Spanish against French: the fight to be the second global language

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Cavesa
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Re: Spanish against French: the fight to be the second global language

Postby Cavesa » Thu Feb 28, 2019 6:18 pm

Very good points, zenmonkey, thanks.

The predictions certainly have some base, but they still need to be taken with a grain of salt. There is no question about a huge rise of the population in Africa. The question is, whether the population will still be francophone. I wouldn't underestimate the various local movements to promote the original african languages, or the influence of Arabic.

Yes, the few dozen millions in Europe may be peanuts. But they are the richest peanuts on the planet. That matters. They are the peanuts who spend a lot of money, who are active in the international business, and so on.

Sorry about the wrong term about the american geography. I though the two, south and latin america, were totally synonymous. I meant no offence.

......
romeo.alpha wrote:
They'll pick the language they have an easier time with, even if they don't understand why they have an easier time. It's the same reason most Germans prefer to learn Spanish or Italian. None of them could explain why they find French so difficult, but they'll still shy away from it.

The difficulty of French is a myth. People believe it, because it has been repeated to them enough times. If Spanish or Italian were so much easier, people would get to a high level more often. Do they? I can't actually remember that many foreigners speaking Spanish really well. And all the natives I've met (for example during my month long stay in the country) were finding them very rare too.

So, people take the perceived difficulty into account. Not the real one. With enough marketing, even a harder language can be perceived as easier than one with worse marketing, it is normal.

Perhaps you should consider, that if your presented personal experience is valid (as you've been using such examples repeatedly), perhaps the experience of other people is true as well. ;-)


It's not your experiences I question, it's your reasoning.


So far, my reasoning seems to be much more based on the reality of language learning than yours.


French might be taught better than English, what is not that plausible about it?


What's not plausible? That English is a second class language compared to any other when it comes to teaching. Way more money is put into English education worldwide than any other foreign language. It's not even a context. Way more research is put into ELL than any other language.


Yes, tons of money are being spent on the research. Do you think that the results of that research, whatever they are, get used equally all over the world? Nope.

Yes, lots of money is being spent even in the less rich countries. But that doesn't mean the people are getting the same quality for the same money. For example I could write a long post about why I am convinced that the less popular countries get native ESL teachers of significantly inferior quality, compared to the popular countries. Really, money is not a universal guarantee, despite being important.

The money cannot buy everything. To get a new and numerous generation of teachers in a certain country, you simply need to wait for some people to grow up and get through their studies. It may even take a few generations. Until that happens, the language with an already established base keeps the advantage.

And it is not just about that. France accepts tons of international students for exchanges. And not only from Europe. The UK is significantly less open, unless we're talking about the Commonwealth. France has a lot of bilateral exchange agreements with various countries in its traditional sphere of influence.

Curiously, a lot of africans with ambitions to study abroad might be likely to need neither French, nor English, but Mandarin. Have you heard about the tons of investments of China on the continent and the cultural and study exchange programs?

But again, this thread was primarily about French and Spanish (I recommend reading the big letters above the posts).

You seem not to know much about English teaching around the world. There are various factors affecting that. A traditionally strong language with a huge base of support and lots of teachers is not unlikely to be taught in general better than a newer language, given the various problems in ESL teaching discussed in the other threads (such as many countries getting mostly really bad native "teachers", who just have passed a short CELTA and primarily teach to escape their primary career failure and get a nice expat lifestyle, or the problems coming with the "communicative" approach ad absurdum, or lack of the English teachers being covered by other langauge teachers switching and being one lesson before the students, and so on). English is often not that well taught. The students in most countries are just more motivated. If they are motivated to learn French instead, it shows.


For all the theoretical complaints armchair language teachers might come up with ELT around the world, there are hundreds of millions of people who learned English as a foreign language and who speak it very well. If the communicative approach, which seems to draw some irrational ire on this forum, weren't effective, it wouldn't still be used. People learn English because their livelihoods depend on it, and failure to achieve a certain level means they'll look for other teaching methods, and schools will change what they offer.


Yes, the people learn because they have to. And they learn in spite of the schools, not primarily thanks to them. Years of experience are not irrational ire, and you might notice that most people criticising this teaching approach on this forum have got the experience (some of them much more than me). I don't think the English natives with zero experience with ESL teaching should dismiss the view of people who have actually got the experience learning this language.

