LEARNING a new language is an asset, and I feel that one of the most useful languages to learn is French.
Statistics show that more than 185 million people in the world speak French as their mother tongue; another 82.5 million learn French as a second language with Alliance Française while 13.4 million people study the language on their own.
French is widely spoken. It is used in organisations such as the United Nations, Unesco, European Community, 31-Member Council of Europe, International Olympics Committee, International Monetary Fund, International Red Cross and Organisation of the Islamic Conference.
The French language played an important role in the United States in the 18th century. In humanities, social sciences and literature, many important writings come from France. In tertiary education institutions, French is also the most commonly used language after English.
There are a lot of benefits to be gained from knowing French, both in terms of further studies and for career development. Knowledge of French opens up possibilities for work in international business agencies, tourism and hospitality industries, the diplomatic service, French research institutes, etc.
French is spoken in Canada, North Africa and Europe. Countries such as Belgium, Switzerland, Luxembourg and Monaco use French as their official language. In Asia, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam are French-speaking countries. French-speaking countries are called Francophonie and a special organisation has been established specially for the francophone community called the Francophone Organisation.
The French organise cultural activities such as Fete de la Musique (Festival of Music) on June 21 every year. Other events like the French Arts Festival, La Semaine de la Francophonie (Francophone Week) are also held in Malaysia to promote French.
French words like bonjour, au revoir, chic, a la carte, cul-de-sac, and repondez s’il vous plait have been used so often that they are common in English.
French isn’t difficult to learn. The word structure and sentence construction are similar to those of English. However, the pronunciation system is significantly different as it involves much rolling of the tongue.
There are many good books to help beginners. Travel phrase books are recommended as these are bilingual and good for comparing words and sentence structures in both French and English.
For those who prefer to learn the language through a tutor, Alliance Française in Kuala Lumpur or Penang is the best place to learn the language as that is the official French language centre.
So, if one would like to learn a foreign language, why not consider French? Alors, c’est la votre décision maintenant! Parlez vous Français? (So, the decision is now yours. Do you speak French?)