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Why Study French?

Some people choose French because it is spoken in so many countries. Others enjoy exploring the rich literary, historical and cultural traditions of the French-speaking world. Some just fall in love. If you already chose French, you know your reasons. Here are a few practical reasons to study French you may not know.

  • French is the language of the future.
  • French is the second most useful language in the world for business.
  • Studying French makes you smarter.
  • French is one of the top ten majors most likely to lead to less unemployment and higher earnings.
  • Studying in a French-speaking region makes you more creative.

Don't believe unsubstantiated claims? Read on for the evidence...

  • Forbes reports that French is the language of the future, according to a study by Natixis investment bank projecting French will be the "most-spoken language in the world" by 2050. Read the article and think about the study's methodology, to see if you agree with the bank's analysis. Read article
  • ABC News reports that according to Bloomberg Rankings, French is the second most useful language in the world for business. Read article
  • Inside Higher Ed reports that French majors made far larger gains during college than students in other majors, in their writing, analytical, and critical thinking skills, as measured by the CLA (Collegiate Learning Assessment). Read article / Read analysis for possible explanations
  • Newsweek reports a French major as one of the top ten most useful majors "according to science." "Useful, for our purposes, is defined by majors most likely to lead to less unemployment and higher earnings, and which are in industries projected to grow in the next decade according to research from Georgetown University and data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics." Read article.
  • Now more than ever, French speakers are in hot demand across all Peace Corps assignment sectors (Environment, Agriculture, Health, Business, Education, and Community/Youth Development), where French is considered a "scarce skill." Email with questions, and check out
  • According to the US Census Bureau, French is the third most spoken language in the US other than English. See statistics
  • Applicants for assistant professorships in French departments at colleges and universities regularly test the applicants' French language skills. If they are not good enough at speaking the language, they are not considered for the position. Read article
  • NPR's Steve Henn highlights "Utah's secret weapon" for job creation: "Utah happens to have the highest percentage of foreign-language speakers in the country. It's the state's secret economic weapon.Every year, thousands of Mormon missionaries come back to Utah after spending two years abroad, learning a foreign language, foreign customs and intricacies of a foreign culture." Listen to story
  • Robert Lane Greene, a business correspondent for The Economist, explains why he thinks French (not Mandarin) is the most useful language to learn for business. Read article
  • Bilingualism makes you smarter, says new research reported in the New York Times. Read article.
  • Learn French and protect your brain! Bilingualism protects the brain from age-related decline, reports the BBC, referencing a study published in the Annals of Neurology. Read article.
  • There is an association between living abroad and creativity, say William Maddux, an assistant professor of organizational behavior at INSEAD and Adam Galinsky, the Morris and Alice Kaplan Professor of Ethics and Decision in Management at the Kellogg School The longer the time spent abroad, the higher the scores on creativity tests, their study found. Read article.
  • Why do foreign language majors make such gains in critical thinking skills, compared to other majors? In attempting to explain this, scholars at Kalamazoo College suggest that "second language learning might enhance competency in the native language as well as critical thinking and problem-solving skills [...because of] four attributes—metalinguistic awareness, critical reading, critical thinking and problem solving, and cross-cultural literacy—that receive explicit and regular attention in language courses and that may contribute to better performance on tasks like the CLA (Collegiate Learning Assessment)." Read article.