With the Paris Olympics in mind, police officers are taking foreign language courses, especially in English. The ideal? Improve your skills and interact with the millions of tourists expected next summer in France. RMC Sport was able to attend an English course given at the Clermont-Ferrand Police Academy.
In a small classroom in the building, seven coaches sit facing a blackboard. The seven were police officers from across France. “Today, we’re going to come up with a safety plan during the Olympic event,” explains Claire, the English coach. In groups of three and four, the policemen start working. “We have the task of organizing the visit of the President of the Republic during the 5 kilometer race: fan zones, relief system, evacuation and making sure everything goes well”, explains Laurent, CRS in Marseille. Mobilized for the Paris Olympics. “France is hosting this event this summer and we have to be at the top from a security point of view and from a public reception point of view. We’ve already been abroad, see a police colleague and ask us our way. We’re very happy if we’re in English and well informed.”
“They think they can’t do it, they don’t have the status, they can’t put two words together…”
So a week or 24 hours of lessons, Laurent and his colleagues try to improve. “I had school English, but now we’re re-enacting everything we’ve learned, everything we’ve buried, and it’s great.” Because in the classroom, the rule is simple: once you walk through the front door, don’t speak a word of French. “The goal of this course is to open speaking skills. It’s to improve oral expression and fluency. They all know how to speak English, but they come there because they have blocks, and we try to have a fun and interactive learning environment.” With a smile, Claire leads these English sessions throughout the year. “They think they can’t do it, they don’t have the status, they can’t put two words together, we see progress and opening. The course is called a booster and it’s to inspire confidence in them,” explains the trainer.
In a good scenario, seven police officers complete their security training. Some look up their words and ask how it is said in English because it is a specific vocabulary to maintain order and security. “During this internship, there is a lot of input in vocabulary and grammar. All this in the Olympic aspect, we manage to touch on specific themes in response to the requests of tourists,” says the Marseille CRS. Before his peers, Laurent will present his hypothetical defense plan. And he is very comfortable speaking with few hesitations and mastered vocabulary.
“Police’s English Language Level Reflects Population”
All these courses for volunteer police officers are supervised by Vincent. He is head brigadier and English language trainer at the Clermont-Ferrand Police Academy: “Globally speaking, I will tell you that the level of the police reflects the image of the population. A police officer can do their daily work in English, the B1 level allows them to do their job without showing off. A foreigner participating in the Olympics should find a police officer who can speak a foreign language.” After a week of training, the police officers have to work on themselves to maintain their level of English until the Olympics.
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