Congres Frans begins
The message is loud and clear: Holland's issues with language learning are more similar to Scotland and England's problems than we might think. The Dutch have a reputation as being language learners extraordinaire but there is still, says our opening speaker, too much emphasis on the Anglo-American in our 'Western World' (what is the West nowadays, anyway?)
It sounds as if, perhaps like at home, learners don't always see the point in learning French and other non-English languages. There is a lack of motivation to learn something which, in an age when school tends to value what is useful in a rather narrow way, is the first to go when put alongside the sciences, media and social studies. And in Holland, fewer and fewer are choosing French, despite it often being the language that makes the difference, the language that made Scotland great during the Enlightenment and continues to make a difference in the world of politics, decision-making and international affairs.
I'm happy with the opening speech since my talk this afternoon shows how languages are really at the centre of creativity and multimedia work, if we choose to make them so. But it's not good enough to have one or two individuals making strides to use multimedia, social media and other creative tools with their learners. It needs to be a united front, a global effort on the part of all language teachers, to make a dent in this world which, rightly or (probably more likely) wrongly, places too much value on English as a lingua franca.
That's where tomorrow's talk on how teachers can get themselves together will fit in. Using technology with learners is great, but it's seen as 'fun', motivating icing on the cake. Let's show them that social technology can unite those individual great teachers like nothing before, and amplify their practice.
Chapeau pour le français!