A newly proposed law in France would encourage English-language instruction at universities in France.
NPR asks “Will teaching in English at France’s universities undermine the French language? That’s up for debate in the country now, and the arguments are heated.”
According to the Washington Post, “Higher Education Minister Genevieve Fioraso this week introduced a bill that would allow French universities to teach more courses in English, even when English is not the subject. The goal, she explained, is to attract more students from such countries as China, Brazil and India, where English is widely taught but French is reserved largely for literature lovers.”
France has long utilized cultural patronage and official organizations such as the Alliance Française to promote French language abroad, while ensuring that educational institutions within France utilize French as their language of instruction.
The proposed law has outraged many professors and educational leaders. Jacques Attali, a cultural critic and former advisor to President Mitterand, has criticized the proposed law. Attali is quoted as arguing: “Not only would such a reform be contrary to the Constitution (which provides in its Article 2 ‘the language of the Republic is French’), but you cannot image an idea that is stupider, more counterproductive, more dangerous and more contrary to the interest of France.”