Country - Report - France - EN

Country Report of Hungarian Language Teaching,

Adult and Minority Education in France (ENG)

Presented by the Association Pour Une École Hongroise

Hungarian individuals must have always lived in France, but their first communities were established by the arrival of political immigrants after World War II and after the 1956 Hungarian Revolution. Even though, it was the 20th century that marked their main arrival in the Hexagon, the need for teaching and learning Hungarian arose a century earlier.

In France the very first Hungarian grammar book was published by János Eiben in 1843, which was followed by the Études sur la langue magyare (Studies of the Magyar language) by Edme-Léon Fauvin in 1870. The orientalist, Károly Újfalvy, not only published the first Hungarian literature book based on folk songs to contemporary literary work (1872) but became a missionaire of Hungarian culture, literature and language in Paris. In the Éléments de grammaire magyare (Elements of the Magyar grammar, 1876) he showed the Finno-Ugrian origin of the language.

At the beginning of the 20th century, Ignác Kont edited the Petite Grammaire hongroise in 1908. Then the Frenchman, Professor Aurélien Sauvageot started to give the first Hungarian lessons at the Institute of Oriental Languages. Through his considerable work he enhanced the importance of the Hungarian language and culture. Meanwhile the Hungarian Faculty at the Sorbonne never came into being.

A full understanding of the French educational system requires a general immersion in French culture. France offers state-run and private schools at all levels and the educational standards are generally high. There are public schools with bilingual programmes ('International Sections'), but in most cases, bilingual education is only available in a private school. The French educational philosophy emphasizes: the authority of the teacher; individual competition, and generally high academic expectations. Nursery school (Ecole Maternelle) is optional from age two. Schooling is free and mandatory from ages six to sixteen. For Primary Schools (Ecoles Primaires) it has been proposed that foreign languages be introduced.

Regional schools may also teach regional languages such as Breton or Corsican. There are 23 foreign languages represented in schools. In France on maternal and primary level Hungarian education is covered mainly on associative ground. In Greater Paris the Hungarian Institute of Paris, Association for a Hungarian School, The bi-lingual Association Our Petits Magyars and the Saturday School of the Hungarian Catholic Mission in Paris. The clubs and lessons are provided by Hungarian native speakers with different pedagogical background. Their program is based on the selection of the Hungarian National Curriculum for kinder garden and for primary school.

In Mid-School (Collège) foreign-language study is mandatory from age eleven and a second foreign language is required from age thirteen. The Grammar School (Lycée) can be accomplished by the GCSE (baccalauréat) exams to sit which must be passed to advance to state university. There are some 30 French schools that also offer an International and European Section leading to an international baccalauréat (OIB). They are, on the one hand, intended to integrate foreign students and make it easier for them to eventually return to schools in their home country. On the other hand, they are intended to better integrate French students into a multi-lingual European environment. The curriculum for international sections is agreed upon by administrators in France and the country of origin. The curriculum is offered on top of the normal French-language course load and includes instruction in language, literature, geography and history. These programs add significant additional work onto an already demanding curriculum where a child's overall scholastic aptitude determines their success. Those who pass the additional language tests for their baccalauréat earn a diploma with a mention section européenne. The Association for a Hungarian School has been working for years with the aim of founding the Hungarian section in the Saint-Germain-en-Laye International Grammar School. “A new world commences at the threshold of each language” (Dezső Kosztolányi), as it is clearly stated in their slogan.

The most prestigious source of Higher Education (enseignement supérieur) is the handful of top schools known collectively as les grandes écoles for engineering, business, politics or administrative studies.

Graduation from them is a ticket to success in France. As for the Hungarian tertiary education it is assured nowadays by a wide range of institutes in France with a university degree: –the Institut National des Langues et Civilisations Orientales, Paris III – Sorbonne Nouvelle Centre Inter-universitaire d’Études Hongroises, Université Michel de Montaigne – Bordeaux III, Université de Lille III, Université Jean Moulin –Lyons, Université Marc Bloch de Strasbourg, Université Nancy II and the Université d’Angers.

Teaching languages to adults is available in many forms throughout the country. A widely known type of adult training, the formation continue (Continuous training), is offered in order to enhance the competences of the employed and the unemployed. In France the terms of national minority or minority language are not used as all citizens are considered French. French policy distinguishes regional, foreign and immigrant languages. People of all ages, especially with emigrational background, need to improve their knowledge of their mother tongue or their second language, if necessary by trainings. Languages can become assets to succeed in the labour market. The Council of Europe adopted the European Charter on regional and minority languages in 1992, France signed it in 1999. To ensure equal chances for everyone, France develops its own migration policy in line with the European Union, aiming to integrate migrants into society. Although it is evident that a language must be cultivated inside a community, teaching Hungarian to adults is less widely-spread in France. These types of language classes for adults, as well as cultural and artistic conferences with Hungarian and French professionals are offered by the Hungarian Institute of Paris and by the above mentioned associations. The doors are kept open to all (of you) who need support and encouragement in learning and developing Hungarian and who are attracted by this language and culture.

Edited by Orsolya King-Légrády


-Farkas Mária PhD Marc Bloch Egyetem, Strasbourg This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it







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