Tag Archives: english

Teach English at French Universities 2022-2023

Teach English at French Universities 2022-2023

Welcome to the 2022-2023 list of English lecteur / lectrice and maître de langue positions at French universities!

If you have finished at least one year of a Master’s degree, you may be eligible to apply to teach English at the university level in France. Please read through the English lecteur / lectrice information. If your university has a job listing to advertise, feel free to e-mail me at ielanguages@gmail.com.

Open lecteur/lectrice/maître de langue positions for the 2022-2023 academic year (earliest deadline dates first)

Maître de langues position University of Angers – september 2022 to 2023

The University of Angers is looking for a Maître de Langues in English, for its Law and Business department for the academic year 2022-2023.

To apply you need to be either a native speaker of English or have a native speaker command of the language, speak decent French, and preferably some form of training in Law, or at least have a keen interest in judicial issues, to apply for this position.

You will be required to teach across the range from L1 to M2 and be in charge of developing all or part of the course material. Past experience of teaching English as a foreign language and course development is therefore greatly appreciated.

The statutory hours for the position is 192 hours per annum, to which 192 of overtime hours are usually added

The contract is for 1 year, and can be renewed once.

To apply send your CV and cover letter to sonia.bruzac@univ-angers.fr and damienne.meunier@univ-angers.fr AS SOON AS POSSIBLE, as the entire application procedure must be carried out throughout April.

La Faculté de Médecine de Montpellier/Nîmes recrute actuellement deux lecteurs d’anglais ayant un très bon niveau de français ayant de préférence de l’expérience en tant qu’enseignant. Niveau Master (Master’s Degree) exigé. Il s’agit d’enseigner de l’anglais spécialisé (Médecine, Orthophonie, Orthoptie…) et notamment la lecture d’un article médical.

Les recrutements sont ouverts sur le site CAMPEC jusqu’au 18/4/22.

L’antenne de Beauvais de l’Université de Picardie Jules Verne recherche un maître ou une maîtresse de langue pour l’année universitaire 2022-2023 afin d’assurer des cours de civilisation et de langue anglaise auprès des étudiants de sa filière LEA et LLCER. Ce contrat peut être reconduit un an. Les conditions requises pour une candidature sont les suivantes:

–avoir un diplôme français ou étranger d’un niveau équivalent à celui du diplôme national de master.

–n’avoir jamais enseigné en tant que lecteur ou maître de langues dans une université

— être de langue maternelle anglaise ou pratiquer l’anglais à l’égal de la langue maternelle.

–avoir une bonne connaissance de la langue française, écrite et orale.

Le service est de 192h à l’année et peut être regroupé sur trois jours. Il comprend des cours de labo (compréhension/expression orale), thèmes, communication en milieu professionnel, et/ou des TDs de civilisation britannique et américaines, dont le contenu sera fourni.  Il est souhaitable que les candidat.e.s possèdent une expérience de l’enseignement de la langue anglaise (des compétences en phonétique/phonologie sont plus que bienvenues) et des compétences ou connaissances en institutions britanniques actuelles et/ou l’histoire des États-Unis. Il est possible pour la personne recrutée d’effectuer des heures supplémentaires dans la filière LEA et LLCER de l’Antenne, Le service comprend les tâches liées à l’activité d’enseignement, notamment la préparation, la surveillance et la correction des contrôles de connaissance et examens. Le salaire net par mois est d’environ 1 500 euros, de septembre à août. Merci de diffuser cette information. Les candidatures (curriculum vitae et lettre de candidature en format .doc ou .pdf) peuvent être envoyées au plus tard le 22 avril 2022 aux deux adresses suivantes: 

malinovichenglish@gmail.com Nadia Malinovich

villers.upjv@gmail.com Aurélie Villers

Other Options to Teach English Abroad

If you are not qualified to teach at the university level, consider the Teaching Assistant Program in France to teach in the French public school system. The contract is shorter and the pay is less, but it is good experience if you plan to move up to teaching at the university level later on. Deadlines are from December to March, depending on your nationality. There are also other opportunities to teach English in Europe or Latin America if you would like to teach in other countries.

