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LANGUAGE AND CULTURE

Could German language be forgotten in France?

The German ambassador to France has met the education minister to air her concerns about the decline of German language classes for French students, as new reforms threaten to push the language to a fourth option.

Could German language be forgotten in France?
Students in Strasbourg, eastern France. Photo: AFP
The German Ambassador to France Suzanne Wasum-Rainer met with Education Minister Najat Vallaud-Belkacem on Monday night for "extensive discussions" about the number of students in France learning the German language, reported Le Figaro newspaper
 
At the heart of the matter is a slew of education reforms that are on the table in France which would see a shift in the way younger children are taught second and third languages. 
 
The reforms, which are scheduled to take effect in September next year, include measures for pupils to start learning their second foreign language at the age of 12, one year earlier than they currently do.
 
This extra time spent on a new language could mean that cuts are made elsewhere, which would likely mean a removal of "bilingual" or "international" classes.
 

(Education Minister Najat Vallaud-Belkacem. Photo: AFP)
 
And as many pupils opt for English as their number one choice of a second language, and often prefer Spanish as the easiest third alternative – the Germans are worried their language will be forgotten.
 
Ever since the 1963 treaty, France and Germany have both worked to teach each other's languages in schools as part of a reconciliation programme, and the bilingual classes have been seen as a strong part of this tradition.
 
Vallaud-Belkacem has argued these classes are generally reserved for "elite" students, reported Le Figaro, and that she wanted second languages to be accessible "for everyone".
 
Ambassador Wasum-Rainer, however, is not alone when it comes to the concern of the bilingual classes being scrapped.
 
Joachim Umlauf, the head of the Goethe Institute which promotes the study of the German language abroad, has slammed the reforms and said that learning German in France has about the same priority as growing orchids
 
Fifty-nine MPs who are part of a Franco-German unity group also signed a letter for the education minister outlining their own worries on the matter.
 
While the outcome of their discussions remains unknown for now, Vallaud-Belkacem is adamant that it's time to deal with a disparity in French schools. She said recently that France's high school education system (collège) is "doing badly" and pupils' results are deteriorating, 
 
"The problem with French high school pupils today is that they are bored. We need to reawaken their appetite," she said at the time. 
 
Her reforms aim especially to address the issues of children who are falling behind, in an effort to change what some have referred to as France's elitist school curriculum. 
 

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GERMAN

The new German words that perfectly describe the coronavirus pandemic

From Impfneid (vaccine envy) to Abstandbier (socially distanced beer), these words are so hot right now.

The new German words that perfectly describe the coronavirus pandemic
AFP

It’s often said that the Germans have a word for everything – and that’s true in corona times as well. Around 200 new words including Impfneid (vaccine envy) and Abstandbier (socially distanced beer) have been added to a list of new words by the Leibniz Institute for the German language.

1. When it’s all become too much.

For those feeling overwhelmed by the year-long pandemic, there is Coronaangst (Corona anxiety), coronamüde (corona tired) or überzoom (too much zoom).

2. Love in the time of corona

If you have a specific cuddle partner, they are your Kuschelkontact (cuddle contact). More bleakly, Todesküsschen (little kiss of death) has became synonymous with a friendly kiss on the cheek.

3. Keeping your distance from everybody

The term Babyelefant is now a common concept for anyone living in Austria, where we are urged to keep a “baby elephant’s” distance from one another.

A CoronaFußgruß (corona foot greeting) has replaced the traditional handshake upon meeting people. 

4. Panic at the start of the first lockdown

The process of the pandemic can be tracked through new words emerging. At the beginning of lockdown last March, the word Hamsteritis (hamster buying) was widely used, referring to panic buying as similar to a hamster filling its cheeks with food to eat later.

Added to that was Klopapierhysterie, or hysteria over toilet paper running about.

5. Balcony entertainment

As people began singing from their balconies during the spring lockdown, the word Balkonsänger (balcony singer) came into use, along with Balkonklatscher (balcony clapper) Balkonkonzert (balcony concert) and of course Balkonmusik (balcony music).

6. Watching sport during the pandemic

You might want to try out an Abstandsjubeltanz, loosely translated as a socially distanced choreographed dance when celebrating your football team’s win.

7. Mask wearing

The Germans have adopted the British term Covidiot, but have a more specific word of Maskentrottel (mask idiot), for someone who wears their face covering under their nose. A mask worn this way can also be described as a Kinnwärmer or chin warmer.

A mask worn correctly is sometimes referred to as a Gesichtskondom (face condom).

8. Waiting forever for a vaccine

Germany and the EU’s slow vaccine rollout has led to many experiencing Impfneid or vaccine envy as other countries race ahead in vaccinating their citizens. 

The words were found by the team of researchers by combing through press reports, social media and the wider internet.

You can find the whole list of new words here

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