French Education

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Re: French as she is spoken in the UK

It's a bit hard to expect TV journalists to have a perfect grasp of the correct pronunciation of all foreign words. If so imagine the linguistic dexterity required if they have several items from countries as varied as France, Germany, China, Iceland, Lesotho, Paraguay, Huddersfield.

Anyone here got a good Chilean accent?
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Re: French as she is spoken in the UK

When I was a baby I was spoken to and started to speak English. A few years later I went to school and they started to teach me English grammar.

A few years later I went to the big school. They told me that in the first year I would start to learn French and in the second year German would be added. Unlike learning English it was not just the spoken but the grammar at the same time whoaaaa. So actually learning the words was a long process because I had to learn how to conjugate the verb 'etre' and recite it. Now to my mind if that had been unsaid and just a part of conversational learning they could then have started teaching the rudiments of grammar - they way I did with English.

Our French master was English and our German mistress (shame not the other way round :) )was actually German. To assist with Frecn h pronunciation that brought in a young French girl which seemed to be a mistake in a boys school.

As for pronouncing place names then it is very difficult to find out how they should be pronounced. I did once ask on here if there was a book to which Claire (where is she) replied that there was not.

But perhaps there are peculiarities in all language - for instance, the Norfolk village of Happisburg.

Some friends son is married to a Czech girl and they live in Czech and a couple of years back adopted a very young Czech boy. He has been brought up with his mother speaking to him in Czech and his father in English. The result is that he speaks Czech with a Czech accent and English with an English accent. One problem for the teacher when he starts to 'learn' English at school is that they may be picked up on a few things but for the other children they will be able to listen to what will be a genuine English accent which may also benefit the teacher assuming they are Czech.

But what about dialects - thinking for instance about Yorkshire and Glaswegian. A foreigner perfectly fluent in English may struggle.
It is undemocratic to ask the people if a negotiated deal is what they want.

Then how can it be democratic to ask MPs for a third time if what they do not want is what they want?
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Re: French as she is spoken in the UK

Here's an interesting one for your brains to fathom.
A few days ago, as it's currently the time of year for (no, not what you're all thinking) the Horse of The Year show, there was much coverage of the extremely successful English rider Charlotte Dujardin.
Ever since her Olympic success, I've heard her surname pronounced as French speakers would expect it to sound, as in the French "garden". However, on the BBC breakfast news some days ago, the presenters were making a conscious effort to pronounce it to rhyme with "in".... Because her mother had made a point of telling journalists that this is the way the family has always pronounced their name.
As for place names..present any non-Brit with a list of Leicester, Worcester and Gloucester, with or without their respective shires, and prepare for a world of pain. Why, even my old stomping ground of Slough is a problem for the non-initiated. If you spend even a few seconds making a list of words containing the "ough" combination and present it to a non native speaker of English, I guarantee you'll confuse them.
Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on the situation and your viewpoint, whilst the rest of the world continues to perceive great benefit in mastering the English language, it will forever remain beyond the capacity of most of us Anglo-Saxons to reciprocate in kind. We can usually manage one or two, but we can't manage to cover the languages of every nation that teaches English to its kids. Why, some schools in London have in excess of 70 different mother tongues among their pupils. should the staff be able to master the rudiments of all of them? Of course not!
My son, then about 12 years old, summed it up quite well when I gave up being a corporate lackey to start teaching English as a Foreign Language.
"So, mum" he said " are you going to teach English to French people?"
"No, not just French people...they could be from anywhere"
"But you only speak French"
Long pause.......
"I think I've detected a flaw in your plan..."😕
Don't want to end up a cartoon in a cartoon graveyard.
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Re: French as she is spoken in the UK

 JSKS wrote:
It's a bit hard to expect TV journalists to have a perfect grasp of the correct pronunciation of all foreign words. If so imagine the linguistic dexterity required if they have several items from countries as varied as France, Germany, China, Iceland, Lesotho, Paraguay, Huddersfield. Anyone here got a good Chilean accent?


