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  #541  
Old 03-18-2017, 12:57 AM
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I think when you are raised for a very public role, speaking at least two languages should be part of your education, and upkeep of it. You can't learn every language, but still. French would come in handy for the Brits.
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  #542  
Old 03-18-2017, 01:31 AM
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Originally Posted by Curryong View Post
William took French and Spanish at Eton for years. He speaks both very badly, but I do think with foreign languages it's a case of 'use it or lose it'. If you don't keep up any language then eventually you do forget it.
He did study them for his GCSE's but didn't take either for his final two years at school

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I read a while ago that Edward and Sophie Wessex were studying French together, so it looks as if Edward wasn't encouraged to learn French either.
Like William - he didn't study any languages for his A levels (none of the Queen's children or grandchildren did other than Charles who did French at A level - gained a C grade)

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I do think it's shameful that a future King of GB isn't able to communicate properly in any other language but his own, especially when you consider most of his European and Scandi contemporaries are fluent in at least three.
Why the fascination with always comparing the British royals badly with their European contemporaries. Most Europeans are fluent in 2 - 3 languages because of the nearness of other countries while most Brits aren't as they know that most Europeans learn English at school with many European school systems making English compulsory and that English is the most widely spoken language in the world after Mandarin.

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As for Kate, I find it very hard to believe that her school, Marlborough, didn't offer at least two modern European languages in its curriculum.
I suspect Marlborough, like Eton, probably offered at least two European languages and maybe even more - but there was no compulsion to study a language past a brief introduction in 1st or 2nd form.

Just because a school offers a language doesn't mean that students have to study one unless it is stipulated in either the school's policy or the educational system.

e.g. in NSW it is compulsory to study a foreign modern language for 100 hours within one school year. At my school our Year 7 students must study Japanese. Of the around 110 students we have doing that in Year 7 usually fewer than 15 will continue with it into Year 8 and fewer than 10 into Years 9 - 10. It is a good decade since we had a class at school for the final two years - usually 1 - 2 students will do that course through correspondence education.

Given the vast array of subjects available now languages have to be interesting to compete and with English as the national language many kids take the option of 'thanks but no thanks - I don't need it'.

When I was at High School in the 1970s we didn't have to study a language at all and most of my cohort saw no reason to do so and we have all done very well with only English - partly due to the fact that it is English.

Whenever I travel in Europe and try to say 'sorry but I don't speak xxxx' I have always found that the person to whom I am talking start to speak in English and ask to practice their English so even if I was able to speak another language I would never get the chance.
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  #543  
Old 03-18-2017, 01:41 AM
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Kate had no idea what position she would be in 25 years later. As for William, he had all the opportunities from early childhood, when I see the poor result I can only conclude that he is one of those people who are not born to learn another language.
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  #544  
Old 03-18-2017, 03:11 AM
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The shortest distance between England and the continent of Europe is (across the Straits of Dover) a little over 33 kilometres or 18 miles.

The distance between the Netherlands and Spain is certainly more than that yet if and when King Felipe and King Williem-Alexander meet, (and they have done on several occasions), they can converse in Spanish and English together. Would William be able to converse informally in German, Dutch or Spanish with King Willem? No, of course not!

I would just say that the world is getting smaller each year and although English is indeed an international language, it's not very admirable to remain mono-lingual or to show off your terrible French when you are the future leader of a nation, and perhaps Commonwealth, in which many, many languages are spoken.

Even if foreigners to whom you speak are kind enough to speak to you in your own language, IMO a whole other world, in literature and the arts for example, opens up to you when you have another language under your belt. Why rely on other people's good will?

William would greatly benefit by knowing French, IMO, not least because he wouldn't then humiliate himself in front of French Canadians when he attempts a speech.
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  #545  
Old 03-18-2017, 05:51 AM
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As someone who is currently struggling to learn Hungarian, I quite agree that learning a language in adulthood is far more difficult to do than learning it as a child! French is much easier to learn and understand for an Englishman!

For William and other members of the Royal Family, I guess if he/they visited a country often enough he would do well to learn that country's language.

Lets remember, however, that us Brits do not all speak the languages of our kingdom's nations - Gaelic, Welsh, Manx, Cornish etc let alone the languages of our near neighbours such as the Irish, Dutch or French . Actually, more to the point we are not taught to speak them properly in our schools.

Speaking one or two phrases of the country you are visiting is always very much appreciated I think, but I have also found that they themselves wish to show off their own learning skills and command of English too, so it's a battle of wills!

I noticed recently that Emperor Akihito spoke Japanese during a speech on visit to the UK even though he speaks English. Other dignitaries from abroad often speak in their mother-tongue when in the UK - so William speaking English whilst in France doesn't seem unusual to me, although he managed a few sentences in his speech, and I think he might as well have continued.
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  #546  
Old 03-18-2017, 06:45 AM
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Originally Posted by Curryong View Post
The distance between the Netherlands and Spain is certainly more than that yet if and when King Felipe and King Williem-Alexander meet, (and they have done on several occasions), they can converse in Spanish and English together. Would William be able to converse informally in German, Dutch or Spanish with King Willem? No, of course not!
.
I understand if you want to rant about P.William's lack of language skills but the comparison is not quite fair to him: Willem-Alexander has a german speaking family (father's side (and also grand father)) and spanish speaking inlaws (Maxima's family), so it's no surprise he has learned those languages over the years (English is a language that in the NL is taught in practically every school, so if you advance beyond primary school, you will have learned at least a few years of english).
I'd be very suprised if Felipe and W-A would talk in dutch, so why would William have to.

