French is spoken around the world and is an official language of 29 countries, including Belgium, France, Switzerland, but also Canada (Quebec), North and West African countries, Lebanon, and parts of South-East Asia.
According to the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs:
Jobs: Speaking French is an advantage on the international job market and will open doors in all French speaking countries. French is also a useful language in some sectors, such as the wine, culture or fashion industry.
French is also used in diplomatic circles and is an official language of the European Union, the United Nations, UNESCO, NATO, the International Olympic Committee, the International Red Cross and international courts.
Finally, students may also seek to gain a professional qualification as a French teacher of translator.
Culture: French is used worldwide for cooking, fashion, theatre, the visual arts, dance and architecture. Knowing French will also give students access to a wide range of works of literature and philosophy.
Travel: Learning French is essential to understand French culture or simply to fully experience the French “art de vivre”. French can also be used in other popular tourist destinations worldwide, and is simply useful when going on a sky or beach holiday.
Higher education: A good command of French is a pre-requisite to be eligible for French government grants for postgraduate courses, or to apply to any degree taught in French.
Other languages: Knowing French is useful when trying to learn other Romance languages such as Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and Romanian, but also English (50% of the English vocabulary is derived from French).
France is a safe and relatively inexpensive destination with a variety of geographic locations to suit all budgets.
For EU students: France is close and well connected by train, air or by car.
For non EU students: For stays under 90 days students require a Shengen visa, unless they figure in the list of exempt countries. For longer stays student visas have become easier to obtain with Campus France.
In the last decade, the French government has been promoting its new “FLE Qualité” label . The label was created to control the quality of centres teaching French as a foreign language, and identifies centres in which customer are assured to receive excellent language training (www.qualitefle.fr).
The IALC-accreditation assesses all areas of school management and student service as well as the quality of the teaching. It is an added guarantee of quality for foreign students (www.ialc.org).
Article written by International Association of Language Centres (IALC), with contributions from Eleri Maitland, Owner of IALC-accredited school French in Normandy ( School profile | www.frenchinnormandy.com).