I have freely admitted that Polish names might be difficult for all except the Poles themselvesBig Smile [:D]

French, I do feel, is a special case.  This is because for hundreds of years, it was the language of royal courts; the English and Russian courts come to mind.  And British people have had hundreds of years of both admiration and exasperation for the French language, is that not so?

It was the language not only of diplomacy but, together with perhaps latin, was the international language of literary discourse.

Any lovers and readers of 18th century English novels, Jane Austen, the Brontes, would always find a smattering of French phrases in the stories.

Also, thank you, Patf, for telling me about the teaching of French in UK schools.

Of course, as has been pointed out, some of our own regional accents are diabolical to understand.  I do feel, however, that I am particularly noticing how French words are pronounced on British TV because (who'd have guessed?) I am learning French myself and so I pay more attention.  It's like when you buy a new car and you start noticing all the other cars of the same model on the roads or when you are pregnant (no, I am not!) and suddenly the world is full of pregnant women!

When Reith, the first Managing Director of the BBC, set forth their Mission Statement (actually, no, perhaps MS was not a buzz phrase in those days) he stated that the BBC was there to Inform, Educate and Entertain.  I like to think that it still sets standards for the commercial stations to aspire to.

 



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

I'm afraid I hardly know the names of olympians so I don't know who you are talking about betty, but you made me think of Mrs Bucket and I smiled.

Tony Blair was on french news a few weeks ago, speaking in perfectly good french........ and not waving his hands about as he usually does, in fact he as much as it chagrins me, he seemed to be talking a bit of sense, which I found weird and spooky, as I wouldn't usually trust the man to pick up my dog's droppings.

I spent a very happy hour this morning on the phone to my best friend in France. She doesn't care about my iffy french, none of my good french friends do. They do take the mickey sometimes, gentle ribbing.....but nothing malicous. My grammar is lousy, my conjugaisons all to pot........... and so what. When I can laugh and get along splendidly with good friends...... and sadly sometimes cry ....... does it matter that I speak french like a vache espagnole!Wink [;-)]

Should tv and radio journalists get it right, yes, actually because in a way they are educating ie passing on information.






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Re: French as she is spoken in the UK

To go back to a point made by Mint originally, yes, the BBC did have a pronunciation unit, I knew someone who used to be in it .. but seems all language learning is now tarred with some peculiar brush.  Here the daughter of one of our English friends who lives here, works as a translator etc, decide to go in for teaching English to the French and actually qualify as the French wished.  She was told to loose her slight northern accent and speak with a proper posh accent to teach English.

I give up!



Judith
ex W1, via 47 and 11 and now [just] in 34, equidistant from Carcassonne, Narbonne and Béziers, where I hope we'll finally stay!!

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Re: French as she is spoken in the UK

I was only friendly with a couple of other english families in France, none of us lived near one another, so all our kids went to schools all over the dept and even the one next to it. The problem we all had was with the english teacher's, french, correcting our children's english, with americanisms, or whatever 'other' english accent they wanted, which none of ours had. All of us families from north of the Watford Gap.

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Re: French as she is spoken in the UK

Quote 'She was told to loose her slight northern accent and speak with a proper posh accent to teach English. '

Now I read somewhere that companies favour call centres in Newcas'le' because the accent is regarded as friendier.

Have a friend who has lived in England for many many years but has not mastered 'w' - but surely, the most important thing is to be understandable.

There is also a perception that Enlish spoken with a French accent is 'sexy'

Wonder how the oft quoted line in The Italian Job would have gone down if Michael Caines character had said in a very posh voice:

'I say old chap you were not supposed to remove the entrance points from the motor vehicle'.
It is undemocratic to ask the people if a negotiated deal is what they want.

Then how can it be democratic to ask MPs for a third time if what they do not want is what they want?
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