I may have an explanation for this…many French people don’t travel abroad (probably because they don’t have the money)…consequently, they tend to assimilate English to England! When French high school students are asked why they don’t want to learn English, many of them answer the same thing: “What for? I am not planning to live in England”!
England has quite a bad reputation because of its famous “English weather” (cold and rainy).
Learning a language takes a lot of time and efforts. Many people are not willing to make those efforts because they are not motivated…some students also believe that to be able to speak a language fluently, they need to go to that country for some time. It’s perfectly possible to learn a language without even going there! When there is a will, there is a way…providing that there is a strong motivation.
Apparently, French people have decided to improve…In a famous British quality newspaper, an article revealed that international companies had a strong preference in recruiting French and German people because they were the only ones who could speak at least 2 foreign languages, including English.
Languages are a must, even for you Brits
from The Evening Standard
- It used to be the French who couldn’t speak foreign languages. Now, the British lead the pack for linguistic ignorance. Renault conducts its board meetings in English, while French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin happily gives interviews in Spanish; in British politics, former Europe minister Denis MacShane seems to be the only British Member of Parliament capable of speaking French for more than 30 seconds. The reason? Yesterday the National Centre for Languages reported that four out of five state schools no longer require GCSE pupils to learn a foreign language. Strange to report, as newspapers rush to give away free language courses, but the British appear to be turning their backs on language learning. Four years ago, education secretary Estelle Morris announced that she was considering making a foreign language at GCSE optional – it had been compulsory up until then. By the following autumn term, 30 per cent of schools had dropped the requirement. Since then, numbers taking GCSE French and German have fallen. In essence, ministers were telling youngsters- apart from a small academic elite – that they could just do without languages. Everyone understands English if you speak loudly and slowly enough, right?
- But the problem goes further back: it’s a question of mentality too, that of self-centred islanders. At dinner parties, the subject of how rubbish people are at foreign languages causes a furtive ironical smile: it’s a bit embarrassing, but so what? And yet with more and more Britons travelling abroad and buying properties all over Europe, one should expect less awkwardness. It has to start at school. Every British child should consider learning a foreign language like climbing the Everest – one of the most exciting challenges to take on. They won’t unless – like me – they are made to. Do you really think I wanted to learn English and Spanish at age 11 ? But with time, I grew to like all these strange words and sounds, and the even stranger stories of how their native speakers ate and drank. And if Brits don’t learn to do the same, they will pay in more than frustration over restaurant bills they can’t understand and car problems they can’t explain while in Brittany or Tuscany. They will lose out to countries whose businessmen can negotiate in two or three languages as well as their own. It doesn’t matter that English is the world’s most spoken language. We all prefer to deal with people who have made the effort to learn about our culture through its language. In fact, learning languages requires some thoroughly British qualities: perseverance and a sense of humour. You’re well equipped: so get on with it.
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