French is spoken on five continents by over 200 million speakers, and is classified as the fourth most spoken language in the world when including second language speakers. Geopolitically, however, it is the world’s second official language: the International Organization of La Francophonie (OIF), created in 1970, has 70 member states and governments of which over 30 have French as an official language. Furthermore, French, along with English, is an official working language of many international organizations, such as the UN, UNESCO, NATO, and the IOC. French is also cited as the language most often required or requested for international jobs by the US State Department and, according to the OIF, French is the third most important language of the Internet.
A world leader in the fields of technology and scientific research, France is the home of the Minitel (precursor to WWW online services), the TGV or Train à Grande Vitesse (one of the fastest trains in the world), the Institut Pasteur (a leader in medical research which first isolated the AIDS virus), and Airbus (one of the world’s principal aerospace engineering firms). France is also a major research partner in the field of high energy physics, and in nearby French-speaking Switzerland is found CERN, the world’s largest and most complex atom smasher.
France has very important commercial ties to the US, with over 200 French companies found within the State of Florida. France is the 9th largest trading partner for the US, while the US is France’s top trading partner outside of Europe. Furthermore, French is one of the official languages of the US’s largest trading partner, Canada. Thus, the mastery of French can lead to many opportunities in international business.
Alongside its modern achievements, France is well known for its luxury products such as perfumes, wines, and designer fashions, as well as its cultural icons including many authors, actors, film makers, singers, and painters, of which the French are very proud. Knowledge of the French language, along with its rich cultural heritage, can therefore be important assets to any business relationship involving the French.
For more information on the importance of studying French, please consult the following web sites and documents:
To receive more information about majoring in French, or questions about specific courses in French, please contact the Department of Modern Languages at 305-348-2851.
Chairperson: Pascale Bécel