One of the world’s great languages
French is the second most widely spoken language in Europe after German. Worldwide, it is the mother tongue or official language of 300 million people. La Francophonie, the community of French-speaking nations, comprises more then 50 countries. French is spoken, among others, in the following countries and regions:
- Europe: France, Belgium. Switzerland, Luxembourg, Monaco
- Africa: Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Cameroon, Congo, Senegal, Niger, Madagascar, Côte d’Ivoire, Mali, Togo (and many more)
- North America: Québec (Canada), Louisiana and Maine (USA, lingua franca)
- Latin America: French Guyana, Haiti
- as well as numerous islands such as Tahiti, La Réunion, Guadeloupe, New Caledonia, Martinique, Mauritius, Seychelles.
French is an international lingua franca serving either as working language (e.g. UN, UNESCO, European Council) or conference language (EU) in numerous international organisations.
It is also the international language of fashion and gastronomy.
French is a gateway to learning related Romance languages, such as Italian or Spanish. The English language derives over half of its vocabulary from Romance roots.
Though in comparison to other foreign languages French may at first appear somewhat complicated, it is actually a very rewarding language to learn. It’s a bit like skiing: Once you master the technique, the fun really begins.
Numerous partnerships have been set up between German and French schools, and the Deutsch-Französisches Jugendwerk offers exchange opportunities in the context of the ‘Brigitte-Sauzay’ programme and the ‘Voltaire’ programme (see Spanish & French Links).
France has a unique cultural heritage. The fascinating world of French literature, music, philosophy and art is in constant flux. Boléro and Carmen have been joined by French hip hop and rap and the popularity of Houllebecq and the Nobel Prize laureate Claude Simon now ranks with Balzac and Proust. In the world of cinema, contemporary films such as ‘Amélie’, ‘8 Women’ or ‘Welcome to the Sticks’ are screened alongside Truffaut’s und Godart’s Nouvelle Vague films. Descartes has found worthy successors in Derrida and Foucault. French is, however, not only a solid building block for a future career, learning about France and its culture also acquaints students with another distinctive way of life.
Spanish or French?
Why not both?
Spanish and French are Romance languages that derive from a common root, Latin. With similar vocabularies and parallel grammatical structures, students of Spanish find it easy to learn French and vice versa.