Those tons of successful students tend to self study, pay for extra classes and for resources to make up for the "communicative" approach (why do you think the grammar books are being sold so much), and they watch tons of streamed tv series, which makes up for the impossibility of getting enough input in class. What do think was the first huge breakthrough in my English? Spending a summer with the English Grammar in Use. My criticisms of the commucative approach are very well founded, including admiting some advantages of it (when it is done well, not as alibi for bad teaching). I recommend looking at posts by Reineke, they often share links and parts of research articles. The communicative approach is being criticised by the professionals too. No approach is perfect.

To most schools, it doesn't matter whether the communicative approach is effective. People believe in it, due to the marketing, and they pay for it. When they find out it doesn't work for them, they pay for other teachers, other books, etc., until something works.

Really, do you think it is such a success that millions of people speak B1ish Broken English after ten or more years of studying and lots of invested money? I don't. It is actually a pitiful result. Given how much time and money is being sunk into the ESL industry, the average level should be at least C1.

But again, this is a thread primarily about Spanish and French.

aokoye wrote:With regards to lines of work in the US I can easily, think of a number of fields of work where spanish would be an asset (and it's not even 8am yet). Any medical field that involves communicating with patients, education (including at the administration level), culinary fields, landscaping, agriculture, various public administration jobs that are forward facing, really any customer facing job, law enforcement, journalism, and business. When push comes to shove, "learning the local language" isn't as easy I think a lot of people realize (for a whole host of reasons) and there are going to be situations where immigrants who don't speak that language are going to have to communicate with people outside of their immigrant community. It's not an simple or clear cut "well they aren't going to want to talk to you" situation.


I am curious about the future of Spanish in the US. It sounds like a lot of changes may be happening there. I have actually met a few americans on the internet recently, who were learning Spanish exactly because they were in healthcare (that is obviously the first "industry" to adapt). They quoted some of their colleagues, dismissing the importance of Spanish in the "they should just learn English" manner. But these Spanish learners understood, that the Spanish speaking community is now part of their local culture in their city too and it is also becoming an important group economically.

And the Spanish natives seem to be becoming more confident in using and expecting their language to be used.

Whether or not that will spread, I can't tell (but I'm sure I'll read a lot about it on the internet). But it is clear that French will never get such a position in the US. The natives and bilinguals (for example in Luisiana) stopped pushing their language into the society (probably for a variety of reasons, valid in the past) and learnt English.
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Re: Spanish against French: the fight to be the second global language

Postby Ser » Thu Feb 28, 2019 6:38 pm

zenmonkey wrote:By the way, can we please stop saying "South America" when we mean "Latin America" (the countries that speak Spanish or Portuguese). The largest Spanish speaking country in the world by at least a factor of 3 is in North America. And at least 30% of the Spanish speaking population in the Americas is in the northern continent.

This is not regular usage in English though. "South America" is an interchangeable synonym of "Latin America" for most English speakers. The Spanish (particularly Mexican*) usage of the term Norteamérica is generally disregarded (and not even known in my experience).

*Central America is also part of the northern part of the continent in strict geographical terms, but in Central America we tend to regard ourselves as our own separate thing, Centroamérica, opposed to Norteamérica and Sudamérica. In my experience, insisting on including Mexico as part of "North America" is more of a Mexican sociolinguistic phenomenon, or at least I've never met a Central American, whether living there or not, that made that point, even though we could try to include ourselves as North Americans as well. One thing Central Americans do get annoyed by is the English usage of "America" to refer to the United States though, just like people elsewhere in Latin America.
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Re: Spanish against French: the fight to be the second global language

Postby zenmonkey » Thu Feb 28, 2019 8:48 pm

Ser wrote:
zenmonkey wrote:By the way, can we please stop saying "South America" when we mean "Latin America" (the countries that speak Spanish or Portuguese). The largest Spanish speaking country in the world by at least a factor of 3 is in North America. And at least 30% of the Spanish speaking population in the Americas is in the northern continent.

This is not regular usage in English though. "South America" is an interchangeable synonym of "Latin America" for most English speakers. The Spanish (particularly Mexican*) usage of the term Norteamérica is generally disregarded (and not even known in my experience).

