After two months in Kuala Lumpur of learning to drive the crazy Malaysian way, reading about Buddha, restraining from buying all the exciting Japanese and Chinese food products (that I don’t know what they’re made of) on offer in supermarkets, learning Mandarin (only Pinyin to start with), visiting Hindu temples after Buddhist temples after huge Mosques, eating and spitting out many smelly fruits, running many times to the loo after eating too much wasabi (I don’t learn, do I), AND travelling a lot around here, reality has eventually hit me. I gotta find a job soon.
Put aside the fact that to get a professional visa you almost need to be sponsored by Tun Razak himself, it gets even harder if you don’t really have an idea of what you’d like to work as. So after some intennnnse reflection, and since languages are the only thing I can pretend to know, I’ve come to the conclusion that the childhood fantasy of being a French teacher might actually be a good possibility here.
However, the same doubts that have always assailed me are still bothering now: how much does the world need French? It may be because I spent too much time with British people who never needed to learn any other language to succeed in life, but apart from Chirac who decided that if the US President wanted to talk to him he should do so in French, who else now thinks that French is a must know?
Really, outside of France, quoting famous French phrases has always been a British higher class prerogative, and if you didn’t go to Oxbridge you never need to woo your peers quoting Jean-Paul Sartre in BBC’s QI.
I am torn between the fact that French is a wonderfully constructed language and a shame to lose it, and the reality of ‘who will need it, a century from now’? Then again, we could say that about many languages other than English and Chinese I guess (for it might take time before the Chinese adopt the enemy’s language). So is it worth keeping on spreading it (even just a little bit)? Will there still be people speaking it 500 years from now? Or even before this? Let me know your thoughts…