Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The 7 Reasons to Teach Your Kid French that Don't Hold Up:

Recently an essay has been circulating making some pretty silly claims that we need to all learn French. It is a response to another essay claiming we need to stop pretending that French is an important international language. Now, I am in favor of learning multiple languages. I think the EU is on the right track trying to get all of its population to speak at least three languages. And French is a good candidate for people to learn, but it is not nearly the most important or useful. Here are the essays arguments in order, along with the reasons they don’t hold up:

1) For English speakers, French is the easiest language to learn.

According to the US Department of State, the category 1 languages (requiring 23-24 weeks to master) are Afrikaans, Catalan, Danish, Dutch, French, Galician, Italian, Norwegian, Portuguese, Romanian, Spanish, and Swedish. Basically all the Germanic and Latin languages except for German itself which is grammatically more complex and requires 30 weeks to learn. This is easy to understand because the English language is descendant of Old German mixed together with French. So a lot of these languages, particularly the Germanic ones, share a lot of similar words with English. And since they are all influenced by Latin they are all relatively similar in structure. However, there is a good reason to argue that, amongst the various Latin languages, French is harder to learn. That is because, unlike Spanish and Italian, French is a highly orthographic complex language. What that means is that the way is sound and the way it reads are very different. Also, it is more complex in its pronunciation and grammar than Spanish or Italian.

So that first point is only true if written: “For English speakers, French is the easiest language to learn AFTER Afrikaans, Dutch, Spanish, Italian and a few others.”


2) And learning French makes learning Spanish way easier.

This argument is silly. If your ultimate goal is learning Spanish, why learn a harder language first in order to ease the transition. Just learn the easier (and more practical) language from the start!

3) All over Europe, French is still the main second language taught in school.

This is another case of a poorly written argument. It is misleading. The main second language (after each country’s official language which is always the first taught in schools) across the whole of Europe is English. So at best this sentence should read. “French is still the main third language taught.) Even then that is questionable. Most countries begin to offer choices at that third language level, usually a choice between Latin and French, Italian, Spanish, or some other regional option like Russian or Arabic. Some are starting to offer more forward thinking options like Mandarin.

The piece then goes on to claim that French still has a high influence by siting the French Government’s own material. However, across Europe the only countries that officially have French as their language are France, Monaco and parts of Switzerland, Luxembourg and Belgium. You have to go to Africa to find a lot of countries where French is spoken, and in every single case of countries with French as an official language outside of Europe the number of French speakers is a minority of the population. Usually a small minority.

Even in the European Union, where 24 languages are recognized as official, three are used procedurally: English (understood by 51% of the population) German (the most widely spoken mother tongue in the EU) and French. French because it is the language of the three cities that are the political centers of the EU, not due to widespread use.

4) If you want to understand modern China and Russia, you need to know French.

This argument boils down to the fact that there is a French book that is important reading for people interested in totalitarianism in history and politics, and the English translation is not very good.

5) Half of Africa speaks French.

The truth is as follows: of the 1 Billion Africans on the continent approximately 130 million speak English as a first or secondary language (13%), 20 million speak Portuguese (2%), 10 million speak Spanish (1%), 170 million speak an Arabic dialect (17%), and 115 million speak French (11,5%). So not a half by far.

6) Americans still hear French all the time.

Along with Arabic, Chinese, German, and a lot of Spanish. In fact, you might hear made-up languages like Klingon more frequently than French these days.

7) French politics is the greatest show in news.

Only if you are into comedy of soap operas.

No comments:

Post a Comment

NonModernBlog written content is the copyrighted property of Jason Dietz. Header photos and photos in posts where indicated are the copyrighted property of Jason and Cheryl Dietz.
Promotional photos such as screenshots or posters and links to the trailers of reviewed content are the property of the companies that produced the original content and no copyright infringement is intended.
It is believed that the use of a limited number of such material for critical commentary and discussion qualifies as fair use under copyright law.

  © Blogger template Brownium by Ourblogtemplates.com 2009

Back to TOP