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The Status of French in the World

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French is spoken nowadays in many different countries and many people around the world learn it as a second language. It’s no surprise, after all, French is a very beautiful language; France has a rich and extremely interesting history; Paris is named the cultural capital of Europe; the French culture had, and continues to have, a huge influence on many different nations.

Did you know that the French language has been considered as the language of diplomacy since the 17th century? It is very often used as a language for official international communication between people who don’t speak a common native language. That’s why French is the primary or listed as one of the official languages of the following international organizations: the European Union (EU), the United Nations (UN), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the World Trade Organization (WTO), the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) and many others. All these organizations play a significant role in our economic, diplomatic and cultural lives.

Here are some interesting facts about the French language. You might know some of them, but you are sure to be surprised to know the others.

1) The French language is the 4th most widely spoken mother tongue in the European Union.

2) French is the 6th most widely spoken language in the world by total number of speakers.

3) At the moment there are over 220 million French speakers around the globe.

4) French is ranked the 2nd most taught foreign language in the European Union.

5) French is the official language of 29 countries.

6) French is the only official language in 13 countries: France, Monaco, Mali, Côte d’Ivoire, Republic of the Congo, Benin, Togo, Burkina Faso, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guinea, Gabon, Senegal, and Niger.

7) In the 13th century, French was associated with high society. Many people started to learn it to get a higher social status.

8) French became the most widely-spoken language in Europe by the middle of the 14th century.

9) 3% of the world population are French speakers.

The French language gains popularity among people from different countries. The Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF) predicts that the number of total French speakers around the globe will rise to over 700 million by 2050. This will happen mostly due to an increase in the world’s population.

As a result of population growth, the OIF estimates that the number of French speakers will rise to over 700 million by 2050, 80% of whom will be in Africa. This would take the proportion of French speakers in the world population from 3% to 8%.

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