French is one of the very few languages spoken all over the world, ranked the sixth most widely spoken language after Mandarin Chinese (over a billion speakers), English, Hindi, Spanish and Arabic. There are currently over 220 million French speakers worldwide, including 72 million so-called partial French speakers .
French is unusual in that it often exists alongside other languages in multilingual contexts. In Europe (excluding France), the largest populations of French speakers are essentially to be found in Belgium (45% of the population), Switzerland (20% of the population) and Luxembourg. French is Europe’s second most widely spoken mother tongue with over 77 million speakers , after Germany (around 100 million) but ahead of English (around 61 million). Demographers forecast that France’s birth rate will make French the most widely spoken mother tongue in Europe, ousting German, by 2025. French is an official language of 29 countries , second only to English in this category.
French is also taught at establishments run by France’s cultural network abroad (Instituts Français and Alliance Française schools), which provide courses for close on a million language students, and in the 481 establishments of the French school network abroad, which provide an education based on the French national curriculum for 310,000 pupils, half of whom are foreign nationals, in 133 countries.
France and the French-speaking countries play an active part in the world economy, accounting for some 20% of world trade in goods.
In today’s increasingly competitive world market, advanced technologies and globalization have made international communication a necessity. French is a vibrant language spoken by over 300 million people all over the world in over 50 countries.
French is also an important and useful language in the United States. French is the 3rd most widely-spoken foreign language in the US (after Spanish and Chinese) and in Ohio (after Spanish and German). French is the only language in the US other than Spanish that is studied by more than one million students. In fact, there are more students who study French in the US than students of German, Latin, Chinese, Japanese, Russian, Greek, Italian, Hebrew, and Arabic combined!