Lead With French
Why Learn French
Proficiency in French opens many doors to students throughout their academic and professional careers. France and the United States have long shared strong ties. These historical bonds have proven robust over the years and continue to unite both countries in the face of major global challenges. 9 million Americans claim French ancestry and French is currently spoken by 1.3 million people at home in the United States. French is also the second most commonly taught language in American schools after Spanish with over 1.2 million students.
The Language of Trading Partners
As the fifth global economic power, France shares a close business partnership with the United States: 2,800 French companies in the U.S. earn a combined 1.7 billion U.S. dollars annually in varied sectors such as technology, medicine, banking, defense, publishing and tourism. Outside of the European Union, the United States is the top consumer of products from France and the second supplier of products to France (after China).
Neighboring Canada has 9.2 million francophones, 6 million of whom live in Quebec. In fact, French-speaking Canada is the primary consumer of U.S. exports, far ahead of China. Through trade agreements such as NAFTA, more products are being marketed in Canada and companies need French-speaking employees who also have an understanding of cross-border cultural practices.
The Language of International Relations
French is one of the six official languages of the United Nations and, alongside English, one of the two working languages of the UN in New York and Geneva. Students interested in a career in journalism, diplomacy and international relations will present a linguistic advantage by speaking French.
The Francophone World
From Paris to Montreal, from Port-au-Prince to Dakar, French is truly an international language in the 21st century. French is the official language of 32 nations and is widely spoken in over 55 countries, across five continents. That translates to 220 million people around the world.
In Africa, French-speaking countries cover an area larger than the United States. For young Americans eager to contribute to the economic development of Africa or to support humanitarian efforts, by working in NGOs, French will be a necessary tool in these rapidly changing nations.
French businesses have a notable presence in the United States, with over 3,600 affiliates and over 560,000 employees. In return, the United States is the top foreign investor in France, with a foreign direct investment stock of nearly 115 billion euros at the end of 2014. Over 2,700 American businesses operate in France and employ nearly 440,000 persons, making the United States the top foreign employer in France ahead of Germany.
Adapted from Cultural Services of the French Embassy
How Will You Lead with French?
Scholarships and Grants
Each year, ASFAP offers two scholarships to support high-school and college students’ summer language study in a French-speaking country.
Provided by study abroad membership organization ISEP, the Scholarship helps to fund study abroad programs in French or German for undergraduates at member universities.
Organized by Campus France, a French national agency for higher-ed and international students, the database allows applicants to search for grants based on personal criteria.
The Scholarship offers financial support to be applied toward travel and related expenses for undergraduate study abroad at a French higher-ed institution. Participating Generation Study Abroad universities will nominate students; individuals cannot apply directly for this award.
The Ministry, as well as other French government and private agencies listed on their site, offers a wide variety of scholarships to encourage international students to study abroad in France.
Run by Fulbright Canada, the Fellowship allows U.S. and Canadian undergraduates at participating universities to spend a semester or full academic year as an exchange student in the other country.
The National French Honor Society offers several full scholarships for summer-session language study to members of active chapters.
Awarded by the Alliance Française de Philadelphie, the scholarship provides financial support for a summer program, internship, or independent project to be conducted in France, with preference given to students associated with the PA-NJ-DE area.
The American Association of Teachers of French awards one annual scholarship to help fund a study abroad experience in a Francophone country for a future teacher of French.
Looking for a French college program? While initially developed to report language enrollment figures, the MLA database provides a comprehensive listing of postsecondary language programs, allowing you to refine your results by language, geographic area, and/or type of institution. The data is based on MLA’s most recent survey of 2013.
To Get Started:
- Select your language(s), up to eight
- Narrow your search, as desired, and click “search now”
- Expand your findings to reveal specific schools offering programs in your language by clicking on the small triangles on your results page
Read how these students used French skills during their study abroad experiences.
Iowa State University student Samantha blogged her experience studying French and business just outside of Paris.
Elisabeth began her blog when studying abroad in France as an undergraduate; she now works (and writes from) Belgium!
Hannah lived with a host family while studying abroad for five months in Paris.
Lehigh University student Matthew blogged weekly during his study abroad in Geneva, Switzerland.
In Association with Embassy of France Cultural Services