French: The most practical
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
- The United Nations.
- The International Monetary Fund
- The European Community
- The 31 member Council of Europe
- The International Labor Bureau
- The International Olympic Committee
- The 31 member Council of Europe
French is the official language of
- Postal services throughout the world.
- The International Red Cross
French is the dominant working language at
- The European Court of Justice
- The European Tribunal of First Instance
- The European Court of Auditors in Luxembourg
- The Press Room at the European Commission in Brussels,
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.
THE ECONOMICS OF FRENCH AND FRANCE
- French is the foreign language spoken by our largest
trading partner (Canada).
- The U.S. and France share many trade similarities,
particularly their global standing in the worlds
top 2 exporters in 3 very important sectors: defense
products, agricultural goods, and services.
Franco-American trade is also remarkable for its
symmetry, as 6 of the top 10 exports are the same each
- France has the second largest exporter of agricultural
products in the world after the U.S.
- In recent years, the U.S. has been the largest direct
investor in France and France has been one of the 3
largest investors in the U.S.A.
- French companies employ over 800,000 Americans.
- France is the third largest destination of foreign
investments in the world.
- Overall, the French export more per capita than the
Japanese and more than twice as much as the Americans.
France is overall, the 4th largest exporting
nation of the world.
- France is the worlds leader in the production of
- More tourists visit France than any other country in the
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
- 7 of Frances top 10 exports to the U.S. are
industrial or high technology products.
- France is the 4th largest producer of
automobiles in the world (Renault, Peugeot, Citroen) and
the 3rd largest exporter. (All Mack trucks are
manufactured by Renault Vehicules Industriels.) cf. Mack
Truck in Allentown, PA.
- France ranks 4th in research among countries
of the Organization for Economic Development and
Cooperation (after Japan, Germany and the U.S.A.)
- France is a major world research center in the field of
high energy physics.
- The French are the world leaders in medical research: the
AIDS virus was first isolated by French doctors at the
- The French are a world leader in medical genetics (The
Human Genome Project is located in Paris).
- The French are the worlds 3rd
manufacturers of electronics equipment.
- European leader in aerospace (Aérospatiale, Arianespace,
- Most commercial satellites are put into space on French
- The fastest train , the T.G.V. (Train à Trés Grande
Vitesse) is French.
- The fastest commercial airplane (Concorde) is French
(built in collaboration with British Airways).
- France is the worlds 2nd military
power and has the worlds 2nd largest
defense industry( i.e Exocet missiles, radar technology).
- France is the worlds 2nd largest builder
and exporter of civilian and military aircrafts and
helicopters (Airbus is the worlds 2nd
largest fleet of commercial airliners, and all the US
Coast Guard helicopters are made by AEROSPATIALE in
- France has one of the most advanced systems of
telecommunications in the world. Fiber optics were
invented in France.
- France is the worlds largest manufacturer of
television sets (HDTV was invented in France).
IMPORTANCE OF FRENCH IN SCHOOL AND WORK
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
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
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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