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For generations, the French have fiercely guarded their language against the horreurs anglais. But France's education minister yesterday admitted for the first time that the secret to success is speaking better English.
Xavier Darcos claimed poor English is now a 'handicap' because all international business is conducted in the language, and said French schools would offer extra lessons during the holidays.
He also admitted that, because of globalisation, very few people outside France will being able to speak French in the future.
(Two years ago a French subsidiary of an American company was, for example, fined the equivalent of £400,000, with an ongoing fine of £16,000 a day for providing computer software to its employees in English only).