*Central America is also part of the northern part of the continent in strict geographical terms, but in Central America we tend to regard ourselves as our own separate thing, Centroamérica, opposed to Norteamérica and Sudamérica. In my experience, insisting on including Mexico as part of "North America" is more of a Mexican sociolinguistic phenomenon, or at least I've never met a Central American, whether living there or not, that made that point, even though we could try to include ourselves as North Americans as well. One thing Central Americans do get annoyed by is the English usage of "America" to refer to the United States though, just like people elsewhere in Latin America.


No, this is an incorrect and uneducated use of the term. For example, the treaty between the North American countries was called NAFTA.

Just look at any dictionary or encyclopaedia :

https://www.britannica.com/place/North-America
https://www.merriam-webster.com/diction ... %20America
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_America

Whether you want to designate people from the US as Americans or not, I don't care. But geographically speaking in terms of continental space North America is as defined above.

It's about as bad as saying people speak Mexican in Mexico. :shock:
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Re: Spanish against French: the fight to be the second global language

Postby Ser » Thu Feb 28, 2019 9:04 pm

zenmonkey wrote:[response to my post]

Yes, I am aware that such are the correct geographic definitions of "North/South America", and this is what I referred to as "strict[ly] geographical terms". Mexicans abide by standard geographical terms. What I mean to say is that common usage in a language should be recognized as well, even if the experts on the relevant field disagree with the usage. And common usage in English (and Central American Spanish) lies elsewhere.

In terms of your initial post, in which you asked us to stop using "North/South America" the way that most English speakers happen to use them, I think we can certainly start doing that in this forum (I don't mean to speak for all but I think we can). I am simply saying that this is a thing you'll find whenever you speak with English speakers, because, in the language of the majority of English speakers, "North America" refers to the US and Canada and "South America" refers to Latin America.

I see this similarly to a physicist insisting in distinguishing weight (measured in Newtons) from mass (measured in grams). When we talk about the kilograms of something we should call it the mass of the object, not its weight. This distinction is a fine, correct and noble thing to do and to try to impart to people, and one can succeeed in implementing it in a community such as an online forum, but it is simply not part of the language as spoken by most English speakers.

As an ironic and funny twist, I also mentioned that in Central America we often consider ourselves as a third thing separate from Norteamérica and Sudamérica in our manner of speaking, as if Centroamérica was not part of Norteamérica.
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Re: Spanish against French: the fight to be the second global language

Postby PeterMollenburg » Thu Feb 28, 2019 9:16 pm

Cavesa wrote:But it is clear that French will never get such a position in the US. The natives and bilinguals (for example in Luisiana) stopped pushing their language into the society (probably for a variety of reasons, valid in the past) and learnt English.


I just want to make the point that, as I read in The Story of French by Jean-Benoît Nadeau and Julie Barlow, after many Acadians were deported to Louisiana from Canada by Roosevelt and the Canadian PM at the time, later a policy of eradicating French from Louisianna was adopted by employing monolingual English speaking ‘French teachers’. They were forced to use English. And Acadians do not give up their culture and language easily.

I draw on this to illustrate, that in more ways than that which I have simply illustrated, that the future of French and Spanish, imo will be steered politically more than anything. And it won’t necessarily be one language group being promoted vs the other promoting theirs, as it could depend on which of the two languages, Spanish or French throws their hands in the air and says ‘I give up, my language is not relevant anymore, English is the global language’.

If I take a look at the world, as it currently stands with my very cynical / conspiracy like glasses on, as many of you know I can be, I’d say Spanish would win the race out of the two languages because...

...where Spanish is an official language it is more often than not the first language of the vast majority of the population, while French is often the second, third or fourth language of the vast majority of those countries in which it is official. English could replace it, and already has in some (Rwanda for example, or look at the amount of English taught now in Vietnam, Laos or Cambodia compared to French, once ifluential).

The situation of French is more politically volatile than Spanish, which is why I’m doubtful of French predictions in Africa, even if it cannot be initially displaced by English, in a more and more globalised world, English is likely to be taught more and more in Francophone Africa and eventually French could be seen as limited in the globalised world.

To add to this, the current leadership in France is very pro-EU and pro globalisition. My research tells me that at the top in France there is more care for globalisation than pushing French itself, which means English will only increase its influence in Europe and Africa.

How many universities have English taught programs in Latin American countries vs France? You can call it economics if you like, but French people need more English than do Latin Americans, particularly those from South America.

