Languages
Page last updated at 20:28 GMT, Tuesday, 2 September 2008 21:28 UK

French row over English lessons

By Emma Jane Kirby
BBC News, Paris

High school classroom in France (archive)
President Nicolas Sarkozy is likely to back the plan

The main teaching union in France has criticised the education minister's plans to offer free English classes in the school holidays next year.

Xavier Darcos announced the plans on Monday, insisting that speaking fluent English was the key to success.

The Snes-FSU union leader Roland Hubert said Mr Darcos should be concentrating on what happens during school time.

The policy marks a real break from the traditional Gallic strategy of promoting the French language.

Two years ago, the then President, Jacques Chirac, famously stormed out of an EU summit when a fellow Frenchman began making his speech in English.

In 1994, the French parliament passed a law obliging music-orientated French radio stations to increase their French-language programming to at least 40% of their output.

Traditionalists

Xavier Darcos said it was a "handicap" to speak poor English.

He said that while "well-off families pay for study sessions abroad, I'm offering them to everyone right here".

President Nicolas Sarkozy is likely to back the plan.

He has already infuriated traditionalists by suggesting that the French should no longer insist on speaking their own language at international negotiations.

The French leader does admit however that his own English needs a little work.

He once made a speech to businessmen in English, telling them they would all be welcome to invest in "Frence".


SEE ALSO
Teachers throng Paris over cuts
18 May 08 |  Europe
Timeline: France
08 Jul 08 |  Country profiles
Country profile: France
08 Jul 08 |  Country profiles

RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

BBC navigation

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific