Modalités de l’oral
Le candidat dispose de 20 minutes de préparation. Le texte qui lui est proposé est un article récent qui traite de sujets sociaux, culturels ou politiques. La prise de notes se fait directement sur le texte (interlignes doubles), les brouillons sont interdits. Le candidat est invité à donner un titre au document.
L’épreuve dure 20 minutes : le candidat devra restituer les enjeux fondamentaux du texte, en faire un commentaire et aborder les thématiques économiques ou sociétales que revêt le texte (environ 10 minutes). L’objectif de la présentation qui suit est de vous montrer quelles sont les attentes du jury quant au commentaire du texte à l’oral.
La partie »questions – échange libre avec l’examinateur » (10 minutes) ne sera pas abordée dans ce corrigé.
Article donné à l’oral
They won’t admit it, but there is a pervasive idea among some Londoners, particularly the adopted ones, that the cleverest people from the north of England all end up in the capital, like particularly urbane moths drawn to the irresistible bright lights of the big city.
Exiled northerners are terrible for it, flaunting their Lancastrian or Yorkshire credentials whenever there is an opportunity, wanging on about the Wigans and Bradfords they left behind at least 20 years ago. The truth, of course, is they now make only annual, fleeting visits to see family members who lacked the wherewithal to get out themselves.
The Brexit result confirmed everything these people think about England’s upper half. Idiots, they thought, when Sunderland returned the first decisive Brexit vote. Hasn’t it occurred to those halfwits on Wearside that Nissan might pull out from the Sunderland plant where they employ 7,000 locals? Are they too stupid to foresee the knock-on effect for the 40,000 jobs in the wider UK supply chain?
The mantra goes that those who voted to leave are those who have the most to lose when Britain exits the European Union. But to say that out loud implies that anyone who voted that way hadn’t bothered to think through the consequences. It is a pretty insulting supposition.
I went to visit AV Dawson, a logistics company in the Nissan supply chain, which lost a string of multimillion-pound, 15-year contracts in the immediate aftermath of the referendum result. Most of the workers receiving and delivering steel to make car bonnets at the Sunderland Nissan plant voted to leave. And of course they considered whether Nissan was likely to up sticks. Yet when Nissan’s boss made threats to leave, back in late September, they didn’t take it seriously.
“In my personal opinion it was scaremongering,” a thoughtful 24-year-old crane operator told me. “I always thought that the quality of work that we can produce in England is much greater than anywhere else. So if they really want top quality, they are not going to go over just a couple of quid.” He felt buoyed by the result. “It did make you feel like you counted, this time around,” he said.
Instead of sneering, people need to understand why most of the north, apart from some inner cities and a few wealthy rural exceptions, voted to leave. Could it be that they are fed up with receiving crumbs when London and the south-east get whole loaves? Spending on schools, arts, transport infrastructure and so much more is vastly weighted in London’s favour.
Many northerners look at London getting £50m for a frivolous garden bridge while they commute on juddering “pacer” trains, literally bus chassis welded on to ancient wheelbases. We keep hearing about the possibility of a “crossrail for the north”, improving east-west links. But what did the chancellor really trumpet in his autumn statement? A new “Varsity” rail line between … Oxford and Cambridge. If there is any track left over when they’re finished, perhaps they’ll send it up north.
Proposition de corrigé
Last year, the United Kingdom decided to cut its ties with the European Union. In England, London led the vote to remain in the EU, while the rest of the country ― especially the north ― voted strongly to leave. This article, which was published in the British daily The Guardian in the wake of Brexit, deals with the north-south divide in Britain. I offer to sum up briefly the main points of the text and to see how Londoners view northerners, and why some people voted out. Then, I will focus on the main economic and cultural differences between the north and the south, and try and explain why the social and economic geography is so polarised.
|Vous commencerez votre présentation par une phrase d’accroche qui permettra de mettre l’article en contexte. L’introduction sera brève et concise, mais elle mentionnera la nature du document, le thème majeur abordé et la problématique du commentaire (les grands axes de réflexion).|
In this article, the journalist explains that people in London have always looked down on northerners. Though they are proud of their northern roots, Londoners sometimes sneer at people up north, and consider them to be idiots. This patronising attitude is especially true as regards Brexit: they don’t understand why northerners opted for a self-sabotaging »leave » vote when »remain » was the only sensible alternative. Isn’t it like turkeys voting for Christmas? In the event of a hard Brexit, thousands of jobs will be at stake in the UK, particularly in the traditional industrial heartlands of the country.
