In an All India webinar organized by the Embassy of France / Institut Français in India and the Alliance Française network, in collaboration with Campus France India, the Ambassador of France to India, H.E. Emmanuel Lenain elaborated on French as an international language and its rapid rise partly on account of increasing speakers in the African continent.
He highlighted the over 300 million francophonia and an even larger francophile, especially in the Indian sub-continent thanks to a shared history.
French is one of the most popular and most learned foreign languages in India. In a linguistically diverse country as India, Learning French the French Way, without another connecting language like English, comes naturally as evident from thousands of French learners and speakers who picked up this asset without forsaking their native tongue. And today, courtesy digital learning, one can learn French Anytime,Anywhere.
According to Lenain, “The development of the French language is part of a global scheme presented by President Emmanuel Macron in March 2018. India is a priority in this plan and boasts of the largest network of Alliance Françaises in Asia.
We will encourage more Alliances Françaises in the country thanks to a large demand”. The Ambassador also cited COVID-19 as a factor in the speeding up digitalization of the network enabling access to students including those far away from city centres.
He enunciated the benefits of learning French especially in the context of higher education in France and working for French companies both in India and France.
On this subject the Ambassador mentioned, “Next year will not be a blank year as we will make sure that students go to France to study even if it means a few weeks of online learning in the beginning. I am confident that onsite teaching will resume soon given the improvement in the sanitary situation of France. For now, I advise you to apply and prepare everything so that once the visa services begin, and this will be soon, your visa requests can be expedited”.
Dr Samuel Berthet, Director of the Alliance Française in Hyderabad highlighted that the Alliances Françaises in India, while discussing today’s world were actively contributing to the future world.
He traced the historical context of French language in India – be it Toru Dutt’s first novel in French written in 1879, the establishment of India’s first Alliance Française in Pondichéry in 1889 or the role of business families such as the Tatas and the Godrej family.
The Alliance Françaises are vehicles of technical and scientific cooperation between India and France as well as dissemination of culture besides discovery of both France and India.
David Petit Jean, Academic Coordinator for French Language at the Alliance Française in Mumbai, highlighted teaching of French as a foreign language as amongst the fortés of the Alliance Française which embraced the Common European Framework for language learning a global standard.
He elaborated on the 6 levels of proficiency, certifications of the French Ministry of Education and an action-oriented approach to teaching. A critical strength during the pandemic included adoption of a digital platform, ‘My Alliance’ which enabled continuity between classroom and individual learning.
Rhéa Cheryl Shivan, Campus France Manager in Chennai, informed on the 12-city network of Campus France, the agency under the French Ministry of External Affairs and the French Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Training.
She highlighted the significance of the mutual recognition of degrees between India and France as well as an increase in scholarships for Indian students – scholarships worth over Rs 10 crore are awarded annually to Indian students to study in France.
In the wake of the pandemic, Campus France remains fully operational online and continues to guide thousands of Indian students wanting to study in France.
Eric Perrotel, Attaché for cooperation in the French language, based in Chennai, spoke about cooperation with Indian schools especially development of training programmes in teaching French. 40000 students are enrolled in French language programmes in Indian Universities in addition to 6 lakh learners in schools and others at the Alliance Françaises in India.
He informed on the French schools in India which accommodated around 1000 students including Indian students. Finally, he mentioned the Assistants Programme wherein Indian and French students got an opportunity to teach English and French respectively in each other’s countries for a period of 7 and 9 months each.