June 13, 2021

“National education has been the major instrument of the linguistic unification policy in France”

This interview appears in “Le Monde de l’Education”. If you are subscribed to World, you can subscribe to this weekly newsletter by following this link.

In a decision of May 21, the Constitutional Council censored part of the so-called “Molac” bill on regional languages. The high court notably ruled unconstitutional “immersive” pedagogy, in which students have lessons all day almost entirely in a language other than French. While a day of mobilization in defense of the teaching of regional languages ​​took place on May 29, Emmanuel Macron said he had “Called on the government and Parliament to find the means to guarantee [la] transmission » of regional languages ​​by the 180 French immersive schools. Three questions to Philippe Blanchet, professor of sociolinguistics and language teaching at Rennes-II University, and specialist in pronvençal language.

Article reserved for our subscribers Read also Immersive pedagogy: in the Diwan school in Rennes, “Breton is only ‘more'”

What is immersive pedagogy?

All methods of teaching foreign languages ​​try to tend towards immersion. In addition to language trips or the Erasmus program, which are based on this pedagogy, many students have experienced English lessons in which only this language is authorized to speak, where the teacher takes care to hang on to the poster walls, etc. Immersion mimics the way one learns spontaneously, making language no longer just an object of learning limited to a few hours a week, but a means of linguistic, social and cultural learning, which does not mean to exclude other languages.

And does it work?

Obviously more than non-immersive pedagogies. This is also what we have always used in France to teach French, especially at a time when children spoke overwhelmingly regional languages ​​… For thirty years, research has shown that children who grow up or learn by using several languages ​​develop better capacities in these two languages, but also in other disciplines. A study by Inspe de Bretagne thus showed how students confronted with different counting systems in Breton and in French, develop a skill in mathematics by having to compare them in order to understand them.

What role does school play with regard to regional languages?

The majority of the students in the Diwan network have parents who speak very little Breton, while their grandparents speak or still spoke Breton. They were victims of an interruption in the transmission of the language due to the French Jacobin policy in the matter. This one, which already weighed on their ancestors since the XIXe century, ended up bearing fruit from the 1960s.

You have 11.34% of this article left to read. The rest is for subscribers only.