Politically, French will lose to Spanish as Latin America is slower to adapt to the global defeatest trend coupled with the economic/globalising changes or at least Spanish has a much stronger foothold in Latin America than French in Africa. This is, what I currently see continuing into the future based on the current situation, and I sincerely hope it doesn’t occur as such.
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Re: Spanish against French: the fight to be the second global language

Postby zenmonkey » Thu Feb 28, 2019 9:37 pm

Cavesa wrote:Yes, the few dozen millions in Europe may be peanuts. But they are the richest peanuts on the planet. That matters. They are the peanuts who spend a lot of money, who are active in the international business, and so on.


Stats ... ;)

This is actually changing - total GDP of Mexico is about to exceed Spain (GDP rate of growth is higher) in the next 2-3 years and the 10-20% of the wealthier people in Mexico (that's about 50% of the population of Spain) have median incomes that exceed Spain's median income. They are affluent, they travel and they speak 2-3 languages.

Rate of growth of the big emergent markets already show significant shifts - RIC, BRIC, BRICM, BEMs however you want to call them show, even at the most conservative rates of projected growth, that these economies will surpass slower growth Mediterranean countries well before by 2050.

Of the world's 200 largest companies as rated by Forbes 15 are from Mexico and 10 are from Spain, Chile has 9, etc ... (and 19 are from Brazil).

But, even if all of LatAm was just beach huts and piña coladas, it would seem that the importance of Spanish and French shifts isn't in Europe enough to counterbalance the growth of Spanish speakers just in the US alone. Total speakers (with a greater growth rate again) in the US alone exceeds Spain. So yes, I'm guessing that this gets played out outside of Europe.
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Re: Spanish against French: the fight to be the second global language

Postby zenmonkey » Thu Feb 28, 2019 9:51 pm

Ser wrote:
zenmonkey wrote:[response to my post]

Yes, I am aware that such are the correct geographic definitions of "North/South America", and this is what I referred to as "strict[ly] geographical terms". Mexicans abide by standard geographical terms. What I mean to say is that common usage in a language should be recognized as well, even if the experts on the relevant field disagree with the usage. And common usage in English (and Central American Spanish) lies elsewhere.

In terms of your initial post, in which you asked us to stop using "North/South America" the way that most English speakers happen to use them, I think we can certainly start doing that in this forum (I don't mean to speak for all but I think we can). I am simply saying that this is a thing you'll find whenever you speak with English speakers, because, in the language of the majority of English speakers, "North America" refers to the US and Canada and "South America" refers to Latin America.

I see this similarly to a physicist insisting in distinguishing weight (measured in Newtons) from mass (measured in grams). When we talk about the kilograms of something we should call it the mass of the object, not its weight. This distinction is a fine, correct and noble thing to do and to try to impart to people, and one can succeeed in implementing it in a community such as an online forum, but it is simply not part of the language as spoken by most English speakers.

As an ironic and funny twist, I also mentioned that in Central America we often consider ourselves as a third thing separate from Norteamérica and Sudamérica in our manner of speaking, as if Centroamérica was not part of Norteamérica.


I've never seen a major reference source (recognised dictionary, etc... ) that supports the idea that Mexico is in South America?

Because I think I can find many a reputable dictionary that will explain that weight has both a general definition and a specific one in physics. And it even has a different one for statistics. This is quite common for specialised terms.

I'm aware that many Americans (or English speakers) make the mistake but I find it is incorrect to say that all do, I grew up in the US, and because my father and brother live there, I visit yearly and I honestly hear both. It seems to me, that in my parents' generation this was a mistake that was a lot less common. Perhaps geography has gone the way of languages ...

Some people also talk of Europe as a single country or of speaking "African" ... but I expect that the people here, being interested in languages, culture, history, etc ... try to avoid those types of errors.
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Re: Spanish against French: the fight to be the second global language

Postby Cèid Donn » Thu Feb 28, 2019 10:39 pm

zenmonkey wrote:
Ser wrote:
zenmonkey wrote:[response to my post]

I am simply saying that this is a thing you'll find whenever you speak with English speakers, because, in the language of the majority of English speakers, "North America" refers to the US and Canada and "South America" refers to Latin America.



I've never seen a major reference source (recognised dictionary, etc... ) that supports the idea that Mexico is in South America?



What? No dictionary would, because it's geographically incorrect.

