French ‘strikingly bad’ in English

International report shows France fourth bottom of European table and sinking fast at global level

9 December 2015

ONLY Russians, Turks and Azerbijanis speak worse English than the French in Europe – and France lies half-way down the world league table for English-speakers.

A report on language teaching labelled France as being so far behind its western European neighbours “that whether due to a cultural aversion to English or an inability to reform its education system, France is on a different trajectory from them”.

This is shown in the global table produced by international language teaching group Education First where France has fallen eight places over the past year to 37th in the table of 70 world countries.

Coming after online oral tests on more than 900,000 18-30 year olds, the report showed that, across continental Europe and across the world, women speak better English than men and that speaking better English means a higher income.

In a report, Le Monde highlighted possible reasons for France’s failure such as the ‘phonetic’ order of the French language, with its lack of stress – as word stress plays a major part in English - but it said the major problem was that English was taught too late in school life.
@Levskies @DelphineMauger @1D_Olivia__ hello are you va ? Sorry i don't speak anglais very bien #MTVStars One direction— bamfreese_Laeti (@bamfreese) December 8, 2015

Report author Kate Bell said that the results were significant as they were concentrated on young people, so showed immediately which countries were succeeding in teaching English and, as this is the survey’s eighth year, also showed which ones were adapting to improve.

Here France trails traditional strong ‘English’ countries like the Scandinavians, with Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland filling four of the top five places and the Netherlands slotting into second place.

France, along with Italy and Spain were highlighted as three of the four largest non-English-speaking countries in Europe but while Italy and Spain “have both shown some improvements over the past eight years”, France remains strikingly weak.

And the report said even other latin countries such as Romania were improving better than France while other francophone countries like Luxembourg, Switzerland and Belgium left it trailing.

Ms Bell said that “year on year we see France losing places. Its fall relative to other countries is much faster, it’s striking.”
(tout a l'heure en anglais)
prof:what happened behind you emma?
prof: what's on your back?
emma: yes— al (@bernareforever) December 4, 2015

She told Le Monde that in France pupils learned spoken English in classes of 30 or more while languages were best taught in smaller classes – with a maximum of 10 being best. In larger classes pupils were more self-aware of making a mistake, so preferred not to speak at all and in many cases teachers focused more on writing.

Lack of computers was also highlighted, as was teaching biased towards grammar and literature rather than everyday speech.

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