5 Reasons to Learn French

5 Reasons to Learn French

Thursday, September 22nd, 2011

You may have heard that learning a foreign language is a great thing to do.  As well as being lots of fun, it develops a whole range of skills, making you better at everything from math to multi-tasking.  And due to the growth of our global society, it’s always a help to speak more than one language.  So we’re sold on the fact that learning a new language is a good idea.  But why French?  Here are 5 reasons why French should be top of your list of languages to learn.

Culture

You don’t have to know a country’s language to read its books or watch its movies.  But you’ll never get to the heart of a culture and the things it produces unless you do.  And as France can boast being winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature more than any other country, production of some of the most interesting international films, being a centre for art and fashion, and generally the cultural hotspot of the universe then it’s not a bad language to learn.

The wonderful thing about being bilingual is it means you’re also bicultural.  Because nothing gives you a better understanding of a country and its people than having a good grasp of its language.

Food and Wine

We can’t talk about a country’s culture without giving a thought to some of the finest things that culture has created.  And nobody thinks of France without thinking cuisine – because that’s where the word came from.  And whether you’re a lover of foie gras or French fries, the chance is you’ve at some point salivated over the best that the French have cooked up.

And that’s not even talking about the wines.  The US may be a mean contender when it comes to a Californian White but the French are the granddaddies of the vine.  And although both food and wine can be enjoyed without speaking French, the best that the country has to offer is found in the country itself.  And if you speak the language, then you’re more likely to get beyond tourist offerings and discover the true local fare.

Business

There are currently 2,400 US companies operating in France, creating over a quarter of a million jobs.  But that’s nothing compared to the 3,000 French companies running out of the US, that give our economy an extra 700,000 jobs.  The US is the leading foreign economic investor in France, and the France is the second biggest investor in the US.  That’s a lot of business.

And when it comes to business, it’s all about speaking the same language.  It’s true that many French people have great English.  But it’s also true that the French respect foreigners who make the added effort to speak French.  So if you’re one of the hundreds of thousands of Americans that deals with French business partners or clients you’ll understand that speaking their language is just good business sense.

Improve your English

Yes, you read that right.  You may not know it but French is the largest contributor to foreign words in English.  In fact, it makes up the base of more than 50% of our language.  And learning French not only gives you a better understanding of half the words you use every day, it also teaches you new ones.

The other side to this is that many of the words you encounter when you’re learning French will already be familiar to you because you recognize their English form.  That makes it an easier language to learn.  And as one of the Romance languages, it can also help you if you want to go on and learn or improve in Spanish, Italian or Portuguese.

Because everybody else does!

To us Americans, France can seem like a small place.  But it’s not the only country in the world that speaks French.  In fact, French is spoken over 5 continents.  It’s a first language in more than 20 countries and to nearly 80 million people.  And 55 countries and nearly 200 million people use it as a second language.  In terms of the world’s most common native languages it only just falls outside the top 10.

And beyond the people who speak it are the millions who learn it.  In fact, apart from English it’s the most commonly learnt foreign language in the world.  And in the US it’s second only to Spanish.  All of which means even if you’re not travelling in France, it’s likely that you’re going to come across people who speak French.

So whether you’re a culture vulture, a lover of food and wine, a business high-flyer or someone who just likes to learn, French is the language of choice.

This is a  guest post by Sarah, a blogger for Pimsleur Approach who provides language learning programs such as Pimsleur French and Pimsleur German. Image by kevindooley