As for "whenever you speak with English speakers"....maybe this is colored by the English speakers you've personally encountered, Ser, but us Americans who live closer to Mexico know better because we live in a region of North America where people will gladly give you a geography lesson if you go and say something that ignorant. I live 5 miles from Mexico, yet over 2000 miles from the equator--do you really think if I were to take a few minutes to drive over to the US-MX border that I'm thinking I'm on my way to South America? :lol: Also, I teach in primary schools here and I can assure you, we teach our kids that Mexico and Central America (and the Caribbean) are part of North America. Please don't make generalizations like this--aside from being wrong, it's an insult to us teachers who work very hard to teach our kids properly.

Yes, there are English speakers who assume Mexico and Central America are "South America" but often they do so because of racist and cultural biases where they lump in all Latin American countries into one very derogatory cartoon in their minds that apparently overrides what they learned about world geography in the 3rd grade. I don't know what else to say about that except it's is a good example of how clinging to racist worldviews makes people incredibly stupid. But that all English speakers think this, as if it's somehow coded into our language, education and understanding of the world, is quite incorrect.
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Re: Spanish against French: the fight to be the second global language

Postby romeo.alpha » Thu Feb 28, 2019 11:12 pm

aokoye wrote:With regards to lines of work in the US I can easily, think of a number of fields of work where spanish would be an asset (and it's not even 8am yet). Any medical field that involves communicating with patients, education (including at the administration level), culinary fields, landscaping, agriculture, various public administration jobs that are forward facing, really any customer facing job, law enforcement, journalism, and business. When push comes to shove, "learning the local language" isn't as easy I think a lot of people realize (for a whole host of reasons) and there are going to be situations where immigrants who don't speak that language are going to have to communicate with people outside of their immigrant community. It's not an simple or clear cut "well they aren't going to want to talk to you" situation.


It's not as much as you think. In the US Spanish is valued less by employers than French and German, and this is even more pronounced in areas with many Spanish speakers.
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Re: Spanish against French: the fight to be the second global language

Postby romeo.alpha » Thu Feb 28, 2019 11:23 pm

Cavesa wrote:The difficulty of French is a myth. People believe it, because it has been repeated to them enough times.


It's far from a myth. The FSI ranks French as the most difficult Category 1 language. It is much harder to speak properly, and learners run up against that problem all the time.

If Spanish or Italian were so much easier, people would get to a high level more often. Do they?


They do. There are more German-Swiss who speak Italian well than who speak French well. This is despite French being a more useful language and more widely spoken in Switzerland.




So far, my reasoning seems to be much more based on the reality of language learning than yours.


Not at all. You think that only people who know what prosody is would run into difficulties with it. That's absurd.


Yes, lots of money is being spent even in the less rich countries. But that doesn't mean the people are getting the same quality for the same money. For example I could write a long post about why I am convinced that the less popular countries get native ESL teachers of significantly inferior quality, compared to the popular countries. Really, money is not a universal guarantee, despite being important.


Whatever reasons you can think of that impact the quality of EFL education in a given country, the effect will be more pronounced for FFL.

The money cannot buy everything. To get a new and numerous generation of teachers in a certain country, you simply need to wait for some people to grow up and get through their studies. It may even take a few generations. Until that happens, the language with an already established base keeps the advantage.


And yet people from countries where French doesn't have an established base, and English does, have an easier time with French than English. Your reasons don't apply.

And it is not just about that. France accepts tons of international students for exchanges. And not only from Europe. The UK is significantly less open, unless we're talking about the Commonwealth. France has a lot of bilateral exchange agreements with various countries in its traditional sphere of influence.


There's also Canada, the US, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Singapore and India among dozens of other countries where English is the official language. You're again making a mistake of being Eurocentric.

Yes, the people learn because they have to. And they learn in spite of the schools, not primarily thanks to them. Years of experience are not irrational ire, and you might notice that most people criticising this teaching approach on this forum have got the experience (some of them much more than me). I don't think the English natives with zero experience with ESL teaching should dismiss the view of people who have actually got the experience learning this language.


I don't see why I shouldn't dismiss the opinions of someone who dismisses the experience of others who have successfully learned the language. All that tells me is that they have a bias they don't know how to reign in.

Really, do you think it is such a success that millions of people speak B1ish Broken English after ten or more years of studying and lots of invested money? I don't. It is actually a pitiful result. Given how much time and money is being sunk into the ESL industry, the average level should be at least C1.


Many people speak far better than B1ish Broken English. If you need a straw man to make your argument, that's a sign you don't actually have one.
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