Until 10 or 15 years ago, French people didn't really have to learn English. France was a place where tourists came and felt inferior because they couldn't speak French. Vive la francophonie! And le rayonnement culturel!
Now, though, all the good jobs in France require English. Even a lot of the non-good jobs. Managing international affairs requires English. Important people who don't speak English well are made fun of in the media. (Can you imagine an American VIP being ridiculed by everyone for making mistakes in his Spanish or her French?) It must be mortifying for people who believe French is clearly the superior language (there are a lot of them).
But which English? British, North American, Australian, Irish, New Zealander, South Efrican?
As in the past, the French usually want to learn British English. The UK is a lot closer and French people can work there legally with no problem. But lately I've been noticing that young people don't care any more which English they learn. Maybe their English is now good enough to notice that there's no unbridgeable gap between British English and le sabir atlantique or American gibberish, as the non-English-speaking generation before them (ostentatiously fond of its "cher Shakespeare") believed. Much less anti-American-English snobbery. Is there a new era in the works? When French translations are no longer labeled "From the American"?