Hah! Compulsory English in France!

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Abdul Alhazred
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Hah! Compulsory English in France!

Post by Abdul Alhazred »

In the (UK) Telegraph:

<a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jh ... world.html"> Gallic outrage over call for all pupils to learn English</a>
... But his conclusion that children should leave school having mastered English as "a language of international communication", was sufficient to cause indignation in a country that is troubled by its waning influence in the world. ...
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Post by Loon »

Great.

Now if US foreign languages classes were any good...
I guess there he chose to err on the side of more votes. -[size=75]Grammatron[/size]

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Abdul Alhazred
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Post by Abdul Alhazred »

Loon wrote:Great.

Now if US foreign languages classes were any good...
It's a real problem. Even otherwise good schools don't take foreign language learning seriously enough in the USA.

Other than Spanish, few USAians speak a foreign language. And that's "street Spanish", we're not talking about literacy.
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Post by Quester_X »

You should meet my friend. She was born in America, but lived in Equador for a while and learned fluent Spanish. She took a Spanish literature class last year, where they read classic novels and other literary works. And this year she went to France, where she's learning a third language. She's incredible!
As for me, I took Latin I and II in high school, and Spanish I and II last year, and I can't remember how to say anything useful. Yeah, I suck at learning other languages, apparently!
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exarch
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Post by exarch »

Try living in a Dutch speaking country :/

Hey, I do speak Dutch, English, French and German (German is minimal though) and I studied Japanese for a while but never got past the basics (nobody to practice with).

On my still-to-learn list is Spanish.
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iain
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Post by iain »

Yep, when I lived in Holland I was always fairly embarassed about knowing about one-and-a-quarter languages when even the cleaners could get by in English better than I could in Dutch.

Being fluent in three or four languages is wholly unexceptional in the Netherlands and Scandinavia.

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Post by ratbag »

iain wrote:Yep, when I lived in Holland I was always fairly embarassed about knowing about one-and-a-quarter languages when even the cleaners could get by in English better than I could in Dutch.

Being fluent in three or four languages is wholly unexceptional in the Netherlands and Scandinavia.
No Doubts about it. English is the Lingua Franca

Rat

where did you live in Dutch-land Iain? I spent a year commuting between Essex and Utrecht. My 70 yr old landlady spoke better English than I did Dutch. Its a very humbling experience :oops:
Rat

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Post by Grammatron »

You mean not everyone speaks 3.5 languages? Huh, weird.

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Post by NightG1 »

Ever hear the old joke:

Q. What do you call someone who can speak two languages?
A. Bilingual

Q. What do you call someone who can speak three languages?
A. Trilingual

Q. What do you call someone who can only speak one language?
A. American

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Post by Fade »

If you speak English, there is little reason to learn any other language. I submit it's a waste of time for an American to learn another language unless they feel some kind of burning need to do so. Wherever you go, people speak English. English is becoming the language of travel and the language of business. If I were to learn, say, French.. there would be nowhere in my local life to speak it. Nobody to the north speaks it, nobody to the south, nobody to the east, and there's just water to the west. Why would I bother learning it?

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Post by Abdul Alhazred »

M'sieur bonjour (Flash NSFW)
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Post by Loon »

Fade wrote:If you speak English, there is little reason to learn any other language. I submit it's a waste of time for an American to learn another language unless they feel some kind of burning need to do so. Wherever you go, people speak English. English is becoming the language of travel and the language of business. If I were to learn, say, French.. there would be nowhere in my local life to speak it. Nobody to the north speaks it, nobody to the south, nobody to the east, and there's just water to the west. Why would I bother learning it?
For daily life in the US, you shoudln't need anything besides English. Though other languages my be helpful in certain areas. Some examples would be Spanish all through CA and the southwest and Chinese in pretty much any place with a Chinatown.

If your area has a large immigrant population, many of them will not (yet) speak English, but they will need all the services that other people need- doctors, lawyers, grocery clerks, accounting, IT, whatever. You can drastically expand your business in such a community by speaking the language. Even a little bit. And of course, non-English speaking tourists create another market.

Going a bit beyond US borders, not all foreign companies have English speakers. I know of one company that relies on babblefish for all email communication between their Japanese and American offices (or they did two years ago).

Start getting your passport stamped and the benefits grow even more. Sure, people all over Northern Europe speak perfect English. Not quite so true of east Asia. There's a lot of English in Tokyo and Seoul, but much less so outside of areas that cater to tourists. I don't want to imply that you can't get anything out of foreign travel if you don't speak the language, but you will get much more out of it if you can.

