Why study French?

Have you ever thought about the French origin of many English words and verbs you use daily like amuse, coupon, dentist, dandelion, mayonnaise, cinema, parachute, debacle, omelette, sabotage or rendezvous?

Across the world, French remains an extremely important language, with approximately 75 million people speaking the language their native tongue and 235 people million speaking French fluently on a daily basis. Including France and its overseas territories, French is the official language of 29 countries, including Monaco, Luxembourg, Haiti, Bénin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo (Democratic Republic of), Congo (Republic of); Côte d'Ivoire, Gabon, Guinea, Mali, Monaco, Niger, Sénégal, Togo. It is one of the official languages in Belgium (3 million) and Switzerland (1.5 million) and is considered the unofficial second language in the North African countries of Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia.

As Canada’s second official language and one of the six official languages of the United Nations, French is spoken worldwide by approximately 300 million people in total. French is the 5th most widely spoken language on the planet and the only one, together with English to be spoken on all five continents. It is the 3rd global business language and the 2nd business language of the European Area. It is the 4th most widely used language on the Web.

Rooted in a complex and rich history, French has evolved over the centuries and is at the centre of the Organisation internationale de la francophonie (OIF). This francophone international organization comprises 88 members states, 32 of which have French as their official language. The community which includes the province of Quebec comprises 1.5 billion people in total and represents over one-third of the UNO’s member states.

The French-speaking zone across the world accounts for 20% of world trade in goods and thus opens up a world of opportunities. In Quebec, thriving industries involved the printing press (Quebecor), cinema, banking (Desjardins), artificial intelligence, gaming, aeronautics, transportation (Bombardier) and entertainment (Cirque du Soleil, Juste pour Rire) require knowledge of the French language. In terms of culture, France’s rich history and prominent place in world affairs have made it such that the French language is intrinsically linked to the world of fashion, literature, art, philosophy, history, human rights, cinema, the culinary arts, wine production, and much, much more.

Did you know for example that France is the second-largest producer of video games in the world after the United States or that Assassin’s Creed franchise and Call of Duty was developed in Montréal?

Learning French, which is also typically reputed to be the language of love, presents opportunities of all sorts and is the 2nd most taught language in the world. It has some 900 million teachers worldwide and is studied by approximately 125 million people (76 million learning in French and 49 learning it as a second language).

French in Alberta and Lethbridge

In Alberta, French was brought to the province by the fur traders and was the first European language spoken here. There are approximately 265 000 native French speakers (2% of the total population) in Alberta and the number of proficient French speakers is on the increase. Enrolments in Core French and French immersion programs are on the rise and demonstrate the importance of learning a second language to understanding others and future job prospects. Check out this cool infographic about the presence of French in Alberta.

In Lethbridge, where the coulees dividing the city are named after the French verb “couler” (to flow), the French language and Francophile community is alive and well. The French section and FLC (French Language Centre) regularly collaborated on events and projects with the city’s division of the ACFA (Association canadienne-francophone de l’Alberta) and the Cité des prairies connected to l’École LaVérendrye, named after the famous explorers and first Europeans to see the Rocky Mountains.

Our Program

We offer Minors and Majors in French and specialist programs, including a combined major (French/Spanish) and (French/Education). These programs which comprise courses in language, literature, culture and linguistics are carefully designed and fit a wide variety of needs, ranging from the informal language learner to the intending language specialist. Students also have the opportunity to pursue their French studies at the MA level. Speak with an Academic Advisor about your options.

In our undergraduate program, we encourage students to spend a semester studying abroad or in Quebec during their French studies. Such an experience not only helps students become more proficient but expands their intercultural competency.

Career Opportunities and Options

Studying French is about more than learning the language; it is about learning analytical skills and understanding various dimensions of the world, its history, and the people that inhabit the planet. Reading, writing, and speaking French represents an invaluable communicative skill, which opens doors in a wide variety of industries and provides students with dynamic career opportunities such as teaching, interpreting, international trade, translation, hospitality and travel industries, sales, providing of services, technical writing, government, foreign affairs, consultation and graduate teaching and research.