European language and Erasmus

Should all EU business be conducted in English?

I think all EU members and languages deserve respect, not just one. Forcing everybody to speak one language, however convenient, would alienate the rest of the EU citizens.

Instead of rewarding ignorance and laziness, we should promote further programmes like Erasmus, so that many more young people have the chance to live and study in other parts of Europe. When we travel, we learn that people from other countries are just like us, that they have the same aspirations, infinitely more in common than we thought while sitting at home. Booze party travel doesn’t teach us to appreciate the rest of the world, living and studying in other countries does. In fact Erasmus should be the modern replacement for draft. Ehen there was national military service, young men would leave Home to perform miliatry service. They’d have to learn to live without mum and dad, to become adults, sometimes the hard way. Since the draft was abolished, we’ve lost that great way of mixing people from different parts of the country, from different classes and backgrounds. Erasmus is, for a small percentage of lucky young people – no longer just men – a way of fleeing the nest, of standing on their own two feet, of discovering other cultures, languages, cities and countries. If done right, of becoming European, not just German, French or British. And let’s not underestimate the value of meeting and, sometimes marrying, fellow Europeans, with the consequent new generations of transnational – better, post-national children and young people. There may be still hope for Europe, if we don’t surrender to the siren song of nationalism and nascent fascisms raising their heads as a consequence of the undigested 2008 crisis.

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