If you are an American citizen with a Master’s degree in TESOL/linguistics, you can also apply to the English Language Fellow Program to teach English overseas for 10 months. The locations change every year, but there are many options available and the stipend is $30,000.

Polyglot Board Game - the fun way to learn languages

Polyglot Board Game is the Fun Way to Learn Languages

Language enthusiasts, if you have ever wondered if a multilingual language learning board game exists, the answer is yes! Polyglot board game was created by Polyglot Inc. of Miami, Florida, in 1987. I don’t know if the company is still active or if they have created other language learning resources, but let’s take a look at this amazing game.


Polyglot Board Game

Polyglot Board Game

My game is obviously a bit faded… but at only $14.95, it was a great deal!

From the back of the box: A mind expanding educational game designed to enrich the understanding and knowledge of foreign languages. Play this fast paced exciting game of words and phrases in one or up to six languages. You’ll not only race for the win, but learn new words, phrases and better pronunciation for languages you want to improve or master. Elevate your command of ENGLISH, SPANISH, GERMAN, FRENCH, ITALIAN, and YIDDISH.


How to play Polyglot

Instructions are included in all of the languages, except Yiddish (though it could just be missing from my game). Read the instructions in English below. Click on the images to make them larger.

Polyglot Board Game Instructions Polyglot Board Game Instructions 2


Polyglot Vocabulary Cards

The two decks of cards include 1,800 words in each of the six languages plus 150 commonly used phrases. Phonetic pronunciation is included for each word and phrase. Even if you don’t have any polyglot friends nearby to play the game with, you can just use the cards to study vocabulary.

White cards are for individual words:

I’m not sure why the Romance languages are split up among German and Yiddish, as I think it’s easier to learn them side-by-side. [Take a look at my Romance languages comparative vocabulary lists if you want to learn several languages together and be able to choose which languages are next to each other.]

Yellow cards are for phrases:


The Polyglot Board

And the Tower of Babel board:

Polyglot Board Game board that resembles the Tower of Babel

I bought my Polyglot board game at the International Book Centre in Shelby Township in Michigan back in 2005.

If you’d like your own copy, you are in luck because there are some third-party sellers offering it at Amazon!

Has anyone else ever heard of this game or played it? Know of any other polyglot or multilingual board games?

Become and English lecteur in France in 2017

English Lecteur Positions at French Universities 2017-2018

Teach English in France

Welcome to the 2017-2018 list of English lecteur / lectrice and maître de langue positions at French universities!

[This post is no longer being updated. Are you looking for 2018-2019 English teaching positions at French universities?]

Read through this previous post about these English lecteur / lectrice positions in France for more information and the education requirements.  You can also check out last year’s job listings to get an idea of when most deadlines are and which universities were hiring.

I’ll continue to add new job listings to this post as I receive them, so be sure to check back often and follow ielanguages on Twitter where I always tweet the new job listings.

If your university has a job listing to advertise, e-mail me at ielanguages@gmail.com.

IMPORTANT REMINDER: Lecteurs/lectrices work up to 300 hours of travaux pratiques (TP) per year, or possibly up to 100 hours of travaux dirigés (TD). TP is generally labs/workshops/testing or other classes that require very little preparation, while TD refers to actual lectures, which obviously require more preparation. For lecteur/lectrice positions, you should not be asked to work more than 100 TD hours per year. Maîtres de langue work 288 hours of TP or 192 hours of TD.  Some universities have been hiring lecteurs and forcing them to work 200 TD hours so they only have to pay the lecteur salary instead of the maître de langue salary. In January 2014, Heike Romoth published an article in SNESUP (bottom of page 17 in the PDF) criticizing this illegal practice. The official décret states that “Les lecteurs de langue étrangère assurent un service annuel en présence des étudiants de 300 heures de travaux pratiques. Leur service peut comporter des travaux dirigés sans que leur nombre d’heures annuelles de travaux dirigés puisse être supérieur à 100.”  If you are hired as a lecteur/lectrice, please make sure the university is not exploiting you by making you do more work for less pay. This has been a problem particularly at universities in and around Paris.


