Au revoir, French
In response to Mr Inglis, (Letters, 17 December) there are actually several reasons why we should not devote secondary school teaching time to the French language.
We are in an increasingly global world and must reach out to very large markets across the seas.
Inertia cannot justify the decades-long tradition of learning what is now a regional language of minor significance.
Even among romance languages, Spanish and Portuguese are head and shoulders above French in the business world, with Latin America powering ahead.
Its battle with English for hegemony was lost on the fields of Flanders when the Versaille treaty was signed.
French is an elegant, quaint, linguistic Betamax; just like Minitel, it was almost there – but only in the last century.
French is complex in terms of tenses and verbs, and not phonetic, which complicates learning.
Its role in everything from Nato to Eurovision stems largely from the aftermath of the Second World War.
Devotion to its continued use is quasi-nostalgic; slowly resembling Latin and Church Slavonic in being a language of the institutions of faith.
Twenty years from now the UK will be an independent nation trading with China, Brazil, Russia and India, among others. French will be taught with Latin and Greek as a classical language by tweed-clad professors in the leafy campuses of elite universities. Our secondary schools will teach languages that, frankly, have a point.
Au revoir, le français!
Has Otto Inglis ever tried teaching German to children who have had no grammar lessons?
If he had, he would have lost half his class as soon as they met the accusative case, followed by another quarter with the dative case.
Children of the present generation have no understanding of subject and object, and since German is a very grammatical language, it is not easy to master.
It may be easy to pronounce, particularly for Scots, and spelling is easier than French, but with so many different forms of “the” and “a” depending on their function within the sentence, children find it very difficult.
It was easy for those of us who started with Latin, where we met six cases, therefore German with only four was easy, but sadly these days have gone.
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