A Conservative politician has declared that “nobody in the world speaks French”. Member of Scottish Parliament Murdo Fraser insisted that it is waste of time teaching children French in primary schools because no one speaks the language “apart from the French obviously” and that Spanish should instead be the focus of language lessons.
Children should learn Spanish
The convenor of Holyrood’s Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee, said “in terms of international trade, French is a very minor language” and suggested that children should learn Spanish, Mandarin, Arabic or German instead because these languages would be more useful as they have a “wider international reach”.
Fraser’s comments were considered particularly controversial due to the fact that the French Ambassador, Sylvie Bermann, was due to appear at First Minister’s Questions the following day.
Emphasis on foreign cultural customs
Although his remarks received criticism from some quarters, Fraser was backed up by Garry Clark, head of policy and research at the Scottish Chambers of Commerce.
Clark agreed that Spanish is an excellent choice of language for school children, as it is so widely spoken around the world, while Portuguese, Russian and Mandarin are all more “useful” languages than French.
Clark also called for more emphasis to be placed on learning foreign cultural customs in school alongside languages, so that children would know how to conduct themselves in the future in an international business environment.
ENA graduates ‘need English’
In another blow to the French language, the National School of Administration (ENA) in Strasbourg, has declared that from now on all its students must speak English.
This elite school in France, which counts former French President Jacques Chirac among its alumni, has stated that French is not enough all that its graduates need fluent English “in order to cope with their future roles”.
Do you think children are wasting their time learning French?
Which foreign languages should UK schools be teaching?