Added July 12, 2017:

L’Université de Strasbourg recrute un(e) lecteur/lectrice de langue maternelle anglaise pour l’année universitaire 2017-2018.
Les candidats doivent être titulaires d’un diplôme au moins équivalent à celui de la licence (ou Bachelor of Arts). Un niveau B2 en français est également attendu.
Les enseignements à assurer seront des cours de conversation, langue orale et expression écrite, et s’adresseront à des étudiants de niveau licence ou master. Le/ la candidat(e) retenu(e) intégrera une équipe de quatre lecteurs et assurera pendant l’année une moyenne de 8 cours par semaine.
Une rémunération de 1214 euros (revenu net) par mois est prévue.
Les candidat(e)s intéressé(e)s sont prié(e)s d’envoyer un CV et une lettre de motivation (en français ou en anglais) à Hélène Ibata (helene.ibata@unistra.fr) ou Stéphane Kostantzer (skostant@unistra.fr)


Added July 3, 2017:

Le Département des Langues de l’Université de Versailles-Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines recrute pour l’année 2017-2018 un Maître de Langues en anglais (H/F).

– Conditions requises : être de langue maternelle anglaise et titulaire au minimum d’un niveau Master 2. Des connaissances en phonétique anglaise et une expérience préalable dans le supérieur en France sont souhaitées mais non exigées.

– Cours à assurer : cours d’anglais oral en licence, LANSAD, phonétique.

Poste d’un an, renouvelable une fois.

Service annuel :192 h HETD.
Rémunération : indice brut 482, soit 1954,07 euros / mois.

Merci d’envoyer pour le 8 juillet 2017 au plus tard CV et lettre de motivation en français à :



Added July 2, 2017:

  • L’Université de Picardie Jules Verne (UPJV) à Amiens cherche un lecteur de langue anglaise pour l’année universitaire 2017-2018 titulaire d’un BA. Les candidats peuvent envoyer un CV et une lettre de motivation à cette adresse: emmanuelle.durieux@laposte.net


  • Un contrat de Maître de langue serait à pourvoir au Centre de ressources en langues de l’Université d’Evry pour dispenser des cours de type LANSAD. Contactez: Frederick Goodman – frederick.goodman@univ-evry.fr
  • [Not clear if this is same job as above listing] The Université d’Evry/member of Paris Saclay, south of Paris (35 minutes train ride from the Gare de Lyon), will probably be recruiting a maître de langue in English for September 2017. Please do not apply if you do not fulfill the following conditions:
    – must be a native/mother tongue speaker
    – teaching experience of English is important, especially at secondary school/university level
    – a Master’s degree is required
    – nationality of a European Union country is required, or if anglophone from outside Europe, residence/work papers must already be established
    Please email a letter and CV to secretaire-crl@univ-evry.fr


  • L’université Paris-Dauphine recrute pour la rentrée 2017 un lecteur en langue anglaise. Les conditions de recrutement sont les suivantes :
    • L’anglais doit être votre langue maternelle ou une langue que vous pratiquez à l’égal de votre langue maternelle
    • Vous devez justifier d’une année d’études accomplie avec succès après l’obtention d’un titre ou d’un diplôme français ou étranger d’un niveau équivalent à celui du diplôme national de licence.
    Le dossier de candidature doit comprendre :
    • Un curriculum vitae,
    • Une photocopie de votre diplôme et une traduction de votre diplôme en français
    • Une lettre de motivation,
    • Une photocopie d’une pièce d’identité avec photographie.
    Le dossier de candidature doit être transmis par mail à l’adresse suivante : beatrice.baeza@dauphine.fr


Added May 16, 2017:

The University of Angers is looking for a Maître de Langue, for its Law department. You need to speak fluent English, decent French, and have a Master’s Degree in Law to apply. Please feel free to pass the word if you know of anyone who might be interested. The ad is not on the university website yet, but you can write to me at this address: anne.wilkinson@univ-angers.fr


Added May 12, 2017:

Poste de lecteur [download pdf of job description]
Université du Littoral Côte d’Opale (ULCO)

L’Université du Littoral Côte d’Opale (ULCO), Boulogne-sur-Mer, France has one vacancy for a position of “Lecteur/Lectrice” (entry level teaching position) at the Département de Langues et Langues Appliquées for a 1-year (renewable) contract starting September 1st, 2017 and ending August 31st, 2018. Aside from the holiday periods, lecteurs must be ready and willing to work throughout the duration of their contract. This teaching position is open to native English speakers who are university graduates (4 year degree or Masters) preferably in English, French, history, politics, education and/or another Arts/Humanities subject.

