The “Francophonie” (French-speaking world) represents all the people who speak French. French is a language that is spoken in 5 continents in the world. It is also a language that is very present on the internet, in studies and at work. In short, French is doing well comparing to the English domination.
What is the “Francophonie”?
The “Francophonie” also called French-speaking world or French-speaking space is defined by all the people and institutions that use French as a language of first socialization. French is also a language of use, as an administrative language, as a language of instruction or as a chosen language.
The “Francophonie” can refer to all French-speaking countries and also all countries or regions who are members of the “Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie” – OIF (French-speaking international organization), represented by the “Association Internationale des Régions Francophones” AIRF (International association of French-speaking regions). These countries in which French is mainly or partially spoken but where French is not necessarily the official langue at neither regional nor national level.
The origins of the Francophonie
The International Organization of the Francophonie” (OIF) is an organization of international public law, created in 1970, counting 88 States or governments in 2018. Its mission is to promote French language and linguistic and cultural diversity (it will take part of the Cannes Film Festival in 2022), to promote peace, democracy, and Human Rights, to support Education and Research and to develop cooperation. It also represents 16% of the world’s wealth and more or less directly relates to 1.2 billion of people on the planet.
The report of the Observatory of the French language, published in 2018, estimates all 300 million French speakers. They are spread over the 5 continents.
Francophonie is also an institutional instrument: its higher body is the “Francophonie Summit” managed by the Francophonie’s General Secretary, Louise Mushikiwabo, born in Kigali, Rwanda.
The Francophonie’s International Organization (OIF) implements multilateral Francophone cooperation alongside Parliamentary Assembly of Francophonie (APF) and 4 operators : the University Agency for Francophonie (AUF), TV5 MONDE which broadcasts French public television, International Association of Francophone Mayors (AIMF) and Senghor University in Alexandria.
There are 88 member countries of La Francophonie.
What is the French language situation in the world ?
French is doing well
The French language is doing well. Despite the presence of English in all areas, French is everywhere. For sure, the situation of the French language and cutlures is quite good in the world.
French is spoken worldwide. In 2022, there are more than 321 million people who speak French on the planet. At school and university, 93 million students are learning French, which remains a language of the hotel industry, cuisine, arts, fashion, luxury, and tourism.
French language is an instruction language in 36 states’ education systems and governments in the world, either on its own or alongside other languages. The African continent represents 80% of students who study in French in the world.
In about 70 countries, French is one of the official languages. It is also the most widely learned foreign language after English.
French offers a large network of cultural establishments abroad. Every year, 750,000 people learn French all over the world.
French around the world
French is the fifth most widely spoken language in the world, after English, Mandarin, Hindi and Spanish and is the only language, along with English, to be present on all five continents.
255 million French speakers live daily in French in a variety of contexts:
- At home and at school, transmitted by parents and/or learned at school where it is the language of instruction
- Official language (or one of the official languages) that is used for administrative procedures and professional relations.
- Language of communication and culture, broadly used in the media and cultural activities.
Moreover, French is a diplomatic language, both working and an official language of the UN, the European Union, NATO, the International Red Cross, the IOC (International Olympic Committee), etc.
Strasbourg, Brussels and Luxembourg are the 3 cities hosting European institutions.
French is the third language on the internet (after English and German).
Since Brexit, English supremacy in the European Union institutions feels even more unjustified. A lot of people denounce the predominant use of a language that is only official in two member countries (Ireland and Malta) alongside the national languages.
The debate on multilingualism in the EU was also raised again with the CoVid health crisis, which led the European institutions to use video-conferencing tools for the first time.
For the first few weeks, they organized virtual meetings in English only at all levels of expertise, including Council meetings. From May 2020, the European Commission has set up an Interaction platform which allows the use of up to 32 languages.
Finally, since the first half of 2022 the French presidency of the EU is an opportunity to debate new ideas to rebalance the use of official languages.
How important is French in everyday life?
French is an important language, and the Francophone area increases the language’s resources.
The links between mastery of the French language and the opportunities it provides shows the importance of this language on various subjects:
- Getting a job, as part of international mobility, or following a higher education course in a French-speaking region.
- Studying : the Label- France Éducation and the language assistant program in France and abroad. France also uses the expertise of its local teaching teams and its operators. France Éducation International FEI (International French Education), formerly CIEP is the most important one. The goal is to strengthen French language in public or private establishments of diverse national education systems and in French schools abroad. Let’s not forget language schools teaching the language all over the world. “Institut Français” (French Institute) or the “Alliance Française” (French Alliance) are very good examples of these schools. Our school also offers French courses for all levels and all needs.
- Staying informed thanks to TV5 Monde, which exists in most of the world, or the online news.
- Doing research on the Internet. Despite their great diversity, the French-speaking world’s cultural and artistic expressions or contents are not very present and accessible on the Internet. The culture’s diffusion and distribution is now on the internet platform and that shakes up traditional patterns for the supply and demand, especially in favour of the American GAFAM (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft).
- Access to other cultures, to cinema, to music…
How does French impact the world ?
Throughout the world, the French language has not only a linguistic role, but also an economic, political and diplomatic role. That’s why the situation of the French culture and languages is important in the world.
The OIF (International Organization of Francophonie) collaborates with international and regional organizations, specialized agencies of the United Nations system, non-governmental organizations, companies and private foundations to develops its skills, raise funds and strengthen its programs on a daily basis.
The United Nations General Assembly resolution of 24 May 2017 reaffirms the importance of the political and diplomatic partnership as well as the technical cooperation between the OIF and the UN.
France is one of the founding members of the UN, created in 1945. It has a permanent seat on the Security Council, alongside the United States, the United Kingdom, Russia, and China. The country is also present both in the other main UN bodies and in its subsidiary bodies (permanent member of the Conference on Disarmament, for example).
France is the 6th largest contributor to the UN regular budget and to the peacekeeping budget.
The major missions of the Francophonie
Peace, democracy, human rights and freedom of the press are the priorities of the Francophonie’s political action.
The OIF is permanently committed to building and consolidating democracy. That’s why the organization is deploying mediation and political dialogue support actions in its member states and governments. By mobilizing Francophone expertise during elections, justice reforms, security systems or media regulation, the OIF works for the peace.
The OIF relies on the French-speaking institutional networks. These partnerships are build with international organizations, NGOs and civil society actors.
Solidarity is a founding principle of the Francophonie. It guides its cooperation action for sustainable development and gender equality in the development of societies in the South.
The goal being pursued by “La Francophonie” for decades is to create a space of solidarity. This solidarity is based on the principles of humanism, democracy, culture, exchange, and respect for the diversity of cultures and languages. The Francophonie is working hard to keep the situation of the French language on a good position in the world !