Year 13 French speaking winner Lara Endersby, left, with Year 12 winner Lola Beinert: Photo: Judene Edgar.

Vive la New Caledonia

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It was a bittersweet win for Year 13 winner Lara Endersby at this years’ Alliance Francaise regional Concours Oral (French-speaking competition), held at the New Life Centre.

The Nelson College for Girls student won the Year 12 regional and national Concours Oral competitions last year, meaning she was eligible to compete, but not eligible to represent the region at this years’ nationals.

It means that second-place Year 13 student, Waimea College’s Daniel Leaper, is heading to Wellington in a little over two weeks’ time, with a chance to win the grand prize of an all-expenses-paid two-week trip to New Caledonia.

“It’s such a generous prize and such a good way to get people involved,” says Lara. “It was a really fun day and nice to be able to speak French all day.”

Last year, both regional winners, Lara (Year 12) and Georgia Dunn, the Year 13 winner from Waimea College, went on to win the nationals and the trip to New Caledonia.

With a one-in-seven chance at the nationals, Daniel’s eyes are squarely on the prize.

“Sean [Reilly who placed third] and I have been working really hard.”

“We’ve been going to the Alliance Francaise café conversations at La Gourmandise on Fridays with Lara to prepare.”

“It’s very cool winning – it’s been on my mind all week.”

Also heading up to the Concours Oral nationals is first-time entrant, Year 12 winner Lola Beinert, from Nelson College for Girls.

“It was awesome,” she says.

“I didn’t know what to expect because I hadn’t done it before, but everyone was really nice and made me feel comfortable.”

For the 54 students from across the top of the south it is a true day of French immersion.

One-by-one the students are ushered into a room where they meet two judges who get them to read and explain text and pictures in French to assess their conversational level.

The rest of the day is spent singing, playing games and competing in quizzes – all in French.

Prizes are awarded to the top three for each year level with the top Year 12 and Year 13 students representing the region at the nationals.

Alliance Francaise has been hosting the awards for 20 years.

They are part of a worldwide network, dedicated to encouraging interest in the French language, culture and literature.

The group is open to anyone interested in all things French with the aim of connecting people through language and culture.