Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Cambodia Chooses Franco-phone Path

Cambodia Chooses Franco-phone Path

Cambodia Chooses Franco-phone Path

Cambodia's provisional government is seeking full membership to the Association of

French Speaking Countries, which is preparing to hold its annual summit in Mauritius.

Prince Norodom Ranariddh and Hun Sen, co-chairmen of Cambodia's interim administration,

wrote a letter on July 28 to Head of State Prince Norodom Sihanouk, asking for his

advice.

"The provisional government sees the proposal for full membership to the Association

of French Speaking Countries as important and useful for our country at this moment,"

the letter said.

It also said that Prince Ranariddh would soon lead a delegation to attend the Francophone

summit.

Following independence in 1954, the French language continued to be used in Sihanouk's

government institutions, especially in the field of education, and as a means to

link Cambodia with the international community. But the practice of French was banned

during the Khmer Rouge years, and was suppressed in the wake of the Vietnamese invasion

in 1979.

Fighting against what they termed imperialistic cultural expansion, pro-Vietnamese

hard-liners installed Vietnamese and Russian languages into the teaching programs

at both school and university levels.

However, private English classes, which were at first branded pro-imperialist and

outlawed, soon won broad popularity among Cambodian youth, compared to the small

percentage who sought to study French.

Refusing to give his full name, Mr. Ang, a teacher at the Institute of Economics,

said the current wrangling over which language should be used in the classroom was

confusing students. He said struggles for the use of French or English were currently

underway in the Economics, Law and Agricultural schools.

"It is not easy to make our youth switch from the current trend of learning

English to learning French. France seems to be as proud as the Soviets and Vietnamese

were. It is as if it is trying to reclaim the influence they used to have before,"

he said.

He agreed that in accordance with tradition Cambodia should use French as a second

language for communicating with the rest of the world, but noted that because of

the geographical and economic orientation of Cambodia, English was more necessary

and obviously practical.

"The long-term existence of the French language depends on a factor which is

France's economic influence (in Cambodia)," said Khieu Kanharith, minister of

information.

He noted that of the Cambodian youth presently studying foreign languages, 80 percent

know English better than French, and the same percentage exists among those ministers

and other officials of the former SOC (State of Cambodia) government who went through

foreign language training courses."Khmers are pragmatic. They learn English

so they can use it to find a job," he said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Hun Sen: Full country reopening to be decided in two weeks

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has announced that if the Covid-19 situation remains stable for 15 consecutive days from the end of the October 5-7 Pchum Ben public holiday, Cambodia will reopen fully, albeit in the context of Covid-19 whereby people have to adjust their lives to

  • Cambodia sets new Covid-19 quarantine rules

    The government has modified Covid-19 quarantine requirements, shortening the duration for, among others, Cambodian officials, foreign diplomats and delegations, investors and inbound travellers in general. According to an official notice signed by Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng late on October 16, quarantine length for Cambodian

  • Will Evergrande change the way Chinese developers do business in Cambodia?

    China’s property sector policy has exposed the grim financial condition of real estate developers including those operating in Cambodia, which raises questions over the viability of their projects and business going forward The dark blue netting draping over one of Yuetai Group Co Ltd’

  • Phnom Penh governor: Show Covid-19 vaccination cards, or else

    Phnom Penh municipal governor Khuong Sreng late on October 5 issued a directive requiring all people aged 18 and over and the parents of children aged 6-17 to produce Covid-19 vaccination cards when entering schools, markets, malls, marts, eateries and other business establishments that have been permitted

  • Cambodia seeks probe into 'false reports' on Hun Sen's alleged Cypriot passport

    Minister of Justice Koeut Rith on September 6 wrote a letter to his Cypriot counterpart Stephie Dracos requesting cooperation in investigating and providing the truth in relation to the "exaggerative and false allegations" that Prime Minister Hun Sen holds a Cypriot passport. In his letter, the

  • Cambodia voted ‘world’s friendliest country’ in Rough Guides reader poll

    Cambodia ranked number one among the “World’s Friendliest Countries”, according to a reader poll conducted by London-based international website “Rough Guides”. Taking submissions through Twitter and Facebook, “Rough Guides”, a well-known travel agency and publisher of guidebooks, said the Kingdom “was by far the