In Sunderland, for instance, a vast majority of people working at the Nissan factory voted to leave the EU, disregarding the fact that their employer might transfer production out of the UK. But according to the journalist, the decision those people made had nothing to do with stupidity or ignorance. They gave the matter careful thought and reckoned it was no use worrying: they did not believe the doom and gloom prophecies; they would not be intimidated into a remain vote by »project fear ». For once, they could make a difference and be heard by the Westminster elite.
The journalist argues that many northerners feel isolated and let down: England is a centralised country, and the gap in infrastructure spending between the north and the south is huge. There is a lot of resentment, anger and frustration because whole areas have been forgotten and left behind. For example, the railway system is catastrophic, the transport links between towns are poor, and commuters still have to ride »pacer » trains which were created long ago and which are notoriously uncomfortable. By comparison, London is planning to build a garden bridge that will cost £50m. The end of the article is quite ironic, because the journalist implies that for Londoners, Cambridge and Oxford are in the north … Before I move on to my commentary, I would like to say that …
|Dans la première partie de votre intervention, vous devez faire une synthèse de l’article et montrer que vous avez une vue d’ensemble du document et de sa structuration logique. Il est donc impératif de faire preuve de clarté et de discerner l’essentiel du secondaire. Une fois les idées principales repérées, il s’agit de les reformuler, sans faire de copier-coller ou de paraphrase. On se gardera bien de mélanger opinion personnelle et idées du journaliste : la synthèse est un exercice où vous devez être sélectif et objectif. Faites comme si vous présentiez le document à quelqu’un qui ne l’aurait pas lu.|
… if I had to choose a title for the text, I would probably go for »A Tale of Two Englands », because I think this allusion to Charles Dickens sums up the social and economic disparities between the north and the south.
|Pensez à proposer un titre au document.|
Which leads me to wonder why there is such a gap within the same country. Two centuries ago, the Industrial Revolution enabled the UK to become the world’s leading power. At that time, the »Workshop of the World » was not the People’s Republic of China, but Britain, more particularly the north of England. A lot of manpower was needed, so many towns witnessed a mass exodus from rural populations. Industrialization gave rise to urbanization, and led to unprecedented material prosperity.
And yet, since the shutdown of the coal-mining industry in the Thatcher years, since the beginning of de-industrialization in the 1970s, northern towns have been in constant decline. The unemployment rate is much higher than in the South, a lot of people are on benefits, and many middle-sized towns are slowly rotting away in what is known as Great Britain’s »Rust Belt ». Some northerners are going through a kind of identity crisis because all the local institutions (pubs, cinemas, shops, post offices …) are disappearing one after the other, whole streets of terraced houses are boarded up as if some towns had become ghost towns. Those people turned to UKIP and voted out because they felt abandoned and neglected.
Brexit sent shock waves across Europe, and most Londoners were taken aback by the result of the vote. They did not expect their side to lose because they live in a dynamic city and are not always aware of the plight of the working class in the north. It seems that the capital has thrived at the expense of northerners ― so much so that Gordon Brown said that the United Kingdom was »united in name only », as if England had actually become two countries.
|Le commentaire doit montrer que vous avez une certaine connaissance du monde qui vous entoure et des sujets d’actualité : que pouvez-vous apporter de plus à ce document ? Il s’agit de valeur ajoutée personnelle, mais vous devez garder à l’esprit le sujet dont l’article traite. A tout moment, vous avez le droit d’exprimer votre opinion personnelle mais celle-ci ne se suffit jamais à elle seule. Le commentaire ne doit pas être improvisé, sous peine d’être un assemblage malheureux de lieux communs peu utiles. Evitez le pour ou contre, souvent simpliste, et fuyez les commentaires qui ressemblent à une récitation du cours.|
In conclusion, one could say that England was divided even before the result of the Brexit vote. Which is why many wonder if the country will not fall apart in the near future …
|La conclusion est indispensable, au même titre que l’introduction, aussi peut-il être sage de ne pas la bâcler. Elle doit brièvement faire le bilan de ce que vous avez dit et déboucher si possible sur une question plus large.|
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