The Casual Reporter: Cowboys & Indians Must Learn French or Die

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Cowboys & Indians Must Learn French or Die

Americans playing Cowboy or Indian in Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show (La Legende de Buffalo Bill,Disney Village, Disneyland Paris France) must know enough French to obtain a Diplome Initial de Langue Franciase (DILF) according to new French Immigration Laws, or they will die. Well, not really, but they might not be able to get their 10 years-valid Carte de Resident, and therefore could theoretically be asked to leave once their 3-year Carte de Sejour expires. (As far as I can tell, 1 and 3 year Carte de Sejour applicants aren't required to know French.) For those who don't know enough French to obtain a DILF, the French government provides 400 hours of French courses. Free French lessons may sound great to some, but at least one of the Cowboys in our show who is required take 6 months of lessons, 3 hours per day, 3 days per week expresses frustration that despite his best efforts he doesn't feel he's learning anything. As someone hired as an American to play an American in an American show for an American company, albeit in France, speaking French was never a requirement for the job; since learning French was never a desire otherewise, this particular cowboy doesn't know a lick of it. Well, after three years maybe a lick but that's about it. The French classes so generously offered through Disneyland Paris Resort apparently require students to understand far more than just a lick from the outset. That means the cowboy, although a great guy and a hell of a good hand in the show, is sweating his job because he may not be able to learn enough French in time to renew his work papers. Whatever happened to the Wild West?


  1. Hi Trent,
    just two points to your article. If You expect to get a job in the states you are required to speak english even if you work in a french bakery and french restaurant. It's also a way to respect the country you live in.
    second point is that I'm afraid you don't really know the Disneyland resort Paris Financial Structure. Disney in Paris is a Franchise.
    Disneyland PAris is owned by The ACCORD french group which is the first Compagny in the world for hotels and the Flo group (Restaurants) and they paying royalties for the Franchise
    the financial structure in France of Disneyland Paris is made of auctions up to 47% by an Arabian Cheik and the rest is Owned by French Banks as BNP....As a reporter please check your sources.

  2. Thanks for the comment! I wasn't aware DLRP is part of the ACCORD group. Very interesting.
    To be clear, respect for the host country's culture notwithstanding, I think it logical that foreigners hoping to win a 10-year unrestricted Carte de Resident should be expected to speak enough French to function autonomously at at least a basic level. According to, a website devoted to the process of applying for a green card (the equivalent of France's Carte de Resident), an English language test is not part of the process. United States Immigration Support states that students and those wishing to obtain a Green Card via the Lottery Process must pass an English test, but says nothing about an English test for those seeking a Green Card via the Employment path. So while it may be very unusual for a U.S. employer to hire someone who doesn't speak English, it can legally be done, at least according to my limited research. In France, it's now a requirement as part of a legally binding contract between the immigrant and the French state.

  3. P.S. My research, limited to the web, shows that DLRP's parent company is Eurodisney S.C.A. as I'd always assumed. In the description of ownership and structure I found no mention of Accord, although I didn't pour through every page. Considering Eurodisney SCA is a public company wherein, as mentioned above, a Sheik owns 47% and the rest of the shares are publicly held, how can DLRP be "owned" by Accord? I wouldn't be surprised if Accord operates the hotel and catering business, for example, but ownership is suspect. Something's fishy here..

  4. Hi Trent!
    I've found your article very interesting and I can say that I am very surprise about it. Actually, I am French and I work in Disneyland Paris and I didn't hear anything about DILF. I find it very ridiculous because as you said, you work for an american show and you needn't to speak french to do it ( According to me). I have seen your show a lot of time and in fact I know you and your colleagues! This news make me sad for those who don't speak French and especially for this cowboy you mentionned in your article! Hope everything will be okay for him and the Wild West Show!

  5. Hey Trent,
    I was just reading some of the comments and I wanted to point something out to to the person who said "if you expect to get a job in the states you are required to speak english even if you work in a french bakery and french restaurant. It's also a way to respect the country you live in."
    First I would like to say that I don't feel that its disrespectful to not learn the language. Yes, its a great thing to learn, but I don't think that people are intentionally being disrespectful by not learning the language. Second, I would like to say that you do not have to be able to speak english to work in the U.S. I am from Las Cruces New Mexico and can promise that there are PLENTY of people, who work all over that state, in all kinds of jobs, and they don't speak any English at all. And I'm not talking about migrant farm workers either. You can find these people in restaraunts, clothing stores, offices, ranches, construction, almost any Wal-Mart, etc....


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