Skip to comments.War Of Words: France Debates Teaching Courses In English
Posted on 05/25/2013 7:37:43 PM PDT by SeekAndFind
Will teaching in English at France's universities undermine the French language? That's up for debate in the country now, and the argument is heated.
The lower house of parliament approved a measure Thursday that would allow courses to be taught in English, something that is currently against the law.
Those in favor of the proposal say it will attract more international students and improve English language skills of French students. But opponents say the move will only impoverish and marginalize the country's tongue.
In the National Assembly this week, Genevieve Fioraso, the minister for higher education, explained why she believes universities need to start teaching English.
"We need to be able to welcome students from emerging countries like Korea, India and Brazil, to study science, economics and technology," she said. "And they don't come to France now because of the language barrier."
On the other side of the fight, parliamentarian Daniel Fasquelle tried to shock his colleagues.
"And my question is clearly, shall we speak English in this French Parliament one day?" he asked.
Fasquelle and other opponents of the measure say if science and technology are taught in English, the French language will lose vocabulary and gradually cease to be a modern, living language.
His colleague, Pouria Amirshahi, who represents the 150,000 French citizens who live in North and West Africa, says France should not strive to be a second-rate copy of English and American universities. France should work to attract the world's Francophone students.
"It makes no sense. You have in Ivory Coast, in Morocco, in Algeria, in a lot of countries, many people who speak French and who you want to come in France to learn in French sciences, history," he says.
Once the language of diplomacy and the world's elite, French now ranks as the world's eighth-most-spoken language. The Academie Francaise, set up in 1635 as the official guardian of the language, regularly comes up with French alternatives to English tech words. But words like mot diez and ordimobile rarely catch on with a younger generation that prefers to stick with "hashtag" and "smartphone." Even French newspaper Liberation had a front-page headline in English endorsing the measure this week: "Let's do it!"
While a 1994 law bars classes being taught in English from nursery school to university, elite private business schools and French grandes écoles, the equivalent of American Ivy Leagues, have long been teaching in the language of Shakespeare.
Students take a break outside Sciences Po, a grande école in the center of Paris. The school offers one-third of its classes in English, and 40 percent of its student body is from abroad.
Briton Peter Gumbel, who teaches here, says the real problem is not English, but a two-tier system.
"You have the best and the brightest get the full immersion in an international education, including studying abroad," he says, "and then you have the 95 percent who are stuck in a French-ossified system."
Gumbel says he understands French concern over losing its language, but the important thing, he says, is to spread French thinking and ideas. France already attracts many different people, including international students, he says. And even if they're taking classes in English, they're also learning French.
"So it's not that just by teaching in English you completely cut off French as a language. On the contrary, you get more people interested in France, more people interested in the ideas that French intellectuals have," he says. "They get passionate about the place. And so France carries on living in their imaginations when they've left France again."
That, says Gumbel, is the very definition of soft power.
Other than Kissing, Michelin, Rossignol and wine, what is there to save?
The Mosques? /sarc
The Mosques? /sarc
Given that I really like my (recently acquired, ~10 yr old) 200cm Salomon AK Rockets, I’d provisionally add Salomon to the list of world wide beneficial French contributions to society.
When i was in Europe 40 years ago, France was the only country that was hard to get around in due to language barriers.....
In the others Germany, Spain, Switzerland, Italy some people could speak English or tried but not France...
Germany was the easiest to travel in...they learnt English in school so most people spoke it well..
Ugh, another attempt to destroy native cultures in Europe. I can say this as an English speaker, this is an abomination. France is a country in which French is spoken. If these students want to go there, learn the language. Maybe France should focus on the jobs problem with its own people before enticing foreigners.
Hollande’s approval ratings about to take another pummel. There will be a backlash. He will serve one term.
One of these days all the countries except for the United States will be speaking English.
“In the others Germany, Spain, Switzerland, Italy some people could speak English or tried but not France...”
I was there a bit after you. I now believe that they actually do know English fairly well, as they have to speak it to the rest of the continent - but they WILL NOT speak it to help others - it’s an attitude thing. Basically, don’t bother coming here unless you learn some French. Well, I didn’t, and I NEVER went back.
It was still like that in 1989, when I visited there. I only ran into a couple of people who knew even a few English words.
Fact is, English (for better of worse) is the global language of planet Earth. It's just a fact.
French is a beautiful language. Is there really a need to teach in English at universities?
When I was an exchange student in France back in the 1970s, I was impressed by the time they spent learning English—7 years by the time they graduated high school (which was a lot more rigorous than any American high school). Students who have specialized needs for English—for instance, because it is almost required to publish scientific papers—already have a great foundation in the language.
I remember a woman asking me if I thought French was being overly influenced by English. Back in the 1970s, I would have said no. I would still say that—taking on a few foreign words is a normal part of language growth. But they shouldn’t throw away their unique and beautiful language for some perceived advantage.
France wants to teach classes in English....while in the US we have to teach classes not in English because some folks (many who are already citizens) are either too lazy or too dumb to learn English