Facts About French

Facts about the French Language

  •  France, Luxembourg, Haiti and more than 15 African countries. French is one of the official languages of  Belgium, Switzerland and Canada.
  •  Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Lebanon, Syria, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam.
  •  Over 300 million speak French as a first or second language.
  •  French is a romance language descended from Latin.
  •  French is also the only language, with English, that is taught in every country of the world, with 100 million students and 2 million teachers – 20 % of whom are outside of francophone countries.
  •  Between 6 and 11 million Americans speak French, as does half the population of Algeria, and 15 percent of Israelis.
  •  France is the most visited country in the world with 75 million tourists every year.  French-speaking scientists and technicians invented the hot air balloon, cinema, radial tires, smart cards, HDTV, the snowmobile, the saxophone, Velcro and more.
  •  French is still a working language of the UN, the EU, and dozens of international organizations including the International Red Cross committee, International Labor Organization, Amnesty International, and Doctors without Borders. Francophone countries form an important bloc in the UN, the EU, the African Union, and the Arab League.
  •  The number of French speakers has tripled since 1945 largely since most former French and Belgian colonies kept French as their language of government, education and science after decolonization.
  •  Kinshasa is the world’s second largest French speaking city, after Paris, and before Montreal and Brussels.
  •  The latest edition of the popular comic book Astérix was printed in 7 million copies in French alone and translated into 23 languages.
  • French film production – at 500 films per year – is number two in the world. In Canada, Quebec films often outsell Hollywood films at the box office.
  •  The Agence universitaire de la Francophonie networks 630 French language universities and more than 350 French faculties worldwide, for a total of 120,000 professors and researchers
  •  Many major living French language authors – Milan Kundera, Nancy Houston, Jonathan Littel, Andreï Makhine, Tahar Ben Jeloun, Dany Laferrière, François Cheng – did not speak French as a mother tongue.
  •  In Canada, 300,000 children are enrolled in French immersion programs, and 3 million adults whose mother tongue is not French speak French as a second language.
  •  There are eight million Francophones living in North America, and most are descendents of only 10,000 original French colonists.