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June 15, 2004
Some stale non-news about the teaching of French in Britain

This is stale news, because it comes from the "in fact" bit in the May 2004 issues of Prospect (paper only). But I have only just now noticed it, and it interested me a lot:

Britain is now the only major country in the world where French is the main foreign language taught in schools.

This was apparently in The Times, on April 8th 2004.

So, we are, linguistically, the least Francophobic major nation?

But think about it some more. Everyone else either has English as their first language, or else teaches English as a foreign language. So all that is really being said here is that English as a foreign language is universally more popular than French as a foreign language in all "major" nations (which excludes French ex-colonies), which we all surely knew, plus that Britain takes French more seriously than Australia, the USA, etc., ditto. So, no real proof of British pro-Frenchness. Just a trick of the facts, you might say. It was obvious all along.

That may be it for today. I had grief with my internet connection earlier today, only recently rectified, and am soon out for the evening.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait at 04:14 PM
Category: Languages

I find this very surprising considering French is one of Canada's two official languages. Every English public school in Canada offers French as its default second language option. I believe that every school district offers a French immersion option (ie if you're an English-speaking family you can opt to send your student to school where French is the language of instruction).
Other languages such as Mandarin, Spanish etc are found in larger schools but French is always available.

Comment by: Gwen on June 15, 2004 06:43 PM

So I assume this means the non-francophone parts of Canada, Belgium and Switzerland (though maybe they chose English over French in Switzerland, making it the de facto "lingua franca" of the country (pun intended) ) don't count as major?

Comment by: Gustavo Lacerda on June 16, 2004 06:43 PM

I suspect that the distinction being observed is that between teaching French as "the main foreign language" and teaching French as "the main second language", since French is not a foreign language in Canada.

Comment by: james on June 17, 2004 04:34 PM
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