French higher education system is quite singular: besides traditional universities (following Bologna Process scheme with Bachelor (3 years), Master (2 years) and PhD (3 years)), there are so-called grandes écoles – mostly in the business and engineering fields. To enter a grande école, one must traditionally attend classes préparatoires.

One distinctive feature of these classes prépa is the significance of frequent colles (1 every two weeks per student and discipline – sometimes also written khôlles), which generally consist of 1 hour oral examination, where a couple of undergrads solve a problem in front of an examiner – the so-colled colleur.

Colleurs are mostly professors teaching in classe prépa. However they can also be university assistant professors, high-school teachers, PhD-candidates, or post-doc lecturing on their part time.

Question: What is the most appropriate translation of "colleur" into English?

("TA" or "tutor" both seem too broad in my opinion.)

  • The term TA (and "undergrads") usually refer to university-level settings. I wouldn't use them in the context of pre-university teaching. – Cape Code May 4 '17 at 16:56
  • How this is different from "examiner"? – svavil May 4 '17 at 16:57
  • @svavil I'd say it would be too vague, or doesn't sound (for me, as foreigner) as a proper job title... I might however be wrong! – ebosi May 4 '17 at 16:59
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    @CapeCode: I understand. However, classes prépa are not "pre-university" per se - it's rather a parralel track, since most classes prépa student don't do to university. Students in "classes prépa" are at the same level as first and second-year bachelor students. – ebosi May 4 '17 at 17:01
  • @ebo If examiner is too vague, you can always add some complementary information in the job title, e.g., the discipline or the lycée. This also gives you the opportunity to give a brief description of what khôlles are, what topics were treated, etc. – PatW May 5 '17 at 6:20

I would suggest using the official title and then adding a brief sentence describing the job duties. This way you provide ask the information in an accurate and accessible way. Having to look up a job title is not a big deal when evaluating foreigners.

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    I agree. The job sounds particular enough that mapping it to job titles in universities that don't have anything comparable is only bound to confuse. – xLeitix Dec 9 '19 at 15:45
  • I think that’s the best option too. I have never really seen something similar outside the classes prépa in France (I was in classe prépa myself). For the job duties I would write something like "Examiner for weekly oral interrogations in small groups (x hours and y students in total, over z months)." – Guillaume Brunerie Dec 10 '19 at 15:48

In English universities, the equivalent exam is usually called a "viva", short for "viva voce". We do not have a specific word for a person who assesses oral exams though, I'm afraid, so "viva examiner" is probably the best you're going to get.

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  • But isn't the "viva" normally the PhD defense? If that's the case, "viva examiner" sounds like an opponent in a PhD defense (i.e., something completely different). – xLeitix Dec 9 '19 at 15:44
  • @xLeitix a viva can be used for any exam/assessment which involves some delivery and q&a - that style is not limited to PhD afaik... – Solar Mike Dec 9 '19 at 16:12
  • @xLeitix As Mike says, a PhD always involves a viva, but not all vivas are for PhDs. My ex-wife had vivas for some of her undergraduate philosophy modules, and for her final-year project. – Graham Dec 9 '19 at 20:47

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