Some French Universities Now Teaching Classes in English

May 24, 2013

By Ofer Tirosh


A new proposal by French Parliament is overturning a previous law that all but banned universities from teaching classes in languages other than French.  The new approved proposal allows French universities to teach some classes in English, amidst concerns that the proposal could turn French into a “dead language”.

Education unions in France called a strike on Wednesday to protest the proposal but very few teachers took part in the protests. 

"Shall we speak English in this French Parliament one day? ", Daniel Fasquelle, a university professor argued. "This is a very bad signal for French language speakers around the world."

Conservative MP Jacques Myard seconded that notion by saying, "A people that speaks more and more in a foreign language loses its identity more and more. It is not with this mumbo-jumbo that you will penetrate the Chinese, Arab-Muslim or Latin American markets."

Detractors of the proposal were somewhat placated by the wording in the proposal. The proposal basically states that lessons will only be taught in English when they are justified by teaching need. In other words, English classes may not be overly common regardless of the proposal. Detractors saw this language as a safeguard that French universities would not become all English overnight. 

Not everyone was opposed to the new language proposal though. Geneviève Fioraso, the minister for higher education was pleased with the proposal and said it would help France overcome their narrow-minded image.  Contrary to much of the opposition, Fioraso insisted that the new rule would not question the French language and that teaching the French language was still a priority. She insisted the new law would iron out  “de facto inequality.” 

More information about the English Language proposal can be found online.



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