Expanding Access to Learning French [Archives:1998/41/Culture]

October 12 1998

Mr. Benoit Tadie is the new Cultural Attache at the French Embassy in Sanaa. He is in charge of scientific and cultural cooperation with Yemen.
He arrived in Yemen a few weeks ago.
Q: Can you share with us your background?
A: I was a lecturer of English at the Sorbonne University – Paris. I taught English and American literature. I’ve been there since January, 1995.
Before that, while doing my doctorate in English, I spent some time at Oxford and Cambridge.
Q: Did you have any interest or contact with the Arab World?
A: I had worked as a assistant professor of French at the University of Jordan.
In terms of Arabic, I studied Arabic at the Oriental Languages Institute in Paris and received a diploma from there. I translated some literature from Arabic to French.
I had also taken some Arabic courses for foreigners when I was in Jordan.
Q: What are your impressions of Yemen, so far?
A: I’m making my dream come true by coming to Yemen, because it is a country I’ve always wanted to visit. I’ve read so much and seen so many pictures about the country. My expectations about Yemen are being realised.
The architecture, the contrast between the high mountains and the green valleys are all fascinating. For me, it was a chance to come to an Arab country which I think is more Arab than any other Arab country. I’m not saying that from a critical angle but more so from a linguistic point of view.
When I was in Jordan or Syria or wherever, people tend to speak English or French. However, in Yemen you can feel the original touch. Most of the people I talked use their own native language.
Q: Do you have specific ideas you plan to pursue in the field of cultural cooperation?
A: The general policy is to strengthen already existing cultural ties, especially from a linguistic angle. My plan is more to listen to what people have to say. I didn’t come with ready-made ideas which I want to impose on people. What I want to do is to learn what is already there, and build on it.
I’m interested also in the traces of civilizations I’ve already come across in this country.

Mr. Jean Francois Fau is the Linguistic Attache at the French Embassy in Sanaa. He is also new in the country. His previous foreign services were in Nigeria, Egypt and Italy.
Q: How do you plan to expand and improve the teaching of French in Yemen?
A: Apart from the universities (Sanaa and Aden), French is taught in 8 or 9 high schools. There is also the French Cultural Center in Sanaa.
We want to increase access to French language through more cooperation in Sanaa and Aden. The Department of French at Sanaa University, which has its independent office and library could play a role in this. I am sure we can improve its activities.
Q: Are you getting positive interaction for these plans?
A: First, let me say, I already like the people and country. This makes it easy to interact positively. But I can only asnwer your question after a while.