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Spreading the French language is a priority for French diplomacy

French is spoken by 220million people throughout the world. It is the sixth most widely spoken language, after Mandarin Chinese (over one billion speakers), English, Hindi, Spanish and Arabic, and ahead of Portuguese (between 178 and 240million speakers).

Taught in education systems worldwide, it is the second most widely learnt language after English, with almost 120million learners and half a million teachers abroad.

It is a tool of international communication, serving as a working language in African, European and multilateral forums (e.g. UN, WTO, OECD, ILO).

French is the third most widely used language on Facebook and Wikipedia. It is one of the languages of the international economy, especially in the French-speaking world, which accounts for around 15% of global wealth.

The appeal of the French language in figures:

  • 320,000pupils, including 62% non-French nationals, in 488French lycées abroad;
  • 50million learners of French as a foreign language;
  • 61% of French Foreign Trade Advisors believe that the image of France and the French language is an asset for businesses.

The economic potential of the French-speaking world:

  • 770million people by2050
  • Fourth largest geopolitical area in terms of population by 2050
  • $47billion increase in French exports from2020
  • Over360,000jobs created or maintained in France in five years

In order to promote French and the French-speaking world, furthering France’s influence abroad, the actors of French diplomacy have established the following:

a bilateral policy which aims to raise the profile of French abroad through cooperation projects with local authorities to promote French within their education systems (campaigning for the teaching of at least two foreign languages, teacher training, development of bilingual education, etc.) and through teaching provided directly by the French school and cultural networks.

a multilateral policy which aims to bring French-speaking countries together as a political community. France supported the creation of the International Agency of La Francophonie in1970. Today, the International Organisation of La Francophonie (IOF) has 77Member States and observers with French as a common language. This institution representing the French-speaking world contributes to peace, democracy, human rights, the promotion of French and cultural diversity, and the development of shared and sustainable prosperity.

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