Why learn French?
If you're looking to expand your horizons, then learning a foreign language is a great way to do so. But with 6,909 distinct languages spoken around the world, which language should you choose? French is certainly a popular choice; the thought of spending time in romantic Paris or the exclusive French Riviera and being able to speak the language is certainly appealing. But there are many other great reasons for choosing to speak French.
A world language
France has long played a leading role on the world stage, resulting in the French language's global status. Besides the spread of the language via the the French colonial empire, it was the preferred language of nobility across Europe for centuries – from medieval English kings to Russian czars. Today, an estimated 330 million people on five continents speak the language.
If you're going to pick any language, then it certainly makes sense to opt for one that is useful all around the world.
A business language
French is spoken in France, Belgium, Switzerland and throughout much of Africa so it's a good choice for those looking to make contacts overseas. This can be particularly useful for business networking, given that it is the first language in many of the emerging nations which are expected to be economic powerhouses of the future. French is also one of the 3 languages used to conduct all internal European Commission business.
Improving travel experiences
Learning to speak French will massively improve your travel experiences, even when simply for pleasure. There is nothing quite like visiting a traditional boulangerie in the morning and being able to have a conversation with the locals while you wait to collect your croissants. When you speak the local language, you aren't limited in the kinds of interactions you can have. Stepping off the tourist track and becoming immersed in the culture completely transforms your experience in another country.
Although it's certainly true that many French speakers can also speak English, English proficiency in France is actually lower than in the rest of Europe. If you arrive in France expecting to get by in English, you'll be disappointed when most people just speak French to you anyway. But if you want to learn, it's the perfect opportunity to practice speaking their language.
Having a conversation in another language is not only thrilling; you will also impress the locals and earn a degree of respect. This is certainly true in France, where even trying to speak the language immediately puts you in good standing.
Helping with other languages
Those who speak French often find that it's easier to learn other languages, especially other Romance languages like Spanish, Portuguese and Italian. It's even estimated that 30% of English words come directly from French.
What all of this means is that learning to speak French can boost your broader language skills. It can also give you an insight into the way in which English words have come to be used.
Training your brain
Numerous studies have proven that speaking a second language improves memory, multi-tasking skills and decision making. It's also been shown to keep your brain more resilient in old age. Understanding more languages means having more connections in your brain; more connections mean a faster, stronger, better brain. Even if you never leave the United States, learning another language can bolster your mind's overall performance.
Learning with Babbel
If you're interested in learning a new language, then visiting Babbel online is a great way to get started. A subscription is inexpensive and the courses are intuitive, interactive and fun. Try your first lesson for free!