French Education

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French as she is spoken in the UK

Have been wondering when UK schools stopped offering French in the curriculum?

Short winter days have left me more of a TV couch potato than at any other time of the year.

I am wondering about how French is now so appallingly spoken even by BBC presenters.

To name a few well-known and well-regarded presenters: Fiona Bruce, John Humphrys, Jeremy Paxman.  From their programmes Antiques Road Show, Mastermind and University Challenge.

I can't believe that presenters of their calibre seem to have little if no knowledge of French pronunciation!Ick! [+o(]  Bring back Bamber Gascoigne, I say!

Can't help thinking that perhaps the days of French conjugasion and learning by rote have long passed, without my even noticing?

No, DON'T look at me, I didn't go to school in the UK.  Only to university and NOT one of your old prestige establishments either!

N'allez pas trop vite - Proust
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Big Smile [:D]

Re: French as she is spoken in the UK

Well what about the American and Australian TV presenters and the way they mangle the English language? As for the French pronunciation of English the mind boggles. You seem to think that unless you are 100% fluent in a language, you shouldn't be on TV or Radio, interesting mind set. Considering most of the UK population don't speak proper, I think you're tilting at windmills my dear Mint.
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Re: French as she is spoken in the UK

100% fluent?  No, I don't expect it.

It's just that years ago, I heard about the BBC having a department called the Pronunciation Unit or some such where they teach the presenters how to pronounce foreign names.  After all, if you are reading the news and speaking to millions, I don't think it's much to ask that you checked the pronunciation beforehand.

I don't think that I myself would have been any the wiser if I didn't live in France and didn't realise that none of the mentioned announcers had even a modicum of French.

I myself knew fewer than probably 20 words or so.  I have only been noticing by virtue of living here and knowing better![]

Mind you, it's not just French, they can't get Welsh words right either; very obvious to me because I lived in South Wales and I heard them struggling with Pontyclun and Pontypridd Big Smile [:D]

As for what Polish people must think of the way we pronounce their names..............less said the better, I think!

N'allez pas trop vite - Proust
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Re: French as she is spoken in the UK

Most French TV presenters are bilangue and have tremendous competence in the English language, when I hear them speaking it to an English audience they make me feel very humble.

However whenever they use English phrases or place names in a French program they dileberately pi55pronounce them in the French manner presumably in order for the viewers to understand.

Place names that change like Londres, Douvre etc I can understand but when they are interviewing an English speaking person and then repeat what they have said in French changing the prononciation on words which are in common use in French or place names when the context is obvious and thete would be no misunderstanding must make them cringe after all their years of effort to become competent in the English language.

By and large most French words and phrases that have found their way into the English language retain their correct pronunciation and most people say them in this way, those that dont can often be forgiven because they may never have heard the word spoken, they may have read it and pronounced it would be were it an English word, there are exceptions like charabanc but that does not retain the original French form and accent (char à banc).

Most English people who wish to have friendly relations with their foreign friends, neighbours and colleagues will make a serious effort to pronounce their given name correctly even if it doesnt fall easily off the tongue, do the French do that? Any Ians or Michaels here would like to answer that one?

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Re: French as she is spoken in the UK

To go back to your original point, Mint, about the teaching of french in british schools, perhaps the method has changed. The emphasis now seems to be on conversation and colloquialisms.
I started french at age 11, and the first term was spent only on pronunciation. I still remember the pain in the nose from practising an, en, in, on etc.
Living in the NE the gutteral "r" was where  we excelled, also the broad vowels.

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Re: French as she is spoken in the UK

Chancer asked:  any Ians or Michaels

The one that amuses me no end and I have only known the one is...............Keith!Big Smile [:D]

N'allez pas trop vite - Proust
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Re: French as she is spoken in the UK

I am sure that the pronounciation problems in both directions come from the fact that people begin with the word on the page and as the two languages use different letters for the same sound they are immediately lost.

A simple example is the letter 'i' which in French sounds as 'ee'...the very sound that letter doesn't make in English.

So  'it is a big tin of beans'  becomes 'eet eez un beeg teen off beeenz'

'Wifi' becomes 'Weefee' etc.

Then there are the sounds that don't really occur in the other language, or letters which are silent such as the 'knight' in English or the final 's' in almost all Frencj words..

If we threw away the printed word and just listened and repeated (as a baby learns from its mother) these mistakes wouldn't happen

The fact that an opinion has been widely held is no evidence whatever that it is not utterly absurd; indeed in view of the silliness of the majority of mankind, a widespread belief is more likely to be foolish than sensible.
- Bertrand Russell
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Re: French as she is spoken in the UK

Oh, I forgot to mention those Place in the Sun type programmes with their presenters who are all teeth and t@ts (and, no, I am not letting down the side).

I like to watch the ones when they go to France because I think it's one way that I can "visit" different parts of France.

There is one, all blue-eyed, TnT (as described above), who glosses over all the French place names at speed and it often takes me several minutes to work out where she has taken the househunters.  I have to rely on visual clues, direction boards, landscape, etc and make a guess and hope they show a map of France so that I can get a rough idea.

Only a week ago, she was in Colly-or (sometimes she said Colly-er)!  Still, if I told you that she was in southern France, it all becomes clearBig Smile [:D]

N'allez pas trop vite - Proust
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