The lecteurs mainly teach oral classes in small groups but will also teach other classes, e.g. English for non-specialists (100h TD). The workload is defined by the Languages Department but some of the teaching is done for other departments.

Teaching experience and/or training in teaching English as a foreign language (or in teaching French) and/or working in a language centre, although not essential, would be an advantage. We are looking for independent, dynamic, flexible, positive, constructive team players. The Department’s two language assistants (one European and one non-European) are encouraged to work together, both in teaching and administrative duties and in club activities. These can be adapted to each assistant’s talents and include organizing activities (Pub Quizzes, conversation sessions, cinema club, theatre club, etc.). The lecteurs are expected to put in the necessary time to do lesson planning and marking, participating with colleagues in developing audio and multimedia resources for teaching English.

Please email a letter of application and the list of documents below including address, email, telephone number:
1) a CV in French (see model below), with a recent photograph of the candidate;
2) a detailed CV in English;
3) a French letter of application;
4) a photocopy of passport page with photo;
5) photocopy of your highest university degree;
6) letters of reference and the names, addresses, emails and phone numbers of possible referees;
7) MP3 or MP4 recording by the candidate of the following:
a) a brief presentation of the candidate in English (2-3 minutes) for the job application,
b) a brief presentation of the candidate in French (2-3 minutes) for the job application

Send the above as soon as possible preferably before 2nd June 2017 to Imelda.Elliott@univ-littoral.fr and to Departement.Langues@univ-littoral.fr

Curriculum vitae en français (modèle)
Nom patronymique:         Nom marital :
Prénom :
Date de naissance :
Lieu de naissance :
Nationalité :
Marié – célibataire – divorcé
Nombre d’enfants :
Adresse :
Tél mobile :
Tél. fixe à l’étranger :
Skype/WhatsApp :
Diplôme(s) obtenu(s) (joindre la photocopie) :
Nature : Date d’obtention :
Université :
Attestations : (Nom, qualité et adresse électronique de deux universitaires pouvant fournir une attestation sur le candidat ) :
Activités universitaires /professionnelles en 2016-2017
Expérience d’enseignement des langues vivantes :
Autres emplois occupés :
Séjours précédents en France :


[This position has been filled.] La Faculté de Médecine Montpellier-Nîmes recrute actuellement des anglophones ayant un niveau Master 1 (validation d’une année post-licence) pour un poste de lecteur pour l’année universitaire 2017-18 avec un contrat de 12 mois, éventuellement renouvelable une fois seulement.  300 heures d’enseignement (TP) par année universitaire.

Université d’Orléans is hiring a lecteur/lectrice. Deadline is May 15, 2017. [download pdf of job description]

Université Jean Monnet in Saint-Étienne is hiring a lecteur/lectrice in the Science Faculty for 2017-18. Deadline to apply is May 15, 2017. [download pdf of job description]

L’Université d’Avignon et des Pays de Vaucluse recrute un lecteur au titre du décret n°87-754 du 14 septembre 1987. Les candidatures peuvent être déposées jusqu’au 5 mai 2017. Le dossier de candidature, composé d’un curriculum vitae, d’une lettre de motivation, d’une copie du diplôme le plus élevé obtenu et d’une copie d’une pièce d’identité, est à envoyer par courrier électronique à Graham.Ranger@univ-avignon.fr et à Gersende.Paulet@univ-avignon.fr

Université de Perpignan-Via Domitia is hiring a non-European English lecteur/lectrice for 2017-18. Applications (CV in English, cover letter in French) should be sent jointly by 25th April, 2017 to Mme Isabelle CASES, cases@univ-perp.fr, Directrice, Département des Etudes Anglophones Mme Hélène GUILLAUME, guillaume@univ-perp.fr

L’université de Cergy-Pontoise (région parisienne) recrute pour la rentrée 2017-18 un lecteur ou une lectrice anglophone. Le dossier de candidature devra être transmis par courier électronique avant le 1er mai 2017 à emmanuelle.de-champs@u-cergy.fr, yannicke.chupin@u-cergy.fr, henry.wyld@u-cergy. fr : un CV, une lettre de motivation, la photocopie d’une pièce d’identité, copie des diplômes, et lettres de recommandation (éventuellement). Des entretiens seront organisés à l’UCP en mai-juin 2017.

