Friday, June 20, 2008


My colleague, Pierre des Indies, writes an interesting blog about his life as an expatriate Frenchman in India, often illustrated with wonderful photographs he has taken. He recently made a very radical post (English version) which examines the language barrier that prevents many young, mobile Indians from considering spending some part of the their studies and/or career in France. He ends with the suggestion that the top French educational establishments should ease this problem by teaching in English. When I read this suggestion, I feared for his safety at the hands of the provisional brigade of the Académie française; clearly he has been away from France for too long.

However, reading the Economist recently, I found that Pierre is not so avant garde; the "Toulouse School of Econonics" (sic), a graduate school of the University of Toulouse 1 which has English only teaching opened recently.

Perhaps, after all, Pierre will make it back to India alive from his current vacation in his homeland.


Steven Ericsson-Zenith said...

As I recall, English has long been a primary language in French academia. When I did my work there many, if not most, lectures and seminars I attended were given in English (of course, this was to a degree self-selecting). And I never really encountered any problems day to day. My own French being lamentably poor and my colleagues preferring to speak in English.

The only challenge that I really faced was that during my defense the committee insisted upon asking their questions in French. To which I could only respond intelligently in English.

The title of the thesis also caused a little fracas. They preferred the English version and, irritated, the Chair ferociously scratched out the French version. Apparently I had allowed the poetic side of me wax a little too lyrical.

Pierre des Indes said...

So far, reactions I've received from compatriots are not too conservature, much less than what I was expecting. Less than what they would have been 10 years back.
Mindsets are evolving (that's maybe why I've been safe since that post...)

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