French Language Blog

Defending My Thesis In French Posted by on Sep 21, 2016 in Culture

Last week j’ai passé ma soutenance de mémoire (I defended my thesis). After working hard on mon mémoire, everything came down to un exposé (a presentation) in front of mes professeurs (my professors).

"no comments" by Mónica Pinheiro on Flickr. Licensed under BY-NC 2.0.

no comments” by Mónica Pinheiro on Flickr. Licensed under BY-NC 2.0.

La soutenance is the last step in completing un master (a master’s). Finding a concise way to present all la recherche et la problématique can be un vrai casse-tête (a real headache).

On top of fighting l’angoisse de la page blanche, there is all the usual stress leading up to l’exposé. De plus (what’s more) it’s hard to know what sounds right when you’re not un locuteur natif (a native speaker).

When I finally walked into the room and begin talking, j’étais tellement fatigué (I was so tired) that I didn’t have any energy left to be nervous.

I started mon exposé by excusing any mistakes I might make:

Madames, Messieurs, bonjour. Je suis conscient du fait que j’ai un accent. Si jamais vous ne me comprenez pas, n’hésitez pas de me le dire et je peux répéter ce que j’ai dit.

Ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon. I am aware of the fact that I have an accent. If you cannot understand me, don’t hesitate to let me know and I can repeat what I have said.

I had practiced ma soutenance plus de cinquante fois (more than fifty times). Once I started I did not stop until l’exposé was finished.

When mes professeurs started asking me questions, les heures de recherche (the hours of research) paid off when I knew how to answer every question they asked.

C’était terminé
It was over

I had once last thing to say before leaving:


Thank you for your attention

A few days later I was happy to learn that j’ai validé mon master (I successfully completed my master’s) !

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About the Author: John Bauer

John Bauer is an enthusiast for all things language and travel. He currently lives in France where he's doing his Master's. John came to France four years ago knowing nothing about the language or the country, but through all the mistakes over the years, he's started figuring things out.


  1. Bonita Christianson:


  2. Nancy Shalen:

    Felicitations! (excuse le manque d’accent – c’est l’ordinateur)

  3. Myles Genest:

    Mes felicitations aussi. Malgre mom nom francais, I am not fluent in French, and I very much appreciate votre messages.

  4. Errol:


    • John Bauer:

      @Errol Merci Errol ! 😀

  5. Taghreed:


    can you please share your knowledge about tips of thesis defense in another post.

    • John Bauer:

      @Taghreed Merci Taghreed ! That sounds like a good topic! Thanks for the idea 😀