Of course, perhaps the very best reason to learn another language is that it opens doors. I'm not talking about business; I already did that. I'm talking about interests. If you like video games and anime, studying Japanese will open up literal warehouses of games and videos and comic books that you'd never be able to understand otherwise. Love Opera? German and Italian will both help you appreciate it more. Got a thing for Chinese medicine? Odds are good that the best resources are not written in English. Worried about the middle east? Arabic will help you gain some insight. The list goes on....

Of course, it may well be that most of your interests are best served in English; an extra language won't open enough doors to justify the trouble. So just make do with English- if you're only going to speak one language English is the best choice. But with so much crap being taught in schools today (and often poorly taught...) it would be nice if high school were giving kids something valuable to take into real life (and it seems that an understanding of biology or basic math is too much to hope for....)



Grammy, what languages do you speak?
I guess there he chose to err on the side of more votes. -[size=75]Grammatron[/size]

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Post by Bottle or the Gun »

Lesson #1:

SOAP

noun

1. A cleansing agent, manufactured in bars, granules, flakes, or liquid form, made from a mixture of the sodium salts of various fatty acids of natural oils and fats.
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Post by Fade »

For the record I am trilingual, and it took a LOT of effort to get there, and I regret doing most of it.

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roger
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Post by roger »

Bottle or the Gun wrote:Lesson #1:

SOAP

noun

1. A cleansing agent, manufactured in bars, granules, flakes, or liquid form, made from a mixture of the sodium salts of various fatty acids of natural oils and fats.
Oh, for crying out loud, be fair! :x

When on earth would they have the need to use that word? :D

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Abdul Alhazred
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Post by Abdul Alhazred »

roger wrote:
Bottle or the Gun wrote:Lesson #1:

SOAP

noun

1. A cleansing agent, manufactured in bars, granules, flakes, or liquid form, made from a mixture of the sodium salts of various fatty acids of natural oils and fats.
Oh, for crying out loud, be fair! :x

When on earth would they have the need to use that word? :D
According to my old Larousse, the French word for "soap" is "mélo radiodiffusé". :P
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Post by Loon »

Fade wrote:For the record I am trilingual, and it took a LOT of effort to get there, and I regret doing most of it.
What languages do you speak? Did you choose them or were they kind of thrust on you? (something like "you have not selected a foreign language class- you will take Spanish")

This is a subject I'd be happy to talk about all day :)
I guess there he chose to err on the side of more votes. -[size=75]Grammatron[/size]

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Fade
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Post by Fade »

I was forced to learn Irish, and I learned German of my own accord.

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Post by Loon »

Fade wrote:I was forced to learn Irish, and I learned German of my own accord.
I think you're the first person I've met (if you can count this as meeting) that speaks Irish. Do you get any use out of either of these languages? Does having Irish forced on you have an impact on your view of learning German?
I guess there he chose to err on the side of more votes. -[size=75]Grammatron[/size]

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Fade
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Post by Fade »

Loon wrote:
Fade wrote:I was forced to learn Irish, and I learned German of my own accord.
I think you're the first person I've met (if you can count this as meeting) that speaks Irish. Do you get any use out of either of these languages? Does having Irish forced on you have an impact on your view of learning German?
Most school-children in Ireland know a lot of phrases. Salutations, certain common questions, and common words. Teachers often won't let you, for instance, be excused to go to the restroom unless you ask in Irish. Long, long, long ago the English nearly killed the language all together by passing a series of inter-marriage laws. There are still thousands of people in Ireland that speak Irish on a regular, daily basis. My great grandparents barely speak English, so I had to learn enough to communicate with them. They retired in a tiny little house in a tiny village on a tiny rock on the coast.

Learning it gave me tools for learning German. English translates easily into French, Italian, and Spanish, but not very well into German. Certain concepts and ways of describing things are different. The verb "to do" is not used very often in German, and all the time in English, so I had to get used to thinking in a different way. The concept of words which can become two words was also new to me.

Since I had already learned to think in Irish somewhat, this was easier. I learned to stop fighting the differences and making the language conform.

As for use, a little. I read a German forum sometimes, but almost never post due to my limited vocabulary. I never use Irish because nobody here speaks it and my great grandparents aren't computer literate, and don't like phones very much. I send them letters from time to time, through the filter of my mother, a fluent Irish speaker.