BON! Bien fait! Bon travail! to the boys who are spelling out success — in French.

Alex Gao and Matthew Cavalier are through to the national final of the French Spelling Bee competition — an even more challenging take on the popular English Spelling Bee craze.

The two went head-to-head with more than 2,000 students from other schools in the North West Final with Matthew coming second and Alex third.

And in this contest the Bolton School boys found themselves having to translate the English world into French, spell it out using the French alphabet complete with the correct accents over the corresponding letter in just 60 seconds.

Each also had to remember whether a noun was masculine or feminine.

Alex, aged 12, from Haslingden and Matthew Cavaliere, aged 11, from Bradshaw, said they were not fazed by taking part in a foreign language Spelling Bee. Alex said: “We thought it would be fun. It started out as a class competition, which we won.

Matthew added: “We then went through to the regional final, and were in the top three to get to go on to the national final.

“It’s really exciting to be through to the finals! I rang my parents on the way home to tell them straight away.”

The competition is designed to practise and improve young people’s vocabulary, spelling and memory skills in a foreign language.

Alex said: “The newest 50 words were hard to learn, but there weren’t really any that caught me out.

“I just practise a lot.”

Matthew added that he prepared for the competition twice a day.

He said: “On the way to school in the car I go through the list, and then again before bed every day.”

But the two admitted they did feel “a bit nervous” in the heats and “especially at the regionals, as there were lots of people watching”.

Matthew added: “We’re really looking forward to the trip with school and staying in a hotel.

“We’re going down to Cambridge University for the final.

“We’re most nervous about the competition — we won’t know who else will be there until we get there, or what their standard will be like.

“The only person we know will the other finalist from our region — I came second and Alex came third, so the person who came first will be there.”

When asked if they could win — the answer was a resounding “yes”.