Why to learn French?

August 6, 2015


It is the second-most widespread language in the world after English: it is an official language in Europe, Africa, North America, South America, Oceania and even Antarctica.

The French culture is rich in literature, art, and gastronomy.

French is the language of diplomacy, commerce and culture.

And... have you HEARD it?!! oh, la la !

August 6, 2015

Apparently actually, according to this list ( ), French is the:

  • 18th most spoken language among native speakers.

  • 11th most spoken when it comes to total speakers.

  • 3rd most spoken of the romance languages.

French really isn't that widely spoken.

I also personally don't like the way the language sounds, but that's just me. I'm really only learning French because there are jobs in my field in Quebec and knowing French will look good on my resume, although French actually isn't even required for those particular jobs (yes, even in Quebec).

August 7, 2015

Ah, statistics, don't you just love them? I got my info from Wikipedia. From context, I don't think they were talking about number of speakers (most commonly spoken language), but languages spoken across a wide number of countries. Here's the excerpt:

French is the second-most widespread language worldwide after English, being an official language in 29 countries... French is the second-most widely spoken mother tongue in the European Union. As a result of French and Belgian colonialism from the 17th and 18th century onward, French was introduced to new territories in the Americas, Africa and Asia.

Edit: I see WrigGeor already said the same thing. Well, now there's a source at least. I find statistics fascinating. You can bend them to your will :)

August 7, 2015

I'm just curious here: what kinds of jobs can you get in Quebec without having to know French? I'm not trying to be nosy and ask you what your field is, I'm just looking for examples. My limited experience in Quebec led me to believe that you can't get a job flipping burgers in the province without at least some French knowledge, so I'd be curious to learn from someone who lives a lot closer than I do. I'm going to have to move there eventually (hence my profile pic), and knowing what jobs require no French will help my Spanish-studying, Spanish-addicted, nothing-but-Spanish daughter immensely.

Thanks in advance for any answer.

August 8, 2015

Engineering. I know a few people who don't speak French who currently work in Quebec and speak only English while working. I also had one of my francophone engineering professors tell me that French isn't necessary, it's at best a "nice to have" thing on resume.

August 8, 2015

Thanks, much appreciated.

August 9, 2015

French is, actually, the second-most /widely/ spoken language. He wasn't referring to the total number of speakers (native or otherwise), simply the number of countries of which French is a national language.

August 7, 2015

That hardly seems like a good metric for measuring how popular the language is. After all, French is an official language in Canada even though only a small fraction of people here can even speak it. If you're in Western Canada, for example, you can easily live your entire life without encountering so much as a word of French outside of product packages.

August 7, 2015

I think the metric is reasonable. Most countries where French is official, it is spoken widely.

Canada is fairly unique in that it is vast and mostly empty with a few isolated population centers. Most of these speak English, but Montreal is French speaking and it is the second largest metropolitan area. 22% of the Canadian population speaks French as a first language and 30% speak it well. This doesn't seem like small fraction of the population. However, Quebec is only 13% of the surface area of Canada, so the case could be made that it's not spoken widely geographically.

August 14, 2015

I consider it a very noble and beautiful language :) Furthermore, it's widespread (Canada, France, half of Africa and French Polynesia speak it), it's used in business, and you're counted as a great guy if you know French xD So yeah, it is worth learning :)

August 6, 2015

This was a reply I gave to someone else who was trying to decide what languages to learn. I apologise for the length but I hope it helps.

Reasons to learn French

French is one of the romance languages, so called because of their connection to Rome but also now carrying the connotations of love and literature. Indeed, French is often referred to as the language of love. However, the original romances were in fact novels and were the first fiction writings in book form, rather than plays. The most well known of these original romances were French, in fact the very British legends of King Arthur and the knights of the round table, first became popular with the romances of Chrétien de Troyes, who, was the "inventor" of Sir Lancelot. He wrote several books and prose poems which formed the basis for the later Le Morte d'Arthur by Thomas Mallory thus bringing the legends full circle from the celtic origins, via France back to Britain.

