A LESSON in the benefit of learning languages was inadvertently given to a group of young Hackney hip-hoppers during a music exchange trip to Paris.
Ade Paton, one of the trippers, admitted that “the language difference made it hard to communicate” even though music is, of course, “a universal language”.
Yet collaborating with the musicians in Paris was “great”. He added: “We learnt some French phrases… but it was the musical references that made it easy to share ideas.”
Six rappers and producers, aged 18 to 22, got the chance to rehearse and perform a concert with 14 young Parisians. The excursion is part of a scheme, the Youth Engagement Project, that has formed links with youth organisations around the French capital to build on the musical aspirations of Hackney youngsters.
The project team will host the young Parisians in London later this year 2014.
Learning English has become increasingly popular in France in the last few decades, which is just as well. A press release about the exchange said that the English group was able to experience Parisian culture through food, shopping and “networking with interpreters” – another blow to any incentive for the Hackneyites to communicate in French.
In Britain education ministers over the years have tinkered again and again with the place of languages in the national curriculum. The overall message given to children is the one absorbed by earlier generations: a knowledge of English will suffice.
Hamish Scott 200714
* The photographs at top and above (© Julien Creff), supplied by Hackney Homes, show Hackney hip-hop youth larking about in the street in Paris and Redd (foreground) performing in the City of Light, Astuce, left, and Soze in the background
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