I often have the feeling that people (not specifically you) are more critical about their own royals than about "foreign" royals
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  #547  
Old 03-18-2017, 06:46 AM
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Originally Posted by Curryong View Post
The shortest distance between England and the continent of Europe is (across the Straits of Dover) a little over 33 kilometres or 18 miles.

The distance between the Netherlands and Spain is certainly more than that yet if and when King Felipe and King Williem-Alexander meet, (and they have done on several occasions), they can converse in Spanish and English together. Would William be able to converse informally in German, Dutch or Spanish with King Willem? No, of course not!

I would just say that the world is getting smaller each year and although English is indeed an international language, it's not very admirable to remain mono-lingual or to show off your terrible French when you are the future leader of a nation, and perhaps Commonwealth, in which many, many languages are spoken.

Even if foreigners to whom you speak are kind enough to speak to you in your own language, IMO a whole other world, in literature and the arts for example, opens up to you when you have another language under your belt. Why rely on other people's good will?

William would greatly benefit by knowing French, IMO, not least because he wouldn't then humiliate himself in front of French Canadians when he attempts a speech.

The problem IMHO is the school system in England where the last two years of school are highly specialized (with students taking only three or four subjects in great depth) and there are virtually no compulsory subject requirements.

I am not a fan either of the generalist High School as in the US (or Canada) where students have to study a large number of different subjects with little depth, but I believe that, for a well-rounded education, all students in years 11-12 should be required to take national language, one foreign language, at least one natural science and one social science, and another elective subject that may be an arts subject or another subject from any of the previous groups (for example, a second natural science, second social science, further math, or a third language). That is basically the model followed in the International Baccalaureate (IB), which, im my opinion, compares favorably to the English A-Level model.
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  #548  
Old 03-18-2017, 06:52 AM
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Originally Posted by Lee-Z View Post
I understand if you want to rant about P.William's lack of language skills but the comparison is not quite fair to him: Willem-Alexander has a german speaking family (father's side (and also grand father)) and spanish speaking inlaws (Maxima's family), so it's no surprise he has learned those languages over the years (English is a language that in the NL is taught in practically every school, so if you advance beyond primary school, you will have learned at least a few years of english).
I'd be very suprised if Felipe and W-A would talk in dutch, so why would William have to.

I often have the feeling that people (not specifically you) are more critical about their own royals than about "foreign" royals

I would be surprised also if Felipe had learned Dutch (or Swedish, or Danish for that matter), but, as a future European monarch, he learned French, as was the case with Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles. The fact that William doesn't speak at least French is deeply disappointing, especially considering that he will probably be one day the King of Canada, where French is one of the two national languages.
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  #549  
Old 03-18-2017, 07:14 AM
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Of the British royals, it's only the Queen who we can say is proficient in French. Charles' French is heavily accented.

But William is a future British Monarch, not European.

As for Canada, it's a non-issue. It may be 'officially' bi-lingual but the reality on the ground is very different.

French speaking people are clustered into certain areas of the country. For example, where I live, I never ever hear French being used.

Nothing new here. We all know William doesn't speak much French.

Look at Amercian presidents. The most powerful country on earth and they seem to get by with 'just' English.
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  #550  
Old 03-18-2017, 07:31 AM
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Originally Posted by Rudolph View Post
Of the British royals, it's only the Queen who we can say is proficient in French. Charles' French is heavily accented.

But William is a future British Monarch, not European.

As for Canada, it's a non-issue. It may be 'officially' bi-lingual but the reality on the ground is very different.

French speaking people are clustered into certain areas of the country. For example, where I live, I never ever hear French being used.

Nothing new here. We all know William doesn't speak much French.

Look at Amercian presidents. The most powerful country on earth and they seem to get by with 'just' English.

Well, as Boris Johnson said, the UK is leaving the European Union, but is not leaving Europe. As long as the UK is considered part of the European continent, the British monarch is also an European monarch.

On the issue of Canada, it is not my country, but, as I understand it, the prime minister of Canada nowadays is expected to be fluent in French even when he is from Alberta like Stephen Harper (that was not always the case BTW in the past, but it has been the case since the federal government became officially bilingual). Likewise, I'd imagine that the King of Canada, even though he may only go to Canada once every so many years, shoukl attempt to be bilingual too, at least out of respect for his 7.5 million or so French-speaking subjects. I agree , however, that it is not an imperative.

