French around the world

With nearly 274 million French speakers all over the world, French is a major language. 3% of the world’s population can communicate in French, making it the fifth most widely used language. Added to this are the 125 million people learning French. It might be spoken by fewer people than Hindi or Chinese but the “language of Molière” is still, along with English, the only one in the world to be heard across all five continents.
  • An international language

Europe is home to 47% of the world’s French speakers. Outside France itself, French is spoken in Belgium (60% of the population), Switzerland (48.4% of the population) and Luxembourg. Within the European Union including Switzerland, French is the fourth most widely used mother tongue (60 million speakers), after German (79 million speakers), English (65 million) and Italian (63 million).

Africa is the continent where French is most widely spoken.
In North Africa French is the majority language: it’s spoken by 64% of Tunisians, 57% of Algerians and 33% of Moroccans. Also in the Arab world Lebanon, with its 1,920,000 French speakers is a key French speaking country.
Sub-Saharan Africa alone had 79 million French speakers in 2014.

Another large group of French speakers can be found in North America. The biggest minority lives in Canada which had 11.5 million French speakers out of a population of 32.3 million, according to 2005 estimates. French speakers in North America are mainly concentrated in Quebec, where they make up over 78% of the population. In the United States nearly 14.5 million people speak French. Not forgetting France’s overseas départements (Guadeloupe, Martinique, French Guiana) and Haiti, where nearly a quarter of the 8.3 million inhabitants speak French.

On the other side of the world in Asia, most French speakers are found in the Indochinese Peninsula, mainly Vietnam with 624,000 French speakers.

  • An institutional language

French is a language of work and of politics as well as a language of culture.
It is one of the two official working languages of the United Nations and the International Olympic Committee, the only universal language of the postal services and the main language of the African Union.

The International Organization of La Francophonie (L’Organisation international de la francophonie, or OIF) brings together countries sharing certain values based on the French language. It has 57 member countries and a further 23 countries with observer status.
Each year on 20 March many cultural events are held around the world to mark International Francophonie Day.

Student testimonials

Shelby (USA)
"Everyone at Eurocentres La Rochelle is very knowledgeable and helpful. George and Valerie are super nice and are willing to help you with anything."
Carol (Brazil)
"The teachers are well prepared, the lessons are very interactive and the students are really nice. I have met people from all over the world. I am having the best time here in Paris and would strongly recommend Eurocentres for anyone who wishes to learn french."
Vaishnavi Kumar (India)
"IFALPES is definitely the best place to learn & appreciate the language and the people."
Harry & Janice (USA)
"We have had several immersion language experiences, and the ILP is by far the best we have encountered. We appreciated the friendly staff, small size of classes, and the flexible modular schedule adaptable to our ongoing outside profes-sional commitments."
Eva (Sweden)
"I’m content with my 2 week stay at Millefeuille and I think that I’ve made good progress."
Juan (Colombia)
"Planète Langues is probably the best place to learn a new language, make friends and have a totally cool experience!"
"My stay in Amboise was excellent, the inhabitants are very friendly and it is a great opportunity to learn the French language in a charming town."
Anastasia ( Russia)
"The lessons were excellent. These French lessons in Paris were really what i was looking for. Hope to come back soon!"
Jenny (Australia)
"My experience at CREA-Langues has been outstanding, not only from the language point of view, but for the opportunity to engage with staff and other students informally. The organisation and attending to detail is simply superb. I have every intention to return. "
Pavel (Russia)
"I've had the best experience at Regency School because the teachers were very professional and i thank them all."