The idea of mediaeval chivalry also originated with the knights and troubadours of France, again this arose from the traditional celtic bards of Britain, Ireland and the related celtic country of Brittany, which although not part of "France" proper at that point did later become subsumed into it. The link therefore between not only the French and English language but also between French and the Celtic languages is also strong.

Many of the great historical figures of the past were French, including figures such as Charlemagne and Roland, about both of who yet more romances and songs were written.

The links between England and France are particularly strong and were in fact the cause of many power struggles over the centuries before France finally gained the upper hand on the mainland. Originally, France was a small area around Paris with it's centre at the Ile de France on the Seine. the remainder of what is now modern day France was a series of nation states ruled over by various Dukes and Barons. These were autonomous regions but the heads of the states were under suzerainty to other more powerful leaders. This system of vassal states swearing fealty to the suzerain or, overlord state. There was therefore a pyramid of interlinked states interdependent but also independent of one another. In much the same way that the individual States of America owe allegiance to the Federal United States.

England was an independent nation ruled over by the Anglo-Saxons at the time William the conqueror arrived there in 1066. The Celtic nations, were still largely independent at this point. The predominant language was therefore a combination of celtic, latin and germanic roots, with the Anglo-Saxon element predominating. William the conqueror was of course Duke of Normandy , which in it's turn derived it's name from the Normen or, Norsemen who had conquered that part of the French mainland. Thus, Norman French, a combination of French and Norse roots arrived in the South of England. (The North of England already had Norse and Danish influences in the language)

This is the point at which the French in the form of the Normans conquered England but as the Dukes of Normandy were also allied to other powerful Dukedoms such as Anjou, they were in fact far more pwerful than the "French" in their small area around Paris. William the conquerors' grandson Henry the 2nd married Eleanor of Aquitaine (ex wife of Louis VII of France) and thus gained her powerful Dukedoms which included not only Aquitaine but also Poitou among others. Thus the Angevin empire was born with the greater part of modern day France belonging to the Plantagenet house of Henry the 2nd.

There was then a series of long running battles between the small kingdom of France and the Angevin Kings of England. The official language by then being entirely Norman French both in the Angevin areas of modern France and also in England were Anglo-Saxon was suppressed. As the centuries progressed the French Kings grew more powerful and the Angevins weaker but nonetheless, despite progressively losing lands in France, probably the most famous English King of all, Richard the Lionheart spoke nothing but French and is thought to have spent barely 6 months in England.

There is therefore a very strong link from Norman French to both modern French and modern English, making it a fascinating language to learn as if one looks carefully the similarities are still visible. The histories of France, England and the Celtic nations are therefore woven together like a gobellin tapestry and are a major part of the heritage of modern Europeans and Americans, in the same way that Italian and German are.

As a result of these long running power struggles, the already beautiful landscape of France from The Alps to the river valleys has been enhanced by the chateaux and castles built originally for defense but now spectacularly impressive against the winding rivers that they border.

Moving forwards in time, France has given the world great philosophers, scientists and mathematicians such as, Descartes (I think, therefore I am) , Foucault whose amazing pendulum can still be seen today in the Paris observatory, where it clearly demonstrates the rotation of the Earth, Pasteur who gave the world pasteurisation and also along with Jenner in England discovered the principles of aquired immunity which resulted in vaccines for diseases such as Cholera, Smallpox and to an extent Rabies.

Then there are the wondeful literary figures such as Molière, Racine and Voltaire, whose "Candide" has become so ingrained in the modern mind that we do not even realise that it has influenced our thoughts. If you never read any other book by a French author, you must read Candide, it is not only a masterful exposition of the way of the world, it is also extremely witty and amusing (it's a slim volume, so not a difficult book to read).

When discussing France and the French it is impossible to ignore the contribution to the arts in general and painting and sculpture in particular, the brooding pensiveness of Rodin's "The Thinker", the brightly lit scenes of cafe culture and the Belle Epoque of Toulouse Lautrec, and the ethereal beauty of a Monet garden scene are all very different but hugely influential.

The music too has been hugely influence with everything from Debussy to Ravel and all points in between.

