10,000 (out of 20,000) last year who got through the first round. The regional finals, at Toulouse in my case, involved a series of multiple choice questions plus a fiendish dictation. I fell at the dictation hurdle because I simply couldn’t fathom some of the words delivered in a Toulousain accent. Five hundred people went on to the national finals held at Paris in June.

The same competition is taking place this year, run by a publishing company and sponsored by La Poste among others. I decided to have another stab at it and heard yesterday that I had been picked for the regional finals again, to take place in March. This time 25,000 people entered and 10,000 have gone through.

Actually, there isn’t a great deal of merit in getting through at this stage. You can find most of the answers to the 30 multiple choice questions either in grammar books or on the Internet. However, there were a few trick questions, too.

If you’re interested in having a go for fun, the questions are here. They have published the answers as well, here.

I expect that my chances of getting any further are roughly equivalent to those of Hell freezing over. However, as a foreigner, I feel some pride in mastering French to the extent that I can get through the qualifying round of a national competition.

It means I get the chance of a day out in Toulouse as well.

P.S. Last year I received two emails: one said I had got through, the other said I hadn’t. It appeared that the first was the one to go by since I was on the list when I turned up for the regional final. It was therefore with some trepidation that I opened the second email that arrived from the organisers today (Sunday). Fortunately, it simply repeated the contents of the email I received on Friday. It appears I really am in the regional finals. Watch this space… 

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  1. Good on you for participating!

    I gave one of my french students the first page of David Copperfield to read on Dickens anniversary recently and he responded by giving me a french novel to read, I had to laugh, its an Austrian author Stefan Zweig, translated from German to French. I’m reading, just not sure how much I am absorbing.


  2. There’s no way I’d get the right answer for some of those questions (I’ve no idea how many mistakes are in that sentence – it looks fine to me until someone points them out!). Well done and good luck to the next round!


    • I have to admit that I squeaked through by sheer good luck this time. I went back over my answers before submitting them and noticed that I had missed a couple of things. It’s not always obvious – especially if you aren’t French! And probably even if you are. The organisers posted the answers before I had the result and when I looked at them I was convinced I had got several wrong. Apparently, I hadn’t. I’m sure I won’t get any further, but I’ll enjoy it anyway!


  3. I did the test and was quite chuffed to see thaqt I hadn’t forgotten my French!
    I think a dictee would always have sunk me though!
    Good luck in the next round.


  4. I think that’s brilliant. And why should you not go further? Positive thinking my dear!
    I’ve never heard of this competition, I love that sort of thing. Will you provide a link well in advance next time so that we can join in and get selected with you?


    • Well, I really don’t expect to get to the last 500 of 25,000! But I enjoy it anyway. Yes, I’ll certainly post up the link next time. I just entered this year by the skin of my teeth before the deadline since I had only just found out they were running it again. The competition started up again only last year under new management after a hiatus of several years. It looks as if it will be a regular thing.


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