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.
The FSI classification applies only to the English natives. Not universally.
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.
That sounds interesting, would you happen to have a link to some data on this, please?
Also,following this logic, why are there so few high level Spanish second langauge speakers, if it is so widely learnt and so much easier, as you say?
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.
That's not what I wrote at all. I wrote about people not caring about prosody at all while choosing the language, I didn't write anything at all about anyone struggling with it or not while learning
People do not choose based on prosody. What people fear (and what makes them not choose a particular language) and the real problems the learners face are two absolutely different things.
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.
Not really. We were talking about countries with an already established FLE tradition. Those have already invested time, money, and efforts in the last decades (or centuries) and are profiting from it. The expensive ESL business simply cannot outweight that so fast.
The only instances, in which your statement will be definitely true, will be the countries with no continuous tradition in either language. For example the Czech Republic. In the 90's it was starting from zero in both, with the language learning tradition almost completely severed. But that is simply not true about the north african countries, those already have a tradition in either French (more of them) or English, or both.
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.
Please, reread the topic of the discussion. This is about language learning. Whether the anglophone countries are making tons of exchanges among themselves has zero effect on the amount of language learners.
And as the thread is primarily about French vs Spanish, not French vs English, you might also note that the Spanish speaking countries also have a lot of such ties among themselves, and that doesn't affect Spanish learning by others at all either. There are actually rather few purely francophone countries (which has been noted in the thread at various points), so they interact more with the rest and that does affect French learning.
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.
Your profile states that English is your native language. If your profile is correct, it is impossible for you to have first hand experience with learning English as a second language.
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.
The Broken English is unfortunately prevailing. Not in all the countries, there are exceptions like Sweden, the Netherlands, Norway. But in vast majority of countries, the Broken English is the standard in the international companies (it is absolutely normal for a team of people with various languages to understand each other well and struggle a lot with a native), in tourism, and so on.
This is no straw man, this is the reality, also discussed on this forum at various occassions. Just travel a bit, or widen your social sphere, and you'll see it too.
If you need to divert the discussion to other subjects than the original one, it is a clear sigh you have little to say about it.
zjones wrote:I think you're spot-on about the status of French and Spanish in America. When choosing languages for school, the advice I hear the most often in Western America is "Choose Spanish, it's more useful". However, if you choose to learn Spanish, nobody cares because they assume you're just learning it for the utility aspect. If you choose French, German or Italian, people will be impressed and ask you questions about it. (In fact, I think there's a widespread belief in the US that French is much more difficult than Spanish.) Spanish is low-brow, French is high-brow. I think it has everything to do with the history of Spanish-speakers in the United States. I'm really glad to hear that the situation is changing.
FYI my sister says that you are much more likely to be hired in Portland, OR for entry-level jobs if you speak Spanish in addition to English.
Yes, this seems to be a common attitude among the americans. It is nice to see any foreign language becoming the norm for job hunting!
It is a question, whether French could improve its "score" by losing the image of being "high-brow", or perhaps rather by keeping it. Yes, there is a lot the francophone countries could do to widen the spectrum of potential learners. But perhaps reassuring the old target audience, the intellectuals (I am using the word for lack of a better one, I mean people who identify as such, who value education, and who are likely to pick among the higbrow languages) that French is still a good choice, would be great.
Saim wrote:Maybe I'm just pessimistic, but I don't think there is a "second place" to be won: the middle points of the ladder are being sawed out. Either we destroy linguistic hierarchies altogether or we will end up with a hierarchy that has much less rungs and increasingly more languages being squeezed into the lower rungs, and with those currently on the lower rungs dying out.
In the long term the future of French and Spanish is going to be essentially the same as that of Polish or Romanian -- either random points in a celebrated cacophony of human diversity (where English would also be another point), or little ethnic languages completely subordinated to English.
The ladder under attack looks like a precise picture of what is happening. I suppose French is falling down this ladder.
Edit: the crazy quotes