Debating Success for SE Pupils


My name is Eva Mallon; I’m an eighteen year old, upper sixth form student at Coláiste Chaitríona, a fluent Irish speaker and one of the school’s senior prefects.  During the course of studying Irish, English & French for A-level, I have attended St. Patrick’s Grammar School for my French classes.

Each Monday and Wednesday morning, I make my way to St. Patrick’s for the first two periods of the day for lessons; last year with Madame Cleary and this year with Madame McMathon, and on alternating Tuesdays and Thursdays, I attend lessons with Madame Kilpatrick, here at St. Catherine’s. Upon hearing of consortium classes, I initially thought it would be inconvenient for me and going from what essentially is an all-girls school to an all-boys school, was quite daunting.

Walking into St. Patrick’s on the first day, was a very nerve-wracking experience, and meeting an entire class of people I hadn’t met before was interesting to say the least however, we were all quite quiet in the beginning, (and note I say in the beginning…) we didn’t stay that way for too long. In fact, as soon as the class got to know each other, I really started to enjoy the new experience, and getting to and from St. Patrick’s in the mornings proved to be no obstacle.

The French itself was very challenging; the step-up from GCSE to A-level had been more challenging than I anticipated. Nevertheless, after a few months of textbook work, and grammar and vocabulary learning, I could structure a sentence proficiently and knew more tenses and idiomatic expressions than I ever had before.

In year 13 with Mrs Cleary, we studied grammar, translation and listening and in Mrs Kilpatrick’s lessons practiced reading, writing and speaking.  With Miss McMathon we study our novel ‘L’étranger’ by Albert Camus and listening and all other parts of the curriculum are covered by Mrs Kilpatrick. The book for me is especially complicated, yet I enjoy the enthusiasm of the consortium teacher and the novel itself is pure brilliance on Camus’ part. Each year, the department has a language assistant, formerly Céline – from Switzerland- and currently Rosaire – from Brittany, France – who acts as the main instructor for speaking and discussions in French. I remember at the beginning of last year in our first lesson, Céline asked me what I liked to do in my spare time and the only sentence I could remember from GCSE was “Je fais du vélo” which means I cycle!

Since then, my French has come on in leaps and bounds in every aspect. Although I am far from fluent, I feel I have a certain competency, which was particularly enhanced by my experience on the school’s French exchange to Orléans and Paris.

Recently, Miss McMahon entered us into NICILT’s annual French Debate competition, which for me, as a public speaker was an interesting but frightening prospect. Our first heat took place on the 9th December at St. Ronan’s College, Lurgan, in opposition to Lisburn Academy. I acted as team captain along with my three team members, Óisín Darragh, Zenaida Soares and Peter McCann and two substitute debaters Niamh Haughian and Arthur Kamarouski. We won debating the topic «Les réseaux socieaux ne provoquent que l’intimidation au Collège» which means “Social media only provokes bullying at school” and were qualified for the semi-finals and in addition to that, I was awarded ‘Best Speaker’ of the debate.
Our second debate was on the topic, « Les enfants devrait avoir les mêmes droits que les adultes » which means, “Children should have the same rights as adults” despite having to debate twice due to a team drop out we were defeated by Friends School, Lisburn and Limavady High School. However, I was again awarded ‘Best Speaker’ so I was delighted nonetheless.

I am extremely privileged to have been a member of consortium class and I enjoy and value the experience I have gained through my experience of shared education, and hope to continue my passion for language in my future academic endeavoursdebating se.png.

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