Formidable! You have chosen to learn French, the most frequently studied world language after English, and are becoming a citizen of the world. Your sphere immediately expands to include 175 million French speakers in more than 50 countries and millions of people who have studied French on five continents. And did you know that about 2 million people speak French as a first language in the U.S.?
In addition to learning the language, you will discover the uniqueness of many cultures from around the world. You will have the opportunity to explore Quebec, the Caribbean, West and North Africa, Europe, and the Pacific Ocean islands, to name a few. It is remarkable that through one language, French, the richness of these diverse regions can be learned and experienced. You can connect to the Francophone world through e-mail correspondence or by travel and study experiences.
Did you select French because it is a language associated with renowned artists, literary giants, medical, scientific, and technological break-through discoveries, and an enviable sense of style? French can also improve your English-language skills since French is more like English than is any other Romance language, such as Italian and Spanish. More than 30% of English vocabulary is derived from French. How many French expressions related to government, law, food, art, music, dance, cinema, literature, architecture, fashion, or diplomacy do you already know: coup d’état, bon appétit, faux pas, genre, à la mode, pas de deux, carte blanche, and déjà vu?
As you plan your future, French can lead to fulfilling careers in many fields: manufacturing, finance, law, government, education, the sciences, journalism, advertising, telecommunications, tourism and hospitality. Your language skills will also benefit you in working with international agencies like the International Red Cross, UNESCO, the World Health Organization, and the International Olympic Committee. Did you know that the majority of U.S. exports are to countries having French as a national language? Exports to bilingual Canada alone are greater than the combined exports to all countries south of the United States. Approximately $1 billion in commercial transactions take place between the U.S. and France each day. In terms of emerging markets, French-speaking Africa occupies an area larger than the U.S.
You undoubtedly chose French for very personal reasons. Imagine yourself as a fluent speaker of the language, communicating in French with people all around the globe, being an international student in a French-speaking country, or attending the Cannes Film Festival. How about serving in the Peace Corps in a Sub-Saharan African country, working with Médecins sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders), or negotiating a business deal for a multinational company?
As you continue your journey as a French speaker, and as you open doors to opportunities that become possible just because you have chosen to communicate in French, let me wish you Bonne chance!(Good luck!). May you enjoy the adventure that awaits you.