conventional long form: French Republic
conventional short form: France
Location: Western Europe, bordering the Bay of Biscay and English Channel, between Belgium and Spain, southeast of the UK; bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Italy and Spain
Ethnic Groups: Celtic and Latin with Teutonic, Slavic, North African, Indochinese and Basque minorities
Languages: French 100% (regional dialects rapidly declining)
Economy: France is currently changing from a well-to-do modern economy based on extensive government ownership and intervention to one that relies on market mechanisms. The government has partially or fully privatized many large companies, banks, and insurers. The government also has controlling states in several leading forms. France maintains social equity through laws, tax policies, and social spending that reduce income disparity and the impact of free markets on public health and welfare. The government has lowered income taxes and introduced measures to boost employment and reform the pension system.
Industries: machinery, chemicals, automobiles, metallurgy, aircraft, electronics, textiles, food processing, tourism
Agriculture: wheat, cereals, sugar beets, potatoes, wine grapes, beef, dairy products, fish
BackgroundEven though France obtained victory in both WWI and WWII, it lost its rank as a dominant nation-state. Nevertheless, today France is a leader among the European nations. France's cooperation with Germany has proved central to the economic integration of Europe, including the introduction of the euro, a common exchange currency, in January 1999. Presently, France is trying to develop the EU's military capabilities to supplement progress toward an EU foreign policy.Family LifeMost French people live in medium-sized cities. In fact, there are about 40 French cities with more than 100,000 inhabitants. Paris is the only city that has a population of more than a million people. Although life in Paris is much like that in any large cosmopolitan city, regional and rural life is more traditional and distinctive. There are variations from one region to another. The French population also includes many immigrants from other European nations, Africa and the Far East.Common-law relationships are becoming increasingly common in France. Most families are small having only one or two children. Since a single income is not enough to live on in most cities, it is common for both husband and wife to work. Due to this working situation, the government subsidizes an extensive system of daycares, known as crèches.Most French people put a high priority on spending time with their families. It is traditional that on Sundays family members get together for a meal. Although, like people in all industrialized countries, the French find it increasingly difficult to find enough time for family activities. Therefore, they value their leisure time and usually spend it with their families. Weekends and holidays are a great time for families. In fact, many families own second homes in rural areas. Gardening is popular at these homes because for most people, there is no room for a garden in the city. They visit these country houses on weekends or during their holidays.In small cities, people may own their houses or apartments. In larger cities, people usually rent apartments. The suburbs of many towns have high-rise apartment complexes, some of `which offer reduced rent for low-income families.School SystemThere are three stages of education in the school systems of France: primary, secondary, and tertiary or college. There are primarily public schools, but private schools do exist. School is manadatory starting at the age of 6. Children, may, of course, attend pre-kindergarten or kindergarten classes before this. The secondary schools are divided into two levels: college, which is similar to our middle school and lycee, which compares to our high school. Vocational pathways may also be taken or a student could decide to go to a university.Just like the United States, the French are interested in helping their students compete globally. The French also have requirements for teaching and evaluating students; however, more emphasis is placed on the students' abilities, development and interests than in how they may perform compared to other children their age on a standardized test. The French put the responsibility of making successful students solely on the teacher and not on administration or the school.Classroom Applications
The structure of the school systems is similar, so students are accustomed to similar expectations.
One of the biggest differences to note is that the United States educational system says that all students should be educated to the same level of excellence regardless of aptitude; while the French capitalize on students' strengths. Therefore, the French student is accustomed to being known as an individual and may need the education tailored in a sense. For example, perhaps slowing down the pace, giving a student individual attention until he or she understands, or looking for the best way to help a student comprehend may be needed.
The French emphasize cultural and civic responsibility so we should be aware that French students and their families value these areas of the curriculum.