One of the beauties of Monaco is the number of languages our local citizens and many residents are masterful at speaking. It is quite a normal sight to see locals switching from French to talk animatedly to an Italian friend, wonderful hand gestures included. Similarly, there is extensive mastery of English, one could even say two types of English, the Queen’s English and American.
What will be more common in future is to occasionally hear Monegasque which is systematically supported in the schools. This could be a fun, almost secret code for some and culturally important for everyone. The subject is taken by all students from grade 2 to grade 5 in Monaco schools. It’s a rite of passage and an important way of assimilating the culture and traditions that bind the community together.
There is a little bit of torture that goes with learning unfortunately. It is mostly interesting and fun but there is exam day. And the students of the colleges and high schools of Monaco recently had a special little test in Monegasque. In an amphitheatre, middle and high school students from public and private institutions in the Principality prepared to take a test on the Monegasque language and its history.
There were over 1,200 students in all who participated in the exam. Karyn Salopek-Ardisson is the coordinator for the Monegasque language and is most interested in their success and particularly that they take pleasure from the experience.
The very best students, in fact the top 80, who succeed in this written test qualify for yet more rigorous grilling – they go on to jump more hurdles and participate oral tests. At the end of the rainbow, not a pot of gold, rather a great sense of satisfaction. And the icing on the cake is that they will parade in an awards ceremony on June 1. Dignitaries from Monaco will be there on the Rock to recognize their achievement. Parents glowing with pride and the children enjoying this rite of passage – it’s a special day in the life of families in Monaco. Some of these children will add Monegasque to their Baccalaureate, some of them will teach the language. All of them will carry the Monegasque culture and language proudly forward.