France Takes an Initiative to Enhance Poor Language Skills of Students

Foreign languages have been creating a greater impact on the education system of most of the countries. Be it the United States, Europe, United Kingdom, or Australia, foreign language immersion programs have been gaining popularity for a serious development of a second language amongst the students.

On a similar note, the France government also unveiled a drive to enhance the ability of the primary school children to speak foreign languages, where the students will be encouraged to watch cartoons in English.

On Wednesday, a report outlining measures came in as an attempt to improve lacklustre performance of France on the linguistic front.

The country was placed on 15th rank out the 16, in a Europe-wide survey on how well a foreign language is taught in a place. It was also slightly higher for a second foreign language.

The French education minister, Jean-Michel Blanquer told RMC radio, “We know perfectly well that if our Scandinavian neighbours are so good at English it is because they watch films in their original language.” He also added that the state TV would be encouraged to follow suit for children’s programmes.

Moreover, recommendations will also include teaching a range of subjects including science, mathematics and history in English, and other languages.

Blanquer said, “We must be able to use new technology, and also be capable of giving lessons in other subjects in other languages and extend this learning beyond school.”

The report was co-written by British-born journalist Alex Taylor. She is a polyglot who is popular in France for presenting a multilingual news programme with subtitles called Continentales in the 1990s.

In France, children are introduced to the basics of English from the age of six. However, the teachers often lack language training and are far from fluent.

A language emeritus professor, Christian Puren said that part of the problem is historically insular approach to foreign languages.

He told Le Journal du Dimanche, “Our country inherited a dominant language at one point and thought at the time it was up to others to speak French. In the name of the French exception, we had to resist the English invasion. So languages are little present in our environment.”

The French fear of failure is also another issue.

Co-author of the report Chantal Manes said, “We aim for perfection and as a result, pupils are often inhibited.”

The report also suggests to introduce pre-university international language certification, as well as developing bilingual classes and “European” sections in schools.

One of the key campaign of the French President Emmanuel Macron was to improve education, including the language skills.

Last year, during a speech at the Sorbonne said that his aim for all the students in France was to spend six months abroad. A fluent English speaker, Macron has been a victim of facing criticism for delivering speeches in the language of Shakespeare.

Will the promises of the President come true, and will France emerge in the language education amongst the other countries?

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