France to debate introduction of more English-speaking courses

Didn't realise English was banned in French universities in the first place.

Latest from The Telegraph:

Plans to ease a ban on the use of English in French universities will be debated on Wednesday with unions threatening to strike in protest at a measure some claim will turn French into a “dead language”.

Under a 1994 “Toubon” law defending the French language, French must be used in classrooms from right through

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nursery to university, barring lessons in a foreign language and visits from foreign guest teachers.

The law also obliges public bodies to find French alternatives to Anglicisms, such as “mercatique” for “marketing”.

Geneviève Fioraso, the Minister for Higher Education, wants to ramp up courses in English, warning that otherwise universities will eventually end up with “five people sitting around a table discussing Proust”. The measure, she said, is aimed at increasing the number of foreign students at French universities from the current level of 12 percent of the total to 15 percent by 2020.

But it has ignited a storm of protest from language purists, including the influential Academie Francaise, set up in 1635 and the official guardian of the language. Courriel, a French language defence association, even branded it “linguistic assassination”.

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Now several leading unions in the education sector have threatened to strike on Wednesday, when a parliamentary debate over the proposal opens, with even some members of the ruling Socialist party opposing the plan.

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About The Author

Kenneth is Director of Euroasia. He is passionate about languages and cultures.