Université de Bordeaux is hiring four English lecteurs/lectrices. Application materials must be uploaded before April 27, 2017.

Université Clermont Auvergne (France) has one vacancy for a position of “Lecteur/Lectrice” (entry level teaching position, not to be mistaken with the English term “lecturer”) at the Hypermedia Language Centre at the Faculty of Languages, Cultures and Communication for a 1-year (renewable) contract starting September 1st, 2017 and ending August 31st, 2018. Aside from the holiday periods, lecteurs must be ready and willing to work throughout the duration of their contract.

The position involves teaching in a multimedia lab and offers a relatively rare opportunity to gain valuable experience in a developing area. The centre, which earned the European Award for Languages in 2003, aims to foster and develop students’ oral

 communication and comprehension skills in English by its unique combination of face-to-face group activities and on-computer pair work:


Contact hours average about 19-22 hours (maximum) a week during term time but work will also include tutoring students’ recorded discussions on our own software platform and working with colleagues to prepare and update multimedia lesson material, taking part in university events and fairs, writing and supervising exams, correcting and supervising resits.

The applicant should be a university graduate and a native speaker of English with training and experience in TEFL (preferably at least two years’ teaching experience). A qualification such as the CELTA would be particularly appreciated. He or she should be enthusiastic about working with ITC in a communicative approach as part of a dynamic team.

We are looking for independent, dynamic, positive, constructive team players, able to do their own lesson planning, ready to put in the necessary time it takes to do lesson planning and marking, who are flexible and who can adapt quickly to unforeseen changes in organization.

A CV, letter of reference, references and covering letter should be sent by email to:

Emily Butler, Emily.Butler@univ-bpclermont.fr, head of the Hypermedia Language Centre.

Application deadline: Friday the 14th of April 2017.

Interviews: May 2017.

L’UFR Lansad de l’Université de Lorraine a deux postes de lecteurs anglophones à pourvoir à la prochaine rentrée de septembre.

Voici ci-dessous les modalités des postes :

Poste de lecteur d’anglais – Université de Lorraine (Nancy)
UFR LANSAD (Langues pour Spécialistes d’Autres Disciplines)

Le PEARL (Pôle d’Enseignement, d’Autoformation et de Recherche en Langues), recrute des lecteurs d’anglais (langue maternelle) pour le 1er septembre 2017.


Le candidat doit être de langue maternelle anglaise et disposer d’une bonne maîtrise de la langue française. Il doit justifier de l’obtention d’un titre ou diplôme d’un niveau Master 1. Une expérience d’enseignement préalable est appréciée mais elle n’est pas obligatoire.

Attention, les personnes ayant déjà fait 2 ans de lectorat ne sont pas éligibles pour ce poste.

Charge d’enseignement

Enseignement de la langue anglaise niveau intermédiaire et avancé. Le service du lecteur se répartit entre plusieurs structures (campus lettres et sciences humaines, campus droit-économie, ISAM-IAE, formation MIAGE de Nancy).

Il dispensera des cours de langue anglaise écrite et orale (sujets transversaux et de spécialité) ainsi que des cours de conversation et des ateliers dans nos centres de langues. Il travaillera en équipe avec des enseignants permanents et il pourra avoir à gérer certains cours en autonomie.

Le lecteur participera également à la conception des sujets de contrôle continu ou terminaux, à la surveillance des examens et à la correction des copies.

