Promoting multilingualism

Multilingualism in France

Learning and teaching languages in France

France promotes linguistic diversity by encouraging the teaching of a wide range of foreign languages, in both the national education system and through certified language centres.

In the French education system

In the French education system, modern foreign languages are taught at every level (primary education, secondary education both general and technical). While almost all French pupils learn English, the system also offers a wide choice of other modern and regional languages.

An English course - Léonard de Vinci school in Levallois-Perret, France (Photo: MAE / F. de La Mure)

The high school (or upper secondary) reforms introduced between 2010 and 2012 were designed to reinforce the learning of foreign languages in all high school classes to ensure that every student leaving high school is proficient in at least two modern languages.

Pupils are divided into ability groups for language lessons, and a second modern language is made compulsory on all courses, both general and technical. Language proficiency in high schools is now assessed according to the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR).

Finally, each school must form at least one partnership with a school abroad as a basis for easier organisation of language trips and exchanges between French and foreign students.

International sections are systems established within primary schools, secondary schools and general high schools to:

  • facilitate the integration of foreign pupils into the French education system
  • create a setting conducive to French pupils learning a modern language to a high level.
    High school international sections prepare pupils for the international option of the baccalaureate (OIB).

Teacher and pupil mobility

The French Ministry of Education strongly encourages language travel

The European Lifelong Learning Programme (Leonardo da Vinci and Comenius) also provides for individual student mobility initiatives.

Teacher mobility remains the best means of observing education practises in other countries and exchanging best practices between partner countries.

The European Lifelong Learning Programme (Leonardo da Vinci and Comenius) also funds mobility grants.

Cultural centres and institutes in France

Apart from Paris, the city with more cultural centres (46) than any other in the world, language centres can be found in a number of other French towns and cities.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry ofHigher Education and Research and the Ministry of Culture and Communication jointly award "Qualité français langue étrangère" (FFL Quality) certification. Over 130 language centres have already signed up to the scheme.

The Forum for Cultural Institutes in Paris (FICEP) is made up of 46 institutes, from Latin America to Asia by way of Europe, the Mediterranean, Russia, the Middle East and India. FICEP was founded with the aim of highlighting the key role that foreign cultural institutes in Paris play in promoting cultural diversity. Every autumn, the forum organises a "Foreign Cultures Week".

FFL centres in France

A centre awarded the "Qualité français langue étrangère" label in France is certified as providing French language teaching and reception services of a high standard.