It will be no surprise to regulars to hear that I am a Francophone. My year spent in Nice as an ‘assistant d’anglais’ was one of the happiest of my life. I love the French language, much of French culture, and am most definitely not one of those Brits who holds the view that the only thing wrong with France is the French.
So there was nothing anti-French about the tweet I sent earlier proclaiming victory for the English language on meeting a trainee PE teacher who wanted to practice her English on us because she needed to pass an exam in English before she was able to qualify to teach French kids in a French school.
The French State is fiercely protective of the French language, and the French people rightly proud of it. Successive leaders since de Gaulle have sought to defend and promote the language, and to resist Anglification, or perhaps more accurately, Americanisation. I have rather admired their efforts.
That is why it was something of a surprise to learn that this young woman had to pass exams not just in sport, but English and information technology. The second of these is more obvious, I guess, but the combination suggests an education system adapting properly to the realities of the modern world.
Would that the same could be said of the UK government and the changes being brought in by Michael Gove, who wants to adapt to the world as he imagines it to be rather than the world as it is.
Finally, to pre-empt the critical comments re the last Labour government’s downgrading of modern languages in the curriculum, I agree with you.