Francophonie today: do you know how much it impacts your life?

As we move towards an increasingly globalized future, French remains an essential language for diplomacy, education, and business. It is a tool for international communication and a symbol of cultural diversity, cooperation, and economic development

By Marcel Salim

With a rich cultural heritage and significant global presence, French continues to play an influential role in the world stage. Currently, it is the official or co-official language of more than 30 countries and is spoken in at least 88 nations around the globe, reflecting its importance in international communication.

As the second most taught language worldwide, French has become a vital bridge for education and cultural exchange, transcending borders and uniting people. With over 321 million speakers, according to data from the International Organization of La Francophonie (OIF), it is the fifth most spoken language on the planet and plays an important role in international organizations such as the UN, the European Union, UNESCO, NATO, the Red Cross, and the International Olympic Committee.

“March is the month of Francophonie, a period in which we celebrate how proficiency in the French language can open doors to opportunities in various regions, especially in Europe and Africa, where French is widely spoken,” explains Mexican Juan Torres, Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Undergraduate Studies and head of the French office at Université de Montréal (UdeM). “Alongside English, French is the only language present on all continents, and by 2065, it is expected that the French-speaking population could reach 1 billion people,” he reveals.

France holds significant influence globally in areas such as the formation of human rights, culture, and even commerce: the European country is the most visited in the world, attracting annually over 70 million tourists

In the business realm, French remains the language of diplomacy and commerce, essential for negotiations and international relations. Francophone countries represent about 16% of the world’s GDP and 20% of global merchandise trade, highlighting the language as a medium for economic opportunities and global partnerships.

“French-speaking countries collaborate through various agreements and initiatives aimed at promoting cultural exchange, economic development, and cooperation in areas such as education, trade, and research,” emphasizes Michèle Glémaud, Executive Director of Admissions and Recruitment Service at UdeM. “The OIF and the International Organization of La Francophonie (AUF), for example, serve as platforms for French-speaking countries to engage in cooperation and multilateral dialogue,” Michèle adds.

Québec: France in Canada

Canada is a bilingual country, and French is in the DNA of the province of Québec, along with another 14 Francophone communities in the North American country. The language is spoken by 22% of the Canadian population. From coast to coast, many French immersion schools are present throughout the territory.

Quebec is the largest province in Canada by land area and the second-largest administrative division in the country

Language has been essential not only to preserve Canada’s and Québec’s cultural identity but also to connect us as a society, linking us to the world. Most of our alumni speak French and many other languages, which opens doors to international careers,” emphasizes Torres, who, in turn, learned French at the Alliance Française in Guadalajara (Mexico) and has been teaching at UdeM for 15 years.

Québec plays a significant role in Canada’s economy and research landscape. The province’s social and economic diversity are strengths, allowing for the development of emblematic industries in areas such as artificial intelligence, biopharmaceuticals, health innovations, social justice, multimedia creation, and digital arts.

“The research institutions in Québec are known for their contributions in various fields, including social sciences, health and life sciences, technology, and arts. Additionally, the cultural heritage and local values, influenced by French tradition, contribute to the richness and diversity of Canadian society as a whole,” explains Michèle.

The Université de Montréal promotes Francophonie through academic programs, research initiatives, and cultural activities. The “UdeM Français” office serves as a platform to support the university’s action in designing, strengthening, promoting, and implementing language strategies that contribute to the development of student and faculty communities in promoting academic excellence in French.

Did you know?

  • France, known for its beauty and culture, attracts over 70 million tourists annually, making it the most visited nation in the world. This fact highlights the continued influence of the European country and the French language in global tourism.
  • In Brazil, it is estimated that around 1 million people speak French, with a growing interest in the French language and culture. Institutions such as the Alliance Française and the French Institute offer French courses, promoting the language and strengthening cultural ties between Brazil and Francophone countries.