French is the international language of dance, architecture, the visual arts, theatre, fashion and haute cuisine. It’s spoken by over 200 million people, making it the ninth most spoken language in the world. Right now, approximately 750,000 people are learning it. If you can read it, you’ll be able to dip into the original works of such luminaries as Jean-Paul Sartre, Molière and Michel Foucault, and admire the words of Edith Piaf’s belting choruses.
1. A world language
More than 220 million people speak French on the five continents. The OIF, an international organisation of French-speaking countries, comprises 77 member States and governments. French is the second most widely learned foreign language after English, and the sixth most widely spoken language in the world.
2. A language for the job market
The ability to speak French and English is an advantage on the international job market. A knowledge of French opens the doors of French companies in France and other French-speaking parts of the world (Canada, Switzerland, Belgium, and the continent of Africa). As the world’s fifth biggest economy and third-ranking destination for foreign investment, France is a key economic partner.
3. The language of culture
French is the international language of cooking, fashion, theatre, the visual arts, dance and architecture. A knowledge of French offers access to great works of literature in the original French, as well as films and songs. French is the language of Victor Hugo, Molière, Léopold Sendar Senghor, Edith Piaf, Jean-Paul Sartre, Alain Delon and Zinedine Zidane.
4. A language for travel
France is the world’s top tourist destination and attracts more than 79,5 million visitors a year. The ability to speak even a little French makes it so much more enjoyable to visit Paris and all the regions of France (from the mild climes of the Cote d’Azur to the snow-capped peaks of the Alps via the rugged coastline of Brittany) and offers insights into French culture, mentality and way of life.
5. Because it’s not that difficult
We anglophones don’t have the greatest reputation for speaking foreign languages, but French is the one language in which many of us can at least utter a few words.
6. The other language of international relations
French is the language of the three cities where the EU institutions are headquartered: Strasbourg, Brussels and Luxembourg.
7. A language that opens up the world
After English and German, French is the third most widely used language on the Internet, ahead of Spanish. An ability to understand French offers an alternative view of the world through communication with French speakers from all over the world and news from the leading French-language international media (TV5, France 24 and Radio France Internationale).
8. A language that is fun to learn
French is an easy language to learn. There are many methods on the market that make learning French enjoyable for children and adults alike. It does not take long to reach a level where you can communicate in French.
9. A language for learning other languages
French is a good base for learning other languages, especially Romance languages (Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and Romanian) as well as English, since fifty per cent of current English vocabulary is derived from French.
10. Parce que je t’aime
First and foremost, learning French is the pleasure of learning a beautiful, rich, melodious language, often called the language of love. French is also an analytical language that structures thought and develops critical thinking, which is a valuable skill for discussions and negotiations.