The International Francophonie Day is being celebrated today as it is every year throughout the world and especially in the 77 member countries of the International Organization of "La Francophonie". This date commemorates the signing on March 20, 1970, of the Niamey Convention which resulted in the grouping together of French-speaking states.
Spreading the French language is a priority for French diplomacy
French, with 220 million speakers, shares with English the distinction of being the only two languages spoken and taught on all five continents. French is ranked as the sixth most widely spoken language in the world, after Mandarin Chinese (over a billion speakers), English, Hindi, Spanish and Arabic, and ahead of Portuguese (between 178 and 240 million speakers).
French is taught in education systems the world over, making it the second most widely studied foreign language after English with close on 120 million students and 500,000 French teachers outside France.
French is an international lingua franca and a working language used by European and African multilateral institutions (UN, WTO, OECD, ILO, etc.). 5% of Internet pages are published in French, which is the third most widely used language on Facebook and Wikipedia. It is also one of the languages of international business, particularly within the French-speaking world that accounts for some 15% of global wealth.
France’s diplomatic service pursues two policies designed to promote the French language and Francophony, key vectors of soft power, involving over 500 expatriate staff and a budget of some €600 million:
a bilateral policy that aims to consolidate the position of the French language beyond our borders through cooperation with local authorities to develop the role of French in their education systems (advocating the teaching of at least two modern languages, teacher training, developing bilingual education, etc.) and direct action through teaching provided by France’s cultural and educational networks.
a multilateral policy that aims to unite French-speaking countries into a political community. France actively supported the creation of an International Agency of Francophony in 1970. In 2005, the agency became the International Organisation of la Francophonie (Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie, OIF) and now comprises 77 member States and observers all sharing French as a common language. As an institution, Francophony contributes to democracy, human rights, the promotion of French and of cultural diversity, as well as to the development of shared and sustainable prosperity.
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In this section
- Promoting French around the world
- The promotion of French by region
- Tools for the promotion of French
- Learning and teaching French
- Learning French in France
- Learning French abroad
- French for the working environment
- Innovative tools for learning and teaching French
- Promoting multilingualism
- Multilingualism in France
- Promoting multilingualism at the international level