Posted by: lyonenglishnetwork | June 17, 2011

Is it me or are the French improving their English ?

I’m an English teacher down here in Lyon, France and recently it seems to me that I’ve been getting students using much better vocabulary, knowing more expressions, and generally being able to cope better in more situations.

The TNT (télévision numérique terrestre) is now available to everyone – forced upon people because the old, analogue tv, at least in the Lyon area is not available anymore. You can set this so your default setting is English, meaning some films and tv series are in English.

I was on a plane recently to England and a salesman working in England said when he was in Spain or France 20 years ago, people loved it when he had a go at their language. Now, he said, it’s the opposite. The French like to have a go at English as much as they can.

Perhaps it’s more and more access to the internet or perhaps it’s more and more business situations but it does seem to me there’s a significant improvement.

Is it just an impression or is there a real improvement ?


Learn English Naturally



  1. I’d say that among my students, a lot seem to find greater interest in the language.
    The improvement may come fron this indeed. Maybe a broader sense of the reality of the need (you know how much I value this idea of need) helps them find an interest.
    I recently showed my students some pages of “Go English” and they seem to be very excited at the idea of reading the magazine (meant for French learners of English), and this particularly due to the topics presented in the magazine (travelling, companies, people, etc).
    How about you? How do you manage to get the interest of your students?

  2. How do I manage to get the interest of my students ? I don’t, always. I try. By using a variety of activities some of them are interested.

    But I think you are right about the “need” thing. So I try to create the need in the classroom by using activities such as pairwork and puzzle-solving type activities in a group so there is an objective at the end. The objective is to solve the puzzle, not to speak English; English then becomes basically the “currency” by which they solve it. As close as possible to a real world situation.

    There are advantages and disadvantages to this.

    The disadvantage is that we have the expression “when in Rome, do as the Roman’s do”. Well I think that’s also true for “When in Rome, say what the Roman’s say!”. The trouble is, how to get the message across to the students about what the English say. I try to do as much authentic listening as possible for this reason. But it’s not enough.

    For example, in France we say “quand-même”, “pas de soucis” and “ça y est”! What do we say in England ?

    They need to go to the country in order to experience it for themselves. That’s why I’m currently working on a project to find somebody who could do that for me, take students to England regularly or organize trips.


    Learn English the natural way.

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