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What is the National Essay Contest?

Are you in Grade 10, 11 or 12 (secondaire IV or secondaire V in Quebec) and registered in a French program?

Do you need a little boost to continue your education in French after high school?

Take part in the National Essay Contest from October 2 to December 21, 2018 for the chance to win a scholarship ranging between $1,000 and $12,000 in one of the following post-secondary institutions:


You’ll also have the chance to have your essay read by our celebrity judge!

Magali Harvey’s rise to one of the world’s best women’s fifteens players began in high school, where she graduated from St. Patrick’s High School in Quebec City, Quebec. Having received her first cap with Canada’s Women’s Sevens Team in 2011, Harvey was later on the Canadian side that won a silver medal at the 2013 Women’s Rugby World Cup Sevens. She has also represented her country with the fifteens and was a big reason why Canada also finished second at the 2014 Women’s Rugby World Cup. After her strong performance, in which she finished second in tournament scoring with 61 points and had a highlight reel 87-metre run for a try against France, Harvey was named the 2014 IRB Women’s Player of the Year. Magali is fully bilingual, and she is our Celebrity Judge for this year National Essay Contest.

How to participate?

  • Write a 750-word essay on this year’s theme : 

    “When I was in high school, playing rugby would allow me to relax and to find my balance” says Magali Harvey, member of the Canadian Rugby Team. With unlimited means (time, money, resources…), how would you improve the well-being of high school students?

  • Submit your essay between October and December by filling out our online form.

We strongly encourage you to read the Rules and Regulations as well as the Evaluation Grid before you start writing your essay.


At the time of entry each entrant must indicate on their entry form into which of the two categories below he or she best fits:

Category 1: French Second Language (“FSL”): students whose first language is not French or students who are currently enrolled in Core French, Extended Core French, Basic French, French Immersion, or any other version or type of FSL program, available in their province or territory of residence, and who do not match any of the French First Language criteria.

Category 2: French First Language (“FFL”): students who satisfy one or more of the following criteria:

– whose first language is French;
– who speak, write and comprehend French with native fluency;
– who regularly speak French at home with one or both parents.
– who attend or have attended a French First Language school for more than 3 years within the past 6 years.

What’s next?

  1. Essays will be marked by a panel of French teachers and our celebrity judge, using the Evaluation Grid
  2. Winners will be announced at the beginning of March following the Contest.

If you teach French in Canada and you would like to be a part of our panel of judges, please reach out to us by filling out this form.

Follow these 10 writing tips and win a scholarship for your postsecondary studies!

  1. Read the theme several times to get into it

The worst mistake that we can make while writing an essay is to write off-topic. To avoid that, take some time to make sure that you understand the theme. Read it several times, and if necessary, look up the words that you are not sure about on www.wordreference.com

  1. Make a brainstorm

Start by writing everything that comes to mind in form of a list:

  • Keywords related to the theme (verbs, adjectives, etc.)
  • Stories and anecdotes that you could use as examples
  • Solutions that you would propose
  1. Make a plan!

To write a good essay, you need a solid structure. The best strategy is to make a detailed plan before you start writing. Order your ideas in parts and insert examples. Use your brainstorm to make your plan!

  1. Review your conjugations

Before you start writing, ask yourself, “What tenses will I use? And re-read your notes quickly for those tenses! For example, if you know that you are going to tell anecdotes, you will surely need the imparfait and passé composé. In this year’s theme we ask what you would do in an imaginary situation … you will need conditional present!

Passé composé & imparfait : http://la-conjugaison.nouvelobs.com/fle/l-imparfait-et-le-passe-compose-46.php

Futur proche : http://la-conjugaison.nouvelobs.com/fle/le-futur-proche-16.php

Le conditionnel présent : http://la-conjugaison.nouvelobs.com/regles/conjugaison/conditionnel-present-38.php

  1. Start writing

Keep your plan and the theme in sight. Take breaks from time to time to make sure that you have followed your plan and that you haven’t moved away from the theme.

  1. Write short sentences

Short sentences are more striking; they give a rhythm to your writing. In addition, with short sentences, you have less chances to make mistakes!

  1. Vary your vocabulary

Repetitions can make a text boring. To avoid repeating yourself, you can try to use synonyms (there are synonym dictionaries online), object pronouns, or even change the structure of your sentence!

  1. Diversify your transition words

In order for your writing to be well structured, and for your ideas to be easy to follow and understand, it is important to use transition words and expressions. You can find plenty here:


  1. Work on your punctuation

To be pleasant to read, an essay must be well punctuated. Place commas when you want your reader to pause, and do not overuse exclamation marks or ellipsis…!

  1. Use « targeted readings »

Have you finished writing your essay? Great! Now you will be able to proofread it to make it E-XCE – LLENT! Here is the proofreading strategy that we propose: you will proofread your essay 5 times, and at each proofreading you will concentrate on one aspect in particular.

First proofreading: focus on the meaning of your essay. Is it understandable? You have not forgotten a word? Do your ideas link one another?

Second proofreading: focus on spelling. Are all your words well written? Are you sure of the gender (masculine / feminine) of the words you used? If you have doubts, do a quick search on https://www.larousse.fr/dictionnaires/francais.

Third proofreading: focus on your verbs. Did you use the right tenses? Did you put an S with “Tu” and ENT / ONT with “Ils/Elles”? Do your past participle verbs have the right auxiliary (être / avoir)?

Fourth proofreading: focus on nouns and adjectives. Did you put “S” for plural? Are your feminine adjectives in agreement?

 Fifth proofreading: focus on punctuation. Read your writing out loud. Should you add a few commas? Are some sentences too long?


For more advice, follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to take advantage of our writing tips throughout November!