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The French are getting alarmed about the English invasion. It's not that they’re concerned about a sneak attack by her majesty’s Royal Navy. They see a bigger threat; the erosion of their language under a constant barrage of English words that have crept into common every day usage- like ‘Le Weekend’ and ‘Le French Fries’ and all the technical jargon that comes with the Internet age.
Prior to World War II, French was the language of diplomacy and commerce. French Lycees (high schools) were founded all over the world and elites from Russia to Egypt and beyond considered it essential to master the language. French remains one of the six official languages in the United Nations.
For a host of reasons, France and other countries invest in promoting their own language around the globe. That's why many countries finance foreign language institutes that offer subsidized language courses in major American cities. So, if you want to learn a foreign language you don't have to pay thousands of dollars just to get a basic competency. If you live in a major city, you can learn French, Spanish, or Italian on the cheap. Here's how you can do it.
In the United States, the French are defending their language through a network of language institutes that offer intensive language courses at very reasonable rates. L’Alliance Francaise centers can be found in virtually every major city in the world. In the United States, they’re literally all over the place with over 130 chapters stretching from Birmingham Alabama to Seattle Washington. Go to http://www.alliance-us.org to find the address and contact information of a chapter near your home. You might want to consider signing up for one of their courses to get a good feel for the language and culture before boarding that plane to Paris. The local chapters are also an excellent resource for valuable tips to help you make your travel plans.
It goes without saying that some of the best Alliance Francaise centers are in France. Back when Europe was an affordable destination for students, I signed up for a two month course at the Paris campus. It was a great place to meet other students from all over the world which made for a great social life. There is nothing like language immersion and the beauty of studying French in Paris is that you can practice your newly acquired linguistic skills on the millions of people that happen to call the place home.
Now if your purse can’t handle Paris, there is always Montreal where the dollar goes a lot further. Check out www.alliancefrancaise.ca and do the math. Depending on where you live, you might just be able to get there on a tank of gas.