By Revival Ojedapo.
The recent corona-virus pandemic might have forced closure of borders around the world, but it certainly has not dampened the resolve of countries to relate with one another. This age of globalization has ushered in advanced form of communication, creating a virtual web of interconnectedness between people from different nationalities accross the world. One could be in their house in Lagos exchanging information with another living in Paris.
Language is key to communication, and it is safe to say, the more languages you speak, the more versatile you become.
The teaching of French language has suffered a rollercoaster ride in Nigeria’s educational sector. Many factors stack up against the actualisation of a full fledged entrenchment of the language into the curriculum. These factors are no different from the general problems facing the educational sector in general.
As the government seeks to revamp the sector, it is important to consider how the country would fit into the global space. This is a task that is not only for the government, but also for parents and guardians.
The importance of French has been stated and restated several times before, even by top government officials. Nevertheless, it is important to be reminded of some of the cogent points.
Firstly, Nigeria is already geographically positioned where it can least afford to dismiss the importance of speaking and understanding the language. Surrounded all round by French countries, Nigerians are naturally drawn to their neighbours. There are millions of Nigerians who’ve had reasons to venture into these countries, and language barrier hasn’t always been easy on them.
Secondly, French language is already becoming indispensable to running an international career. The world is closing in really fast, and businesses are quickly expanding their affairs to include people from everywhere. It is already an established rule for international organizations that employees should be fluent in two or more international languages. This trend is spreading fast into other enterprises.
Thirdly, and most importantly, it broadens the horizons of the mind; not only for career purposes, but also for personal growth. This latter point may seem aloof, only because it is a long-term and subtle development, but it is a lasting advantage. Learning a new language, in general, enhances memory function. A research published on LiveScience website shows that:
“learning a new language may improve people’s thinking skills and memory abilities”.Learning new languages.
This is priceless, one that every parent must wish for their children, seeing how various distractions abound in the present-day society.
But, why French? Why not some other language, like German or Spanish? It is believed that language can throw you right into the heart of a culture, and the French culture is one of the most exciting out there. It is rich in history, and has an overbearing allure. “Le rayonnement de la France” is a popular expression used to convey the beauty and spread of French culture.
One could argue that other languages have same effect, but Nigeria has long been associated with French language, and it is only reasonable that we encourage it. Others may argue that we ought to focus on establishing our indigenous languages. This is perfectly understandable, and of paramount interest. To this, one can only say that the learning French language doesn’t put any of our indigenous languages at risk. They’re not mutually exclusive; on the contrary, one would marvel at the similarities between these languages, and how the study of one could only enhance the understanding of the other. French teachers, for example, often find themselves referencing native languages of their students.
In conclusion, globalization has thrown us into a melting pot, and it would be a great advantage to build a generation prepared to take strategic positions in world affairs.
One of the ways of achieving this goal is by learning a global language or a language with many global speakers. French Language is one of those Languages.