‘The useless modern foreign languages such as French’. That lovely quote was in an article I was reading in the Independent last week. ‘Ridiculous’ was my first thought (and still is) but let’s put it into context. The quote came from former government minister Chris Bryant when he was (we assume) trying to defend the actions of the previous Labour government’s failures to increase foreign language learning to school children. Chris Bryant wasn’t saying that languages shouldn’t be taught; on the contrary he was encouraging the teaching of foreign languages but just the ‘useful’ ones which he quoted as ‘Mandarin, Spanish, and Portuguese‘!
We’ve blogged before about the previous government lobbying to get languages such as Mandarin on the school curriculum but what amazed me was that a language like French that is so poplar and widely spoken was branded as useless by Chris! In our job as recruiters we see lots of jobs that specifically require French, which certainly shows it is not useless. More to the point shouldn’t we be encouraging the learning of languages whether it be French, German or Mandarin?
As pointed out in the article ‘according to some estimates it [French] has 265 million native or second language speakers, more than Arabic for instance, and is the most important trading language in large parts of Africa and elsewhere’. Clearly then in our opinion French is not useless and will continue to be an important language for the foreseeable future regardless of what an ex minister claims!!