The Most Practical Foreign Language

Richard Shryock
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
(Virginia Tech)

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The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Language 2008 Survey indicates that more students are interested in studying French than any other foreign language in the United States.

The most recent survey by the Modern Languages Association (2009) shows that French enrollments in the United States are on the rise and are now at the highest level in over 20 years.

While any language will be useful for some jobs or for some regions, French is the only foreign language that can be useful throughout the world as well as in the United States. French as a foreign language is the second most frequently taught language in the world after English. The International Organization of Francophonie has 56 member states and governments. Of these, 28 countries have French as an official language. French is the only language other than English spoken on five continents. French and English are the only two global languages.

When deciding on a foreign language for work or school, consider that French is the language that will give you the most choices later on in your studies or your career.

French, along with English, is the official working language of

French is the dominant working language at

One example of the importance of French can be seen in a recent listing of international jobs (12/1/09) distributed by the US State Department: 92 required or preferred French, 36 Spanish, 11 a UN language (Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish), 7 Arabic, 5 Russian, 1 Japanese, 1 Hindi, 1 German, and 1 Chinese.

Of the various types of professional positions for which international organizations recruit, four required French, two Spanish, and one Arabic, according to the fact sheet released by the Bureau of International Organization Affairs of the U.S. Department of State (October 2011).

The Economics of French and France

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