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French an important language in the world?
When England was ruled by the Norman Kings, French was the ruling language in England. For almost 400 years the nobility, including the judiciary, spoke French and the common people spoke an evolving English. After the conquest in 1066, Norman French became the language of Power in England and English remained the language of the common people. All official documents were written either in Latin, the language of the church, or in French.
Almost a 1000 years later and the British still cannot be bothered to learn a second language.
Should schools give up French?
Since 2002 there has been a decline in the number of pupils in the UK who can speak French, and it is said that this is a direct result of government legislation in the UK which abolished foreign languages in schools as compulsory. In 2002, 341,604 school children or pupils in England and Wales took GCSE French, whereas in 2010 it was down to 188,688, which is down by 45 percent. During the same period the number of A levels in French went down by 14 percent.
Should you bother to learn French?
So, is this putting English speaking students, businessmen and companies at a disadvantage? English may be described as the world's business language, but 200 million people speak French around the world, and it is an official language in 29 countries. Furthermore, did you know that French is an official language of the United Nations AGENCIES and a large number of other international organizations? The British Commonwealth has eight French-speaking countries as members.
According to the European Union, 129 million, or twenty-six percent of the Union's total population can speak French, of whom 72 million are native speakers (65 million in France, 4.5 million in Belgium, plus 2.5 million in Switzerland). 69 million are second-language or foreign language speakers, thus making French the third language in the European Union. According to a demographic projection led by the Université Laval and the Réseau Démographie de l'Agence Universitaire de la Francophonie, French speakers will number approximately 500 million people in 2025 and 650 million people, or approximately seven percent of the world's population by 2050.
In a special report produced by "Forbes 2000", it is shown that 3 out of the top 50 companies in the world are French. They are, at number 15, Total France Oil & Gas; number 17, BNP Paribas France Banking; and at number 28, AXA Group France Insurance. If you are serious about your career, international business, export or you are a serious traveller, then French should be a prime candidate. Remember that 29 countries in the world have French as their second language.
How to learn French
Once you have decided to embrace the French language as your second language then the question is how is the best way to learn?
There are many books and guides you can buy which are very helpful, there are many CDs or videos that you can see and listen to; again very illustrative and imaginative. You could take private lessons or go to evening classes, and all of these without question would help you learn or improve your French. Maybe you are one of those 6 percent in the world who speak French because you have been studying French at school or university and feel there is no more to learn.
Whichever method you choose, eventually the time will arrive when you will have to speak it, and speak it to a French person. Time and time again at La Giraudiere we have had students arrive who have studied French at School or University but have never had the occasion to use it, and this is where La Giraudiere comes to the fore.
How the programs at La Giraudiere can help
Whether you arrive at LG as a volunteer in France or as an intern in France, apart from the French lessons offered, both programs will present you with occasions to practice your French. Yes, real life situations; but only if you want to, there is no pressure. Here are some examples of how it works at La Giraudiere:
Monday and Friday evening in Brossac village there is a meeting of the Brossac Olympique boules or petanque club, and grace of La Giraudiere the group is invited to participate. These are great occasions for you to meet and converse with the locals, all of whom have different French dialects and accents. By your third week you will know the first name of many of the players, you will know where in France they are from, and they will know you because you will have to tell them. But not to worry; there will be someone to help if you feel you lack some vocabulary or the confidence to converse. The Brossacaise love to show foreign visitors how to play boules, and typically it is the winner who pays for the verre de vanquer (a glass of wine costing 25 centimes). So even if you lose, you win; very French.
Monday morning is market day at Chalais, and Tuesday evening is the weekly shopping trip for the LG group. Both are great occasions to practice your French. Just imagine the scernario: you are going to the market town of Chalais to purchase some fresh produce for the week for the group at LG. The first difference is it is in kilos and litres, the second you will be paying in euros, and the third is you have to get it right or everyone back at LG will go hungry! But don't worry, there will be someone with you to help if you start to falter.
The supermarket will also present new challenges, such as you will need 25 centimes for the chariot ! Or at the checkout the cashier may say, "votre carte videlity svp", or maybe, " il doit être pesé et le prix". But again, not to worry, help is at hand.
I hope from these two examples you can see the difference between learning French in school or university and learning French in France, whilst living and working there. All the programs and projects at La Giraudiere will offer you the chance to either learn or improve your knowledge of the French language, and most important of all to improve your confidence in using the language. All you need to decide now is to either Volunteer in France or apply for an Internship in France which will be live in the next few weeks.
Acknowledgment of help from the following: The Forbes 2000 Report; Will Smale, BBC News and Wikipedia.org.
|LEARN FRENCH FRANCE|