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Thursday, 17 June 2010

Why speaking French is important - BBC5 on17/06

I participated yesterday in a debate at the BBC5 broadcast nationally over the following subject: a former foreign minister Chris Bryant stated that we should all learn mandarin and French has become useless.

The debate was moderated by the radio presentator Tony Livesey

Of course I went to the studio full of arguments and I did not need long to think before I came across with the following points.
- French is the language of culture, diplomaty, history, gastronomy and romance, that grew over more than a thousand years
- So is it an economic fashion to learn now mandarin as China is effectively expanding and we do recognise the success .and results .. then will we be learning a decade afterwards the neighbourhing languages? and so on?
- French is a global language, spoken by 200 million people around the world and in > 50 countries and over 5 continents.
- French opens the door to more languages .... once you know the language you can easily get onto the other European languages such as Spanish, Italian or Portuguese ... so learning ONE language ... and you get THREE!
- Also if you are going to start onto a course be assured that the learning curve of French language is relatively fast, faster than most of the other languages

During the debate a few persons called in the station and shared their views. A school teacher observed that it was very challenging to introduce mandarin at school for small children. The main language remained French, Spanish and German.

Do comment with your experience and thoughts!

I look forward to hearing from you



Bill Chapman said...

My view is that learning any language is worth doing, although life is simply too short to learn them all. Chris Bryant was right to ask which language we are teaching and why. However his suggestions have limited value. Learn Mandarin, and you’re tongue –tied in Japan. Learn Portuguese and you can’t even ask for a loaf of bread in Germany. Learn Arabic and you are reduced to miming in Russia. The obvious solution would be to make wider use of Esperanto.

Esperanto hasn't yet gained the recognition it deserves. However, all things considered, it has actually done amazingly well. In just over 120 years, it has managed to grow from a drawing-board project with just one speaker in one country to a complete and living natural language with around 2,000,000 speakers in over 120 countries and a rich literature and cosmopolitan culture, with little or no official backing and even bouts of persecution. It hasn't taken the world by storm - yet - but it's slowly but surely moving in that direction, with the Internet giving it a significant boost in recent years.

Brian Barker said...

Chris Bryant raises the question on which language should be taught in British schools.

I see that President Obama wants everyone to learn another language, however which one should it be?

The British learn French, the Australians study Japanese, and the Americans prefer Spanish. Yet this leaves Russian, Mandarin Chinese and Arabic, out of the equation.

It is time to move forward and discuss the subject of a common international language, taught worldwide, in all schools and in all nations. As a native English speaker, my vote is for Esperanto.

Please look at A glimpse of Esperanto can be seen at