The “World’s Biggest Dictation” took place on the Champs-Élysées in Paris on Sunday, the 4th of June. Dora Ramos and Colette Gélinas, General Councillors of the Daughters of Jesus, were among the participants.
This event, a world first, received over 50,000 applications. 5,100 people were drawn at random to take part in one of the three dictations, representing around 1,700 participants per exercise.
On the programme were three themed dictations read by personalities from the worlds of culture, literature and sport. The first dictation was a “a classic dictation from our childhood“, the second “a contemporary dictation“, and the third, “a sporting dictation“. Dora and I were chosen for the second dictation.
Take up your pens!
When the time came, each participant was given a pen and an exam paper. When the bell rang, as if to signal the end of playtime, the “giant classroom” fell silent. The teacher read out the text once so we could get a feel for it. The text was then reread slowly and everyone worked on their writing. After a final rereading of the text, the collective correction was carried out with the help of the big screen and moderated by the journalist, Rachid Santaki, commonly known as “Monsieur Dictée“. First prizes went to those who had 3 mistakes or less. Dora and I were delighted with our results, as were all the other participants, and we were awarded the book “Eugène and I” by the author Katherine Pancol.
A new world record
The aim of the first dictation was to enter the number of participants in the Guinness Book of World Records. The official judge, Mrs Anouk de Timary, explained that only the “active participation” of the participants would be counted: “You need at least one hundred words corresponding to the text for the participation to count“. In this way, 1397 schoolchildren were able to use an extract from the text, La Mule du Pape, by Alphonse Daudet, to set a new record as the world’s biggest dictation.
Why did we sign up for this dictation?
The adventure began when Dora received an official invitation on her smartphone. Interested, daring and keen to take steps to improve her French, she didn’t hesitate to sign up. And what a pleasant surprise! Dora was selected and had the opportunity to register a companion. Without really knowing what the role of accompanying person entailed, I naively filled in the form. The next day, I received confirmation of my participation in the event.
The “great dictation of the Champs-Elysées” was an opportunity to test our spelling but also to join in with this multitude of people from many countries and all walks of life to celebrate the words of the French language. As the organisers reminded us, mistakes were allowed. The important thing was to participate and have fun. Learning a language makes it easier to integrate into society. For Dora and me, this experience of living together, at the foot of the Arc de Triomphe, will remain engraved in our memories.
Srs Dora Ramos and Colette Gélinas
General Councillors, Daughters of Jesus