There are thousands of languages arround the world and being multi–lingual is a goal for many people. We look at language learning around the world. We go to Luxembourg which is a multi-lingual society, and to France where a Japanese teacher tries to bring her culture to those who are away from home. And to Ireland where Gaelic is in danger of dying out.
In one school in the suburbs of Dublin they teach Gaelic to very young children. They may not speak the language much outside school, but their parents want them to be as bi-lingual as possible. In other adult classes, people learn Gaelic in the evening classes and then practice the language in the pub downstairs.
In Luxemburg, multi-linguism is part of daily life. Surrounded by France, Germany and Belgium, around 40% of the Luxembourg population is of foreign origin. The three official languages are French, German and Luxembourg. Luxembourg is ranked as the richest country in per capita income in the world. And languages are an essential part of keeping this small country competitive.
So it’s no surprise that learning languages takes up a lot of pupils’ time. Which is a source of constant debate. Mady Delvaux-Stehres, the Minister of Education said: “We are the European country which spends most classroom time on languages. On average, around 25% of teaching time is spent on it. The question is how to reconcile language-learning with successful learning in other subjects.”
Minako Nakashima has been in France for 4 years, but she still lives a Japanese routine. She gets up at 5am and answers her emails while sipping tea that her friends being from Japan, then catches up on the news before she goes off to her teaching job at a large international school in Lyon, France.
The Cite Scolaire International is a state school teaching the normal French state curriculum – except for 6 hours a week when the pupils do lessons in the language of their international section.
Minako Nakashima leads a team of four Japanese techers. There are 52 pupils in the section, and some of them have just arrived from Japan. Exchanges between the international sections is encouraged; school trips, theatre, shared activities.
After school, Minako often goes home and puts her kimono on. She misses Japan, but when she goes back there, she misses France.