Conditions d’exercice

  • Contrat du 1er septembre 2017 au 31 août 2018.
  • Renouvelable une fois pour la même durée.
  • Charge d’enseignement de 200 heures TD et jusqu’à 100 heures complémentaires, sur une durée de 10 à 12 semaines par semestre
  • Rémunération de 1486 euros bruts/mois

Dossier de candidature

à transmettre par mail aux deux contacts ci-dessous pour le 31 mars 2017 :

– curriculum vitae
– lettre de motivation
– copie des diplômes
– lettre de recommandation

Contacts et envoi du dossier de candidature :

Carine Martin (directrice du PEARL) : Carine.Martin@univ-lorraine.fr
Claire Semin (responsable des lecteurs du PEARL) : claire.semin@univ-lorraine.fr

The IUT of Cachan (15 minutes from Paris on line B or the 187 bus) is looking for a “lecteur ou lectrice d’anglais”. This teaching position is open to native English speakers who have a Master’s Degree (Master 1). 

This job offer is for a young man or woman who is interested in leading conversation classes with small groups of first and second year engineering students. The contract is for one year for 300 teaching hours spread out between school holidays. The salary is paid monthly from September 1st 2017 until August 31st 2018.

If you would like to apply for this job, please send your CV and cover letter to Mme Ennezat (marie-amelie.ennezat@u-psud.fr) who is also available for any further questions you may have.

La Faculté des Sciences et Technologies à Vandoeuvre lès Nancy at Université de Lorraine is hiring an English lecteur. Send CV and lettre de motivation in French by midnight 17 March 2017. [download pdf of job listing]

L’Université de Poitiers recrute pour 2017-2018:

– 3 lecteurs pour le CAREL à Royan — http://www.carel-royan.fr
– 1 maître de langue pour l’UFR de Pharmacie-Médecine à Poitiers — http://medphar.univ-poitiers.fr
– 1 maître de langue pour l’ENSIP à Poitiers — http://ensip.univ-poitiers.fr
– 1 lecteur pour l’UFR de Lettres & Langues à Poitiers — http://ll.univ-poitiers.fr

Les dossiers sont à envoyer à pascale.drouet@univ-poitiers.fr et joyce.brossard@univ-poitiers.fr AVANT FIN FEVRIER. Les dossiers incomplets ne seront pas examinés. En cas de candidatures plurielles, il faut un seul dossier, mais une lettre de motivation spécifique pour chaque  candidature. [download docx]

École Normale Supérieure de Lyon will hire four English-language lecteurs for 2017. [download pdf]

Applications for lecteur positions at Université Toulouse Jean Jaurès are due by March 1, 2017. [calendrier pdf] Positions are not always posted on the website, but you can just send your dossier to/contact individual departments. [recrutement lecteur 2017 doc] Keep checking the Documents à Télécharger sidebar for information on how many lecteurs will be needed for 2017-18.

At the Sorbonne Nouvelle (Université Paris 3), the département du Monde Anglophone recruits several English lecteurs and one maître de langue each year. Deadline is March 13 for the lecteur positions, and March 6 for the maître de langue position.

Other Options to Teach English

If you are not qualified to teach at the university level, consider the Teaching Assistant Program in France to teach in the French public school system. The contract is shorter and the pay is less, but it is good experience if you plan to move up to teaching at the university level later on. Deadlines are from December to March, depending on your nationality. (The American program has a deadline of January 31, 2017). There are also other opportunities to teach English in Europe if you would like to teach in other countries.

If you are an American citizen with a Master’s degree in TESOL/linguistics, you can also apply to the English Language Fellow Program to teach English overseas for 10 months. The locations change every year, but there are many options available and the stipend is $30,000.

American English courses at Udemy with Dr. Jennie

American English Courses at Udemy

American English Courses at Udemy.com

American Pronunciation and English for French Speakers Courses

Are you learning American English? Do you need help with American pronunciation? I have been busy the past few months creating American English courses for Udemy, and they are finally ready! Currently, there are two courses available:

The pronunciation course is a paid course, but if you subscribe to the ielanguages.com newsletter, you will receive a coupon code for a large discount. (Look for the code in the final welcome email.) There are a few preview videos you can watch first if you’d like to the check out the content.

The English for French Speakers course is free! (And it’s actually still in the review process, but you can join and start learning now anyway.) Even if your native language is not French, most of the lectures are in English only so you may still find it useful. And did I mention it’s free?

