Thursday, March 13, 2008

Language Lessons

Lucky for me, but maybe not so lucky for the majority of my Thursday morning classmates, our professor has an affinity for assigning weekly readings in English. Of the five articles we've had to read so far, only two have been in French. In fact, on the first day of class he made it perfectly clear that in addition to working with English texts, we should feel free to express opinions, join in on discussions, and even conduct our required presentation in English.

I have to admit that I was more than a little surprised at this turn of events. In the 18 years of my life that have been spent in school, I have never had to do homework in a foreign language except, of course, for French class. However, these French students (and other non-native English speaking foreigners) are flat-out expected to be able to complete graduate level work in English. I can tell you right now that there is not one single foreign language that my colleagues at AU and myself would be able to all work in together. Our second languages of choice run the gamut. But, as the professor said, "English is the language of international politics."

Now, I'm not going to complain about coming all the way to France just to do homework en anglais. On the contrary, it makes my life a whole lot easier, and I still have two other classes that are all French, all the time. My intent is merely to highlight the ever-expanding reach of the English language and the surprising ways in which Americans (as well as other Anglophones) abroad discover the pervasiveness of their native tongue.

Oh, and just in case you're wondering, I'm still going to give my presentation in French. After 18 years of giving them in English, I think it might be nice to try something new.

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