Archive for January, 2010

The French and their language – an update

Posted on January 10th, 2010by Michelle
In Culture, French | 1 Comment »

Last October, I wrote about French and the layers of bureaucracy a new word has to face before being officially introduced into the language.

It seems that the status of the French language has become an even bigger issue in France since then, with a debate raging about national identity and language at the forefront.

Groups including Avenir de la langue française (Future of the French language) have called on the government to stop the infiltration of English influenced words, citing a recent poll that apparently showed 80% of French people think their language is crucial to national cohesion.

The debate is so heated that some workers unions have denounced dropping accents on letters (é) at France Telecom as ‘demoralising’ to workers, and the cause of suicides at the company.

President Nicolas Sarkozy, whose English is rudimentary, pledged to push the use of French during his presidency of Europe in last year. But Marc Favre d’Echallens, Paris head of the group Défense de la Langue Française, said the president was obsessed with making France a bi-lingual country and had not stemmed the falling use of French in the EU.

In 1997, 40 per cent of documents at the European Commission were first written in French, compared to 45 per cent in English. In 2008, the ratio had fallen to 14 per cent French versus 72 per cent English. Last year French was down to 11 per cent.

The groups are demanding a “great national debate” on defending the French language, so that its “planned assassination cannot continue in silence”. (Source: The Telegraph)

If the French could inspire people around the world to protect their own languages, we may not see so many on the endangered and extinct lists.

Happy New Year: Goals and Targets!

Posted on January 8th, 2010by Michelle
In Hints and Tips, Language acquisition, Spanish | 1 Comment »

Goal settingI hope everyone had very happy holidays, and welcome to 2010 at Language Museum!

Normally I don’t make New Year’s resolutions, but I think this year it’s time to make one that will benefit me not just this year but in years to come. Last year I started to learn Spanish, and this year I think it’s time to accelerate that learning.

So, I’m rededicating myself to the cause, and plan to improve both my language learning skills, and my knowledge of the language itself.
To this end, I’ve set myself some goals.

1) To attend Spanish classes at a beginner level.
2) Aim to move to beginner-intermediate level classes by the end of the year.
3) Outside of class, complete homework to the best of my ability.
4) Practice speaking the language at every opportunity.
5) Seek out opportunities to use Spanish – listening, speaking, reading and writing.
6) Learn to read basic texts – children’s books, short stories, newspaper articles.

Hopefully it will help to write down my goals, review and revise them throughout the year. Goal setting is a great way to measure your progress in learning a language, whether you do this individually or in conjunction with a teacher.

It’s also a good idea to have both short-term and long-term goals – for instance, one of my long-term goals is to read Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s The Shadow of the Wind in the original. To achieve this goal though, I have set myself the short and medium-term goals listed above. They are the steps I will take to get to the bigger goal.

What are your language learning goals? What is your long-term ambition?