Sacré bleu! French to force children to learn English from the age of THREE, if President Sarkozy gets his way.
By Oliver Pickup on 31st January 2011

Nicolas Sarkozy has left French traditionalists wiping Burgundy's finest rouge from their whiskers in disgust after proposing that the country's youth be forced to learn the English language from as as early as nursery school.

The French President, who has recently come under fire for his own grasp of Francais, has said that he wants France's youngsters to learn 'the language of Shakespeare'.
And now he has further enraged a proud - and sensitive - nation by suggesting that French children should learn the Queen's English... from as young as THREE.
Difference of opinion: While Nicolas Sarkozy wants French
children to learn English from a very early age

General Charles de Gaulle - one of the most
celebrated French leaders - never uttered
a word of English in public
It is the complete opposite of the approach taken by one of France's most famous leaders, Charles de Gaulle, who refused to parlez Anglais in public.
The French general and statesman, who led the Free French Forces during World War II, founded the French Fifth Republic in 1958 and served as its first President from 1959 to 1969.
He would turn in his grave at Mr Sarkozy's latest suggestions about linguistics - a move that critics fear will dilute the cherished French language and halt its dissemination.
The mooted educational change has sparked intense debate in France, with staunch right-wing traditionalist intellectual Eric Zemmour dipping his oar, praising his country's resistance to learn English.
Under new proposals three-year olds in France could soon be forced to learn English
It is, he was quoted as saying in the Sunday Times, 'a sort of unconscious linguistic
resistance to the colonisation of minds'.
Mr Zemmour said that the desire to study English is just a 'fad', akin to 'learning German during the occupation'.
However, Mr Sarkozy's Education Minister, Luc Chatel this week said: 'Not mastering English in France these days is a handicap.'
He said that plans were afoot to educate three-year olds English with the help of computers - in England school pupils tend to take on a foreign language at the age of 11, though some start earlier.
'Three years old seems much too young for me,' teacher and linguist Claude Hagege told the Sunday Times, arguing that at that age a child will not have even mastered their mother tongue by then.
  Admired: Mr Sarkozy wants the French youth to
learn the language of England's famous
playwright William Shakespeare
Bizarrely, under new educational reforms signed off by Mr Sarkozy, some 1,000 language teachers are to lose their jobs this coming year.
Some say that the plans are a reaction to the president's personal frustration at not being fluent in English, and missing out on some of the jocular banter that flies at the world leaders' top table.
It is the latest in a growing list of perceived anti-French behaviour by President Sarkozy, who turned 56 on Friday.
Earlier in January a minister leapt to the defence of Mr Sarkozy after the President was accused of speaking in a vulgar and common manner and without paying due attention to normal grammatical rules.
Again Mr Chatel backed his boss and hit back at an opposition MP who had criticised the way Mr Sarkozy, who was elected in 2007, spoke to his public.
But his long-winded letter addressed to François Loncle caused even more embarrassment for the French President.
After reading the Education Minister's letter, Mr Loncle said: 'At least Luc Chatel recognises that Nicolas Sarkozy speaks badly.'
The exchange stirred the linguistic passions in France, a proud country who have a number of celebrated authors including Victor Hugo, John-Paul Sartre, Gustave Flaubert and Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, more famously known as Molière.
And less than a fortnight ago Mr Sarkozy once again caused outrage by suggesting that the Alsace region which his country won back from the Nazis after World War II was still ‘in Germany’.
He made the hugely embarrassing mistake during a speech in the Alsatian town of Truchtersheim, which is less than 20 miles from the German border.
And Mr Sarkozy, who comes from a Hungarian background, with Greek blood on his maternal side, is regularly accused of not being French enough.
His third wife, Carla Bruni, is an Italian by birth and Mr Sarkozy’s lack of historical knowledge has also been criticised in the past.
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