BTW I've never actually heard Charles speaking French, but, as accented as it may be, I'm pretty sure he must be much better than William. I heard that Camilla speaks French quite well, as she actually lived in French-speaking countries for a while.
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  #551  
Old 03-18-2017, 08:03 AM
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Wouldn't a truly modern and worldly monarch be more than bilingual? And, JMO, but I think a lot of people have have moved past expecting no accent. Multi lingual, with or without an accent is more of what one sees in world leaders these days.
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  #552  
Old 03-18-2017, 08:08 AM
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English is not this compulsory than you said. It really depends on what career you do chose. For example, I m a training to become a judge this year and I will never need english for professionnal purpose. Yet, I studied it for intellectual purpose.
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  #553  
Old 03-18-2017, 08:13 AM
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Originally Posted by AdmirerUS View Post
Wouldn't a truly modern and worldly monarch be more than bilingual? And, JMO, but I think a lot of people have have moved past expecting no accent. Multi lingual, with or without an accent is more of what one sees in world leaders these days.

Unfortunately, presidents of the United States have not been known for their foreign language skills. John Kerry and probably Mitt Romney were the last major presidential candidates who could honestly claim to speak a foreign language fluently as they both speak French. George W Bush spoke broken Spanish, but was not as fluent as his brother Jeb, who I am not counting. I don't think either Obama, Trump, Hillary or Bill Clinton speak any language other than English.
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  #554  
Old 03-18-2017, 08:27 AM
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True, I've never heard that anyone seriously expects world leaders to speak several languages or without an accent. I'm sure most US Presidents in the last 40 years haven't...
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  #555  
Old 03-18-2017, 09:52 AM
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Still, William and Kate will sing the Welsh national anthem at the match today which some of the Welsh players don't even do.

There is a wide array of languages. William at least attempts to try and say a few words in the native language when abroad be it Mandarin in China or a First People tribe in Yellowknife

The Queen speaks fluent French because she had a French tutor as a little girl. She was also talk dance. She was taught things that a high born upper class lady who would be expected to marry well and live a life entertaining. If the Queen was a male, she would have been shipped off to the military as a teenager like her father and grandfather were.
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  #556  
Old 03-18-2017, 10:17 AM
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The are contrasting takes in regards to Kate's level of the french language: the children in Somme said she speaks a really good deal of french, other say she can manage a conversation, but that's all, Rebecca English even stated Kate doesn't speak French at all. Someone must be lying. LOL
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  #557  
Old 03-18-2017, 10:18 AM
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I see that this thread is mostly focused on brittish royals, but I would like to give a great example of how it can be done.

Crown princess Victoria learned english in school. She's also spent time in the US (a year at Yale university). But she also spent a year in France in her late teens (if I remember correctly), and during her last visit to France there was an interpreter there for Daniel's sake. Victoria didn't need it. She also has a working knowledge of german, even if she doesn't speak it herself.

I think she really understands how important language skills are. That is reflected in their choice to hire a nanny from Australia. As far as I can understand, she and Estelle talked to each other in english.

Victoria isn't a perfect person. But I think she understands how important languages are, and she's already doing what she can to give her kids a head start in that department. That is an example that other could follow, royal or not.
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  #558  
Old 03-18-2017, 10:41 AM
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Originally Posted by AdmirerUS View Post
Wouldn't a truly modern and worldly monarch be more than bilingual? And, JMO, but I think a lot of people have have moved past expecting no accent. Multi lingual, with or without an accent is more of what one sees in world leaders these days.
Not really. The world seems to have converged around English.

The reason many Europeans speak more than one language is that they have to, if they want to converse with anybody beyound their borders. That is just not relavent in the UK.

As regards languages in school, most UK schools will offer French and one other language till GCSE level. However, it tends not to get much beyond that level, and few young people these days bother with a foreign language. William, Catherine and Harry are not unique in this.
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  #559  
Old 03-18-2017, 12:03 PM
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Yes but William and Harry were not standard students, they are not average people Brits who do t have to worry about neighbouring countries. Nor is their education normal. Comparing them to a normal Brit is wrong.

They have all the money and access to tutors and studies. When you do your senior studies, and university, you focus on subjects for your career. For William that was being the future king. Taking studies on a foreign language would have been great.

Yes, French is only spoken in parts of Canada, but it's still spoken by millions. William is just as much the future king of people in Quebec and parts of the maritime and Ontario, as he is of the rest of Canada.

As for Gaelic, Manx and such, unlike French, none of these languages are use in standard practice any more. Though it wpuld be great if they knew some. Must say it's harder. Or at least for me. Learned a bit of welsh when I lived in Wales. Had a much easier time with Spanish, both which I studied as an adult. Bit that's because I studied French in school as a kid and that helped me adapt to Spanish which are so similar.
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  #560  
Old 03-18-2017, 12:36 PM
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I have also heard that George and Charlotte speak way better Spanish than they do English because Maria is teaching them Spanish and she is spending more time with them than anyone else (that isn't to say they aren't learning English but just that at this stage their Spanish is better). That would suggest that like earlier generations George and Charlotte are growing up bi-lingual whereas William was raised totally monolingual.
If they want the children to be at least bilingual than hiring a Spanish speaking caretaker was a wise move on their part. George might have started pre-school early to boost his English skills with other people outside of his family.
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