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French is a hit despite political tensions

Video by Henry MORTON

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2008-10-28

Paris and Beijing may be feeling the political tension but 30,000 Chinese people are learning French. A success that has more to do with trade opportunities in Africa than a real passion for the French language.

Despite political tensions between Paris and Beijing, an estimated 30,000 Chinese take French lessons.


Everybody who’s in the job market right now or will be in a few years speaks English,” says Marie Rabin, who teaches French in China. “So they need to specialize by learning a new language.”


 The French Alliance in Beijing counts 5,000 students and it is one of the country’s biggest French learning centres. Half of its students will go on to study in France, for sometimes very different reasons.


Love for French culture isn’t the only reason Chinese are learning French these days. Africa has become the new driving force behind China’s newfound interest for the French language.


“They need French […] to develop trade relations with French-speaking countries, and Africa in particular,” says André de Bussy, the French Alliance’s general delegate in China.


French-speaking Chinese remain a minority compared to those who speak English, Russian, Korean or Japanese. But this could change : The Beijing’s French Alliance saw a 15% increase in student registration this year.
 

Date created : 2008-10-17

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