I’ve long argued that British people must do more to improve their language skills, and reading the French press on a regular basis a great way to brush up. Although I still have a way to go before my French is flawless, the language skills I’ve picked up as an MEP have proved invaluable in enabling me to communicate better with my parliamentary colleagues in Brussels. Although English is the most commonly-spoken language in the European Parliament, I have noticed that many MEPs feel much more comfortable conversing in French. There are other benefits too, I do not have to keep headphones on anywhere near as much for translation in committee meetings. I have also been able to put forward the British Labour view on French television and radio.
I want to encourage curiosity about languages so I am going to start tweeting stories from the two French newspapers I read most, Le Monde and La Libération. I often find interesting and well-researched pieces in these papers, many of which are not picked up by the British press. This includes a range of articles on the activities European Union, which are generally far less Euro-sceptic than those of equivalent UK papers.
For those of you whose French is a bit rusty, or who have perhaps never studied the language, I recommend Google translate as a useful resource for getting to grips with my upcoming French tweets!
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