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No English please! Survey on the languages used for research and teaching in France

Population and Societies

501, June 2013

Does English have a rightful place in our university lecture theatres? Only for foreigners, says the law of 1994, or if the subject is of an "international nature". Yet science is international by definition, not byexception. Can the law prevent scholars and teachers from using the international languages of science, beginning with English? An INED survey puts the debate in perspective by exploring the use of languagesby discipline and by generation.
A survey of public-sector researchers and academics shows that English is used almost exclusively as the international language of dialogue in the hard sciences, and is also well-established in the humanities and social sciences. English is also the language of choice for publications, meetings held in France and websites. A quarter of the surveyed researchers and academics had taught a class in English during the year. The Toubon Act of 1994 protects consumers and employees, but has not held back the expansion of English as the international language of communication in science.

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