Bonjour.

Ca va?

Je m’appelle Affaires de Famille et je vais en Angleterre à Londres.

Je suis trés vieux et consequentment je suis en difficulté avec apprendre des mots français. Ce TRES DIFFICILE et je suis MERDE AT IT parce que mon brain cellules ne répondent pas.

La semaine après semaine je suis attempting to stuff mots dans mon tête avec non la chance et aussi mon accent es tres SHIT et même mon mère dit cette qui est vraiment déprimant (used Google translate for that last bit – don’t even know those longer words yet).

There has been a massive decline in students taking GCSE languages and university undergraduate courses in Modern foreign Languages and we are at a 20 year low. Should we be worried? What IS the point of learning a language and is it still worth it? I’m hesitant to be as horrified at the significant drop as the group of MP’s and peers who have recently requested urgent government intervention in Britain’s dwindling language skills, because the drop clearly coincides with the amount of people around the world who are speaking English. That is clearly not to say that it’s a good thing that us lazy Brits are in the luxury position of not needing to learn another language in the same way as other members of our global world – I do see that as a potential weakness, not a strength and it’s only going to get worse if we isolate ourselves from Europe.

The problem is that A level languages are impossibly difficult to do and understandably our young people are put off by that. The only people I know who successfully speak more than one languages are those who are either incredibly gifted or they have a purpose – have either lived abroad or have parents that speak different languages to them from in the womb.

I am very disappointed that I didn’t learn a language when I was young and have been trying to make up for it recently by starting French lessons basically from scratch. I’d love to be someone who speaks different languages, it just seems so utterly impressive to be able to converse and get under the skin of another culture (and know what they are saying about you behind your back). But I have discovered that language is clearly a game for the young, when the brain cells are perky and responsive. If I had known I was going to have a late urge to learn French, I’d have tried much harder to pay attention in my lessons, but my excuse is that I was living in Hong Kong and far more interested in learning how to swear and get myself home in a taxi in Cantonese. I didn’t even know where France was on the map. Now I am learning French to mainly annoy my mother, but she has recently threatened to cut me out of her will if I move to France post-Brexit, so I might need to rethink the plan. But I love the idea of sitting in French cafés all day long.

Perhaps it should be us oldies who start learning different languages and upping the statistics – helping out with our new international trade deals and so forth. FEAR NOT, I am coming to the rescue. One aujourd’hui at a time. It’s just taking beaucoup longer than I thought it would because I don’t yet know the days of the week, the moins of the années or what to dit when it snows, so I don’t think I’ll be trés helpful in helping them negotiate on the global stage just yet.

I don’t think the argument about having Google translate apps is very relevant to be honest. That should not stop people learning to speak a different language. We are quite far away from being able to converse with a fellow human being whilst having our words translated, so it’s not a particularly immersive way to experience another culture.

So yes, I think that learning a language is still worth it, but it’s not easy and I get why you wouldn’t bother these days….it is très difficile.

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