The later cafe culture the likes of Jean Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir are also proof of the continuing vibrancy of France and it's language, whilst in the areas of fashion, food and wine it is almost unparalleled.

My Perfect French evening would be sitting on the terrace of a French chateau, overlooking a river gorge whilst sipping a good St Emillion, listening to the music of Debussy, eating French regional delicacies in the and discussing art, literature, philosophy and science in the company of French speaking friends and family. ......

The language, culture and history of all the major European languages are therefore an important part of who we are and where we come from as modern Europeans and Americans of European origin. This is not to diminish the value or the contribution made by other cultures, which are equally important, but is looking solely from the perspective of why someone might want to learn Italian, German or French.

Now, do you want to learn French ?

August 7, 2015

Wow, you list some of the greatest thing about French and great reasons to learn it. Somehow you convince me to learn it in someways.

August 8, 2015

Thanks, it's nice to know I've convinced someone :-))

August 8, 2015

[deactivated user]

    Oh wow, this is probably my own vision of a perfect French evening! :)

    August 17, 2015

    Pourquoi pas?

    August 6, 2015

    i want to learn quebecois french because i want to move to canada.

    August 6, 2015

    Because YOU want to. It doesn't really matter why other people want to learn it, your own level of motivation will decide over whether you'll find it useful and fun, and whether you'll stick with it.

    It will allow you to speak with a lot of people worldwide. It is one of the 6 official languages of the UN, 28 countries have French as an official language.

    France has one of the largest economies in the world, and is therefore a major player when it comes to import/export and investing. France is a world leader in medical research, in high energy physics, and in electronics and other technology. France is visited by more than 75 million tourists a year. That means there will be lots of opportunities using French for your job if you happen to go into an field where that matters.

    French literature, film, and art are renowned. France has the world's greatest number of Nobel Prize winners in literature (15) -- ok, so this is a bit controversial because of alleged Nobel eurocentrism, but still.

    It will enhance your understanding of your own language.

    I personally find it exceptionally melodious and elegant, it is the most beautiful language I know (it's not my favourite, I just feel it sounds great).

    August 7, 2015

    First of all it is "Why learn French" - not "why to learn French". You will get used to this, it makes sense. :)

    It is good for business, politics and travel. :)

    August 6, 2015

    Yeah! it's a wonderful language i'll study it after German

    August 6, 2015

    Well, French is considered to be very sophisticated. Many people mock the French culture but many refuse to take the time to learn the language. The culture plays a role in cuisine, art and love making therefore,if you are a college student or a young professional it looks great on your resume. Also, Spanish is starting to be the norm for the global markets such as NYC. I'm learning Spanish for corporate purposes but I think French will definitely give you that "umph" in your professional step.

    August 6, 2015


    August 6, 2015

    French and english are the only thoroughly global languages spoken or learnt on every continent Spanish might have more speakers but 95% of those live in one region and they are hardly economic giants and have severe social problems

    August 7, 2015

    [deactivated user]

      My personal reasons:

      1. Because it's the most beautiful language in the world! <3
      2. For my own pleasure & satisfaction - I've always wanted to learn French, so here am I on Duo.
      3. To understand the French when in France.
      4. Because it's the language of diplomacy.
      5. Because French guys are hot. ;) Just kidding, it's not the reason though French guys are hot indeed. :D
      August 17, 2015

      I'm learning French because I am going to study French Immersion in my Middle School. French is also a nice language.

      August 6, 2015

      French can expand your knowledge of language in words and food!! :) It's beautiful language and it can help you with Spanish as well!! Au Revoir!

      August 6, 2015

      I practice my brain :-)

      August 7, 2015

      Because I live in Quebec and want to be able to understand the majority of those around me. I never really paid attention in French class while growing up (as I lived in an English-speaking province), but now that I'm studying in Quebec I want to learn it in order to get a job here after my studies.

      August 7, 2015

      Parce que Damien Saez parle français :D et je l'aime beaucoup. Une autre raison pourquoi ça, je me sens détendue quand je parle français.

      July 16, 2017
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