French: The most practical foreign language

While any language will be useful for some jobs or for some regions, French is the only foreign language that can be useful throughout the world as well as the United States. French as a foreign language is the second most frequently taught language in the world after English. It is spoken as an official language in 33 countries around the world and is the only language other than English spoken on five continents.

French and English are the only two global languages.

When deciding on a foreign language for work or school, French is the ;language that will give you the most choices later on in your studies or your career.

French, along with English, is the official working language of:

French is the official language of

French is the dominant working language at

One example of the importance of French can be seen in a recent listing of International jobs(4/8/97) distributed by the US State Department: 47 required or preferred French, 29 Spanish, 10 Russian, and 3 German.




Historically France and the French language have had enormous influence over American society. French thought played a dominant role among the founders of the Unites States in the 18th Century and it continues to shape American today through the influence of such intellectual currents as post-structuralism and post-modernism.

In the humanities and the social sciences many of the most important writings have come from France. Students and researchers who know French have access to these works for several years before they are translated into English. Many significant works are never translated and remain accessible only to those who know the language. In addition, most graduate schools require knowledge of at least one foreign language.

When employers and universities look at applicants, they do not start looking at the bottom of the list to see who has done only the minimal amount of requirements necessary or taken the easiest route available (avoiding a field which requires knowledge of a foreign language, for example), they start at the top of the list and look for those students who have risen above the rest. High school students should consider studying at least four years of a foreign language. With French they have access to the most widely spoken foreign language in the world after English and they become familiar with a culture that significantly influences our own. The French economy is one of the strongest in the world and is increasingly a leader in technological innovation. In sum, French is the language of the future.

Text prepared by Richard Shryock

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech.)

Dept. of Foreign Languages and Literatures

Revised by Dr. S. Pascale Dewey

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