Friday, November 12, 2004
If wishes were horses. . .
'Compulsory' English lessons spark anger in France
By Kim Willsher in Paris
An official report suggesting that French children should be forced to learn English in school from the age of eight has provoked an outcry among nationalists, teachers and unions.
posted by Mark Butterworth |
The report follows a study showing that France's pupils have a "mediocre" command of English compared with many of their European neighbours but has provoked anger among members of the ruling light-of-centre UMP Party.
"This is an error. English may be the most widely spoken language today but that's not going to last," said Jacques Myard MP. "Spanish is gaining ground in America as well as Chinese and Japanese. If we have to make one language compulsory it should be Arabic.
The move comes just two weeks after the French president, Jacques Chirac, described the spread of English as a "disaster". France is suffering national disquiet about the decline of the language of Moliere in European institutions.
Jacques Legendre, a UMP member of the Senat upper parliamentary house, who wrote a report last year on the teaching of languages in French schools, said: "It is legitimate to include a foreign language as one of the base curriculum subjects, but not English."
It examined the levels of English spoken among 15- and 16-year-old pupils in France and in six European countries - Sweden, Finland, Norway, Holland, Denmark and Spain - where English is compulsory in primary schools.
It found the French youngsters were "relatively mediocre" and well behind teenagers in the other countries.