Promo video for American English Pronunciation: Vowels and Consonants course:

[responsive_video type=’youtube’ hide_related=’0′ hide_logo=’0′ hide_controls=’0′ hide_title=’0′ hide_fullscreen=’0′ autoplay=’0′]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YBDeb5pVqxM[/responsive_video]


Promo video for American English for French Speakers course:

[responsive_video type=’youtube’ hide_related=’0′ hide_logo=’0′ hide_controls=’0′ hide_title=’0′ hide_fullscreen=’0′ autoplay=’0′]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u3Mww1sOpQU[/responsive_video]


I plan to create another pronunciation course on Stress and Rhythm and as well as a vocabulary course on English for Academic Purposes in the future. I will also continue to add new content to the existing courses based on student feedback, so let me know what else you would like to learn.


Thanks for your interest in learning American English!

– Dr. Jennie

Mutual Intelligibility between English and Scots

Frisian is often cited as the language that is closest to English, but Scots is actually closer (i.e. has a higher degree of mutual intelligibility with English). Not Scottish English, which is a variety of English, or Scottish Gaelic, which is actually a Celtic rather than a Germanic language, but Lowland Scots.


Map of the areas where the Scots language is spoken.

There are just over 100,000 native speakers and it is classified as a traditional language by the Scottish government and a regional or minority language by the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages.

Here is a lecture in Scots about the history of the Scots language. How much can you understand?

Trilingual Books (English-Spanish-French) for Children

I am constantly looking for trilingual book (English-Spanish-French) for my young niece and nephew. So far I have found two series on Amazon.com:

Little Pim, which has 4 books of numbers, colors, feelings and animals as well as tabs for little fingers to pull

I love to sleep and I love to eat, which are also touch and feel books

Do you know of other trilingual books?

English and “Correct” Words in French

L’Académie française has once again called for more “defense” of the French language against incorrect use of the language, especially with regards to Anglicisms. I do not agree with l’Académie’s prescriptivist ideas on vocabulary use and trying to force the formal (often written) language onto the spoken form. It is one thing to determine if a sentence is grammatically correct concerning function words, verb conjugations, word order, etc. but it is completely different to proclaim that certain content words are incorrect since vocabulary choice is highly dependent on the topic, context, medium (speech/writing) and audience. As long as the meaning of the words are similar (such as formal vs. informal variants), there is no correct or incorrect use of a word over another. It is merely what is appropriate or not to that particular situation. Saying “Hey, what’s up?” to the president is not incorrect – because that would imply that it would never be used at all by native speakers, when in fact it is used quite often – but it is inappropriate to use an informal variant in a formal situation.

Telegraph has a recent article on L’Académie’s fight against English words in French. Their website includes a new page called “Dire, Ne pas dire” which includes les fautes, les tics de langage et les ridicules qui s’observent le plus fréquemment dans le français contemporain. Jean-Matthieu Pasqualini of the Académie said “We want to restore courage to all those in France and outside France who endeavour to defend and enrich the language. Let French remain a great language of communication and culture.” But what does he mean by enrich? Claiming that some words in contemporary French (that aren’t even Anglicisms) are absurd or wrong doesn’t exactly seem like a good start.

France’s culture ministry also has a new website for people to propose French words in place of the borrowed English words at wikilf.culture.fr which states “il ne s’agit nullement de déclarer la guerre aux mots étrangers, anglais en particulier, qui sont passés dans la langue courante – pas question de toucher au week-end et au sandwich – mais d’anticiper l’utilité d’un terme étranger qui pourrait s’installer en français.” (Telegraph’s translation: “This is in no way about declaring war on foreign terms, English in particular, that have entered into common usage like sandwich or weekend. It is about anticipating the usefulness of a foreign term that could be settling into the French language.”) While I’m happy to see that they acknowledge the natural state of constant evolution and change that occurs in all human languages, the fact that they are trying to propose French translations for Anglicisms that have yet to become so entrenched in the language seems a bit suspect. There is nothing wrong with wanting to use the French translations, of course, but why is it considered ok to use sandwich and week-end but not casting or email? Just because sandwich and week-end have been used in French for longer, that somehow makes them more acceptable?

