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Sacre bleu! Proposal to legalize English-language courses at French universities stirs debate

France's National Assembly is taking up an education reform bill that would allow public universities to hold some courses — like science or economics classes — in English, a plan that has alarmed language purists and the political far-right alike.

President Francois Hollande's Socialist-led government is pushing the idea to better prepare French students for the global job market and lure more foreign brains.

But France's complex history with Britain means perceived incursions of the language of Shakespeare often go down badly.

Higher Education Minister Genevieve Fioraso notes some schools are already violating the law by holding 790 courses in foreign languages — mostly English — across the country. She wants to make it legal and allow state-run universities to do so.