Posted by: lyonenglishnetwork | October 11, 2012

Have the French got ideological problems with English ?

There’s something wrong with French people learning English. Actually, that’s a generalization! There’s something wrong with some French people learning English.

Yesterday, I had a class in Lyon. During the class, we moved onto the subject of learning English using a video of an American person giving a presentation about the subject. The American on film was very enthusiastic, very outgoing and I would say, a good speaker (even though I didn’t exactly agree with everything he said, but that’s not really the point).

I asked the question of my student (I won’t name him) as to whether they imitate English or American speakers whilst speaking English and the answer came back like this: “I don’t like globalization”! He was afraid that globalization with English as a lingua franca (common language) was taking over the world.

English is the international language of business. In some cases, French people are speaking Spanish in Spain if they can, but, by and large, English is fast becoming the international language for global communication in business.

However, I have a problem here. If I was to decide to learn another language it would be a language I liked, not a language I didn’t like. I was trying to see what other languages I might like to learn and which ones I wouldn’t. Bottom of the list ?: North Korean. I really wouldn’t want to learn North Korean for obvious reasons.

Globalization is not the only reason I’ve heard from my students in recent years. Joan of Arc has been mentioned too. I mean, just because the French don’t like the English it doesn’t mean they can’t learn the language. Well, actually it does. If you’re going to learn a language properly, you have to embrace the language, you have to get rid of any ideological differences or perhaps learning the language will help you to combat those ideological differences, to realize that, in actual fact, the English are not so bad. In actual fact, it’s not so bad to grab a sandwich from the local sandwich shop at lunchtime, it’s not so bad to have a cup of tea with milk and it’s not so bad to be efficient (pls. don’t bring up the study that showed that the French are the most productive in Europe!).

Embrace the language, love the language you’re learning, love the expressions it brings you, love the way it sounds, love the culture, love it all and you’ll go far. Start off by hating the language you’re learning and you’d be better off learning Spanish (seriously!). But English is the international language of business. So what ? If you don’t like, don’t learn it!

Paul Bradley



  1. French could have become the global language of business. For a while it was the language of diplomacy,whilst the ‘nobility’ used it to snobbishly show off their superiority. Some still do!
    But then, Napolean lost the battles he waged against the English; Nelson won at Trafalgar; Britain gained mastery of the seas; the globe became colonized more widely by the British than the French, and the English language set in, in global dominance.
    It’s been a long historical process and that’s just how it is. The French have to either ‘like it or lump it’. But if they ‘lump it’ they put themselves at a disadvantage when communicating on the international stage.
    C’est comme ça! Tant pis!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: