I was not surprised that everyone there had studied a second language at some point. In fact, one of the guests, a German expat, already has firm plans to raise bilingual children. We debated the usefulness of knowing Spanish here in the United States and the future potential of speaking an Asian language, like Chinese. However, I was surprised that many at the table weren’t aware of the breadth or utility of the French language.
"In case you have dismissed the French language, or perhaps you love it and want more of it, there are quite a few reasons why it makes an excellent second (or third, fourth, or fifth) language to have in your back pocket."
French is one of the only languages spoken on five continents.More than 220 million people speak French on five continents. After English, it is the second most widely learned language in the world. Just check out the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie, an international organization of French-speaking countries comprised of 77 member states and governments. French is the official language of 32 nations and is widely spoken in 55 countries.
French is a career asset.French is an official and working language of the United Nations, the European Union, UNESCO, NATO, the International Olympic Committee, the International Red Cross, and international courts. France, as the world’s fifth biggest economy, attracts entrepreneurs, researchers, and elite foreign students. The ability to speak both French and English can put you or your child at an advantage for finding a job with many multinational companies in a wide range of sectors (retail, automotive, luxury goods, aeronautics, fashion, gastronomy, art).
French is a travel language.France is the world’s top tourist destination, attracting 89 million visitors each year. I already noted how widely spoken French is around the globe. This language comes in handy no matter where you go, from France, Canada, and Haiti, to Africa, Switzerland, Belgium, Monaco, the Seychelles, Lebanon, Vanuatu, and more. Your ability to speak French, even a little, increases your chances of communicating abroad and making your trip so much more enjoyable.
French is great for college.Ok, I won’t lie. We have some excellent schools here in Boston and the United States. But let’s think outside of our bubble to some of the of world’s most notable universities and business schools. A good number are Francophone (and may be less expensive than American schools), including McGill, INSEAD, the Sorbonne, and more. Students with a good level of French are eligible for French government grants to enroll in postgraduate courses in France in a discipline of their choice and qualify for internationally recognized degrees.
French is useful for learning other languages. Plus, you may already know 15,000 French words!Did you know that a significant portion of modern-day English vocabulary is derived from French? It’s also a good base for learning other languages, especially Romance languages, like Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, and Romanian. Believe me, I breezed through college Italian simply because I had seven prior years of French language education. A++ right here!
Although we are a little biased here at the Center, we applaud becoming a polyglot* no matter which language you’re learning, or how young or old you start. After all, our mission is to inspire our diverse community to explore, understand, and embrace today’s interconnected world. But if this post hasn’t convinced you that the French language is worth considering, then I invite you to come to the Center (we are open to public) to see how big the Francophone world is and all it has to offer.
* A polyglot is someone who knows or speaks multiple languages. There's an old joke that someone who speaks four languages is quadrilingual, a speaker of three languages is trilingual, someone with two languages is bilingual, and someone who knows only one language is American or British. Very funny…
Former Director of Marketing
Originally from New Jersey, Jamie graduated from the University of Rhode Island with a degree in International Business and a minor in French. She also completed a semester abroad in Marseille, France. Jamie fell in love with the French language as a child when her sister brought home a high school French book, and looks forward to continuing her education at the French Library.See All Jamie's Posts