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Wednesday, 22 May 2013

French parliament debates allowing some university subjects to be taught in English.

...and of course some academics get their proverbials in a twist

"Teaching in English - Let's do it" was the front page headline in Tuesday's edition of Libération, making it clear where the national daily stands on government plans to relax the law which prevents English from being used as a language to teach subjects (other than English of course) at French universities.

In fact the paper went further - its entire front cover was in English.
Libération front cover

The parliamentary debate opens today - and although the government is in favour, it's up against the usual head-in-the sand opposition from some academics.

Speaking on Tuesday's edition of La Matinale on Canal + the minister for higher education and research, Geneviève Fioraso, said a change in the 1994 law which currently prevents English being used to teach subjects at universities would attract foreign students and be of benefit to French students.

"It's a move which makes sense and in no way threatens the values or culture of the French language," she said.

"And it seems ridiculous to me that a blind eye is turned when it comes to les grandes écoles, which have ignored the law and taught subjects in English, while the rest of the country's universities have been prevented from doing so," she continued.

"It's a matter of making certain the law meets the needs of the country."

Geneviève Fioraso (screenshot from Canal + La Matinale)

Fioraso has the backing of some of France's leading academics - including a couple of Nobel prize winners - who wrote and signed an open letter in Le Monde supporting the idea.

But of course there are also those horrified at the thought that the proposal will "marginalise the French language" or worse! 

One of France's most distinguished (French) linguists, Claude Hagège, writing in Le Monde called the proposal "suicide" and "an act of sabotage" of the French language.

While Bernard Pivot, a leading literary figure in France, told Le Croix in an interview of the dangers of French becoming "banal, or worse, a dead language."

Er. M Pivot et al.

In the words of that modern French-speaking cultural icon, Nabilla, "Non mais 'allô quoi!"

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