Promoting French in Asia

French, a language of prestige in Asia

Asia is the continent holding out the greatest growth potential for French. After welcoming the teaching of English at the end of the 20th century, the region’s education authorities are now generally keen to diversify the range of languages on offer. The countries with the largest numbers of pupils, students and professionals learning French are India (one million learning the language), China (100,000) and Indonesia (60,000).

Growing student mobility between Asia and France is creating new language needs. French is essential for students wishing to enter the French education system. On their return to their home country, French is an asset that may encourage them become preferential partners or play a part in cooperation initiatives with France.

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Program to promote French at Delhi Public School India International (Photo: MAE / F. de La Mure)

The emergence and spread of French as a second modern language in secondary education, a trend observed in most countries throughout the region from the Philippines to China, reflects the growing influence of the French language in the region. This is closely linked to the prestigious image France enjoys in Asia.

The attractiveness of French is further reinforced in Asia by the highly competitive nature of local job markets. A second modern language on a CV is useful in enabling young graduates to stand out from the crowd.

In a region where education represents a real and significant investment, families and students prefer French to Spanish or German on the grounds of the prestige associated with French, its status as an international language and the perceived opportunities it offers in terms of education (post-graduate studies abroad) or future business prospects (the European and African markets).

MAE initiatives

The French Ministry of Foreign Affairs(French Ministry of Foreign Affairs) supports its partners by making available its expertise in the engineering of training and setting up high quality training structures: bilingual French classes in Southeast Asia (Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand) or partnerships developed with France’s grandes écoles at local schools or French high schools (classes préparatoires, preparing students to sit the requisite competitive entrance examinations).

The French Ministry of Foreign Affairs also pursues an active policy of promoting certification, to establish the DELF/DALF (basic and advanced French language diplomas) as the common standard for education systems throughout Asia.