I know I have expressed my annoyance at the use of English words in French in the past, but I am not frustrated because of the existence of the borrowings, which are natural and normal in any language. I am frustrated that language learning materials do not include the borrowings or other aspects of contemporary French vocabulary. They only tend to include the standardized form of the language, or what people should say (dictated by l’Académie) instead of what people actually say, which is not useful for students who need to comprehend the various dialects and styles and which leaves them with an inaccurate and stereotypical portrayal of the French language.

Another reason that resistance to borrowings is a bit unreasonable is that certain words in English are actually borrowings from old French, which then have later been re-borrowed back into French in the newer Anglicized form. Toast in English comes from old French toster, whereas modern French stopped using toster in favor of pain grillé, but has also borrowed toast from modern English. So is le toast really an Anglicism if it was originally French?

Are you French or English, Mr. Toast?

When it comes to Anglicisms, many people like to point out that Quebecois French has more English borrowings than French in France (which isn’t true) to justify their prejudiced view that Quebecois French isn’t “real” French. That’s just as ridiculous as saying American English isn’t real English or Mexican Spanish isn’t real Spanish simply because it is not spoken in the “mother country” where the language originated. I do not understand the colonialistic attitudes about language use, just as I do not understand why some people make a connection between the older form of a language and a supposed superiority of the variety that is closest to the old form. A dialect that is more conservative with change is somehow more desirable than the others, yet many people believe that the mother country dialect is also the most conservative which is not true. Quebecois French contains many aspects of Old French that speakers in France no longer use, which some wrongly assume are Anglicisms when in fact they are Old French.

In Quebecois, Belgian and Swiss French the three meals of the day are le déjeuner, le dîner, and le souper whereas most areas of France nowadays use le petit déjeuner, le déjeuner and le dîner.* Quebec French did not borrow le souper from English supper; English borrowed it from Old French soper which turned into souper in modern French. In France, le souper is another meal even later than dinner and is usually associated with rural areas or an older generation. The words dinner and supper in English have also changed meaning somewhat over time. In my dialect of English, dinner and supper are synonyms for the evening meal, but in other forms of English, dinner is the midday meal (instead of lunch) and supper is the evening meal (instead of dinner) so the older French, current Quebec and English meals were parallels at one time: déjeuner = breakfast (dé + jeûne: undo or break fast), dîner = dinner and souper = supper.

Wordreference.com has a thread on the names of the meals where native speakers contribute what they say in their region. Looking at posts #2 and #6, you can see how far the idea of bon usage and correct French (i.e. what l’Académie says is correct) has spread. I quote from the forum:

De manière correcte et quelles que soient les régions de France :
on déjeune à midi
on dîne ou on soupe le soir (plus utilisé en milieu rural)

and the post that made me nearly cry, which refers to the above post:

Tout-à-fait d’accord. Mais chez nous (sud-est), on continue à parler de “dîner” à midi. Chez moi, quand j’étais petite, on se simplifiait encore plus la vie : dîner, midi et soir . Le “déjeuner” c’était le petit déj’. Quand je suis sortie dans le monde, j’ai été très étonnée qu’on l’appelle “petit” !

Maintenant, grâce aux médias, la langue s’uniformise et on respecte de plus en plus le bon usage français.

I wonder if the millions of people in France who don’t use déjeuner and dîner in the same manner as the first poster know that they do not speak “correct” French. As for the second poster, I feel sorry that she thinks that her native dialect is not correct while at the same time praising the effects of standardization, which lead to her dialect being considered incorrect in the first place.

These are issues of geographic variation, but using one word instead of the other is not incorrect. Compare the use of pop vs. soda vs. coke in the US. I’m from Michigan so I say pop, but I don’t consider the use of soda or coke to be wrong or incorrect. They are simply different ways of saying the same thing depending on where you are from or where you are currently located. All dialects of a language should be seen as equals but the standardized form used in most writing, and which is generally based on the upper classes, is often considered the only correct variety. There is a place for the standardized form, especially for communication purposes and even teaching students how to produce language, but the other varieties are also just as valid as human languages and should not be reduced to incorrect deviations of the prestige form.

* Even more confusing is the spoken/informal use of déjeuner to mean “to eat breakfast” even in areas where the three meals are le petit déjeuner, le déjeuner and le dîner!