Why Study Languages?
Forty-four (44) countries with over125 million people on five
continents around the world – Africa, Europe, and many areas in North
America, as well as Haiti, French Guyana, and numerous islands in the
Indian Ocean and the South Pacific, use French either as an official
language or as a primary language.
French is a
second language of over 100 million people living in non-francophone
areas all around the globe.
French is the second
most spoken language in Europe.
In Canada, our
neighbor to the north and our primary trading partner, 20 percent of
the population speaks French.
countries speak French as an official or as a primary
French is among the principal languages of
diplomacy and of important international organizations. French is an
official language of the United Nations, the European Union, and is the
official language of the Olympic Games.
the fourth language in the world for most books in
French is an important language of scientific
and technological research.
French is the second
language of the Internet.
Around 50 percent of
English words come from the French
Knowledge of the French language and
culture increases the ability to interact effectively with people
around the world, giving direct access to knowledge and information
from these countries and cultures. It allows face-to-face negotiations
in political, business, and personal dealings.
ability to communicate in French prepares students for school and
community service projects, increases their employment options both at
home and abroad, and expands their opportunities for leisure
France and French-speakers played an
important role in the history of the North American continent. Many
place names in the U.S. show the presence of the French, who explored
the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River down to the Gulf of Mexico.
Writers of the Declaration of Independence and the United States
Constitution spent time in France and found inspiration in the writings
of the French philosophers, such as Rousseau and Montesquieu. During
the American Revolution, Lafayette gave assistance to General
Washington, and France contributed to the decisive battle of
In the twentieth century, the U.S.
assisted its French allies in World War I and World War II, and
contributed to the renovation of such sites as Versailles and Monet’s
garden in Giverny. Paul Revere was a descendant of the French Huguenots
who came to settle in New England in the seventeenth
The United States is home to 1.7 million
people who consider French their first language. There are over 12
million Americans who claim French or French Canadian ancestry,
according to the 1990 Census Bureau.
language is admired for its beauty, clarity, semantic reliability,
strength in verbs, and the way that it communicates the universals of
contemporary material culture.
French culture is
widely appreciated throughout the world especially in the areas of the
arts, literature, music, film, theater, and cuisine. French is the
language of many great literary masterpieces. Reading French allows the
reader to enjoy these works and authors in their original
Students enrolled in the study of languages
including French have higher SAT scores for each year of language
studied than students who do not study a foreign
Learning a new language such as French
increases problem-solving skills and improves memory, self-discipline,
Studying French helps students
expand their vocabulary. The study of French helps with the
understanding of English
In Minnesota there
are hundreds of companies that are owned and/or operated by French,
Belgian, Swiss, or Canadian businesses.
essential for anyone wishing to work for the European Union, in
translation, in the media, in business and in cultural
The NAFTA treaty signed by the United
States, Canada and Mexico opened the doors for additional trade and
communication among those countries.
market represents an untapped market for American products.
Europe is the world's largest market; France is
Europe's second largest market. France has the fourth largest world
economy. France is and has been one of the three largest investors in
Seven of France's top ten exports to the
U.S. are industrial or high technology. For the past twenty years,
France has dominated the market for new communications
France is the leading tourist destination
in the world. More people annually visit France than live in France.
France is the hub and crossroads of Europe.
is the second largest exporter of services and agricultural products,
and first in wine production and Number 1 in sales of luxury
More than three-fourth of Canada's exports
are directed towards the U.S.
Belgium, where French
is one of the official languages, is at the forefront of political
activity and serves as residence to the European Union and the North
Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
where French is one of the official languages, has a highly developed
economy with trading and financial relations with countries all over
There is great demand for teachers of
world languages such as French in secondary
Considering a career in science or
medicine? Over the centuries, France has played a leading role in the
--1794 Smallpox Vaccine
--1811 Morphine (Bernard
--1811 Iodine (Bernard Courtois)
Stethoscope (René Laennec)
--1818 Hydrogen Peroxide (Louis
-- 1820 Quinine (Pierre Pelletier and Joseph
--1853 Aspirin (Charles Gerhardt)
Pasteurization (Louis Pasteur)
-- 1885 Rabies Vaccine (Louis
--1889 Antibiotics (Vuillemin)
Vaccine (André Chantemesse and Fernand Widal)
Radioactivity (Henri Becquerel)
--1898 Radium (Marie
--1905 Intelligence Test (Alfred Binet and Théodore
--1906 -1923 BCG-a Tuberculosis Vaccine (Albert
Calmette and Camille Guérin)
--1934 Artificial Radioactivity
(Frédéric and Irène Joliot-Curie)
--1983 Isolation of HIV
Virus (Luc Montagnier in France and Robert Gallo in the
National Standards in Foreign Language Education Project. Standards for
Foreign Language Learning in the 21st Century. 1999. Allen Press, Inc.
2. Facts on France collected from the FL TEACH
national listserv, August 1996)
3. Why Study French? Richard
Shryock, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia
Tech), Dept. of Foreign Languages and Literatures, Blacksburg, VA.
"United States Government Country Commercial Guide FY 1999: France,"
Info-France USA, The Importance of the French Language/L'importance de
la langue française by Alvord G. Branan, Co-Director Center for
International Business Education and Research San Diego State
University and Bernard Moreau, Attaché Linguistique Consulat Général de
France, San Francisco, California. Special thanks to Dr. Eric DuPlessis
of Radford University who also contributed information