How important in the French language on a global scale?

The French Language in the Francophone World from the OIF’s 2014 report.

According to the L’Organisation internationale de la Francophonie (OIF) 274 million French speakers exist in the world. French is the 5th most spoken language in the world and the 2nd most learned foreign one. These facts come from a 2014 report which discussed French’s progress since 2010.

Because “the lack of linguistic diversity encourages uniformity in the way we perceive and think the world,” the OIF is trying to keep French and multilingualism alive within international organizations.

The OIF claims that the number of French speakers has increased by 7%, or 13 million since 2010. There has also been a 6% increase in people who study French as a second language (however the European continent experienced an 8% decline).

The growth of the French language is primarily coming from Africa, which uses French or English as the lingua franca. However to continue to progress, many more French teachers will be needed in Africa, else the feasibility of 650 million francophones by 2050 seems unlikely.

The French Language Internationally and Politically

French is one of the five official languages of the United Nations. French claims the spot of the 3rd most important global business language, after English and Chinese (Bloomberg), and the 2nd business language of the European zone after English (but still ahead of German, Russian, Italian and Spanish).

The French language has an increasing presence on the internet, Francophones are now the 4th most abundant type of internet user. Likewise, French is the 3rd used language on blogs.

After the United States and the United Kingdom, France remains the 3rd destination students go to when studying abroad.

My Personal Interpretation

As a person who is fluent in French, I’m happy that a language I love dearly is being spoken. More so, I’m happy that people are taking the time to learn a foreign language, whether it be English, Mandarin, Spanish, Italian, German, Arabic, Russian, Hebrew, or any of the other 6,000 known human languages. However while 274 million speakers is formidable, the French language’s progress isn’t as impressive when compared to a language with international success such as English, and it feels as though French people would love that to be the case.

Things change, French used to be the global lingua franca in the past; now it’s English. I enjoy that people learn my language, it’s an honor, really. It would be foolish to say that English will remain the most important language on the international stage forever, but it seems that English will continue to be a large player by 2050. However, is French going to remain relevant or will other languages overtake French’s political and economic importance?

I feel as though French institutions in general are going through great lengths to keep the French language and prevent it from slowly decaying. When you watch French politicians on TV say they will spread the French language they will always receive an uproar of applause, and yet the same people who are applauding will go and tell French job seekers that learning English is necessary to advance themselves professionally (or be taken seriously internationally). Let’s be honest, one of the easiest ways for France to remain important internationally isn’t just by beefing up it’s military with 10,000 troops but by spreading its language. This expansion rests as a subtle, remnant reminder of France’s previous colonialism.

Regardless of my personal interpretation, FrenchCrazy will continue to help teach and spread the French language to the masses. French has benefited and enriched my life, I hope it does the same for you. That’s the importance of French worldwide.

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