French is a great World language to learn
There are all kinds of reasons to learn a World language in general, and French in particular.
Why learn French?
If you are a native English speaker, one of the best reasons to learn French is to help you understand your own language. Although English is a Germanic language, French has had an enormous impact on it - learn more. In fact, French is the largest donor of World words in English. Unless your English vocabulary is much higher than average, learning French will greatly increase the number of English words you know.
French is spoken as a native language in more than two dozen countries on five continents - learn more. Depending on your sources, French is either the 11th (2) or the 13th (3) most common native language in the world, with 72-79 million native speakers and another 190 million secondary speakers (3).
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French is the second most commonly taught second language in the world (after English), making it a real possibility that speaking French will come in handy practically anywhere you travel.
French in business
In 2003, the United States was France's leading investor, accounting for 25% of the new jobs created in France from World investment. There are 2,400 US companies in France generating 240,000 jobs. (4) American companies with offices in France include IBM, Microsoft, Mattel, Dow Chemical, SaraLee, Ford, Coca-Cola, AT&T, Motorola, Johnson & Johnson, Ford, and Hewlett Packard.
France is the second leading investor in the United States: more than 3,000 French companies have subsidiaries in the US and generate some 700,000 jobs, including Mack Trucks, Zenith, RCA-Thomson, Bic, and Dannon.
French in the United States
French is the 3rd most frequently spoken non-English language in US homes (5) and the second most commonly taught World language in the United States (after Spanish). (6)
French in the world
French is an official working language in dozens of international organizations, including the United Nations, International Olympic Committee, and International Red Cross.
French is the lingua franca of culture, including art, cuisine, dance, and fashion. France has won more Nobel Prizes for literature than any other country in the world and is one of the top producers of international films.
French is the second most frequently used language on the internet.
French is ranked the 2nd most influential language in the world. (3)
Oh, and one other thing - Spanish is not easier than French! ;-)
2 Summer Institute for Linguistics Ethnologue Survey, 1999
3 Weber, George. "The World’s 10 Most Influential Languages," Language Today, Vol. 2, Dec 1997
4 "Franco-American Business Ties Rock Solid," News from France vol 04.06, May 19, 2004
5 United States Census, [a target="_blank" href="http://www.census.gov/prod/2003pubs/c2kbr-29.pdf]Ten Languages Most Frequently Spoken at Home Other than English and Spanish: 2000[/link], figure 3
6 Rhodes, N. C., & Branaman, L. E. "World language instruction in the United States: A national survey of elementary and secondary schools." Center for Applied Linguistics and Delta Systems, 1999