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Why Study French?

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The study of any foreign language may well be determined by one's job or region, either of which may restrict global mobility. After English, French is the most frequently taught foreign language in the world. The International Organization of Francophonie comprises 53 nations of which 32 have French as an official language. (See link below.) French and English are the only two languages spoken on five continents and are the only two global languages. According to the 2000 census, French is one of the languages spoken at home in the United States by 1.9 million people, with concentrations in Louisiana and New England.

  • Together with English, French is the working language of many international organizations, including the UN, NATO, UNESCO, the International Red Cross, the International Olympic Committee, FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association), the Council of Europe, and the European Community
  • French is the dominant working language of international courts of justice and auditors.
  • In a job survey distributed by the US State Department (8/30/05), 135 required or preferred French, 49 Spanish, 25 a UN language (Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish), 6 Arabic, 6 Russian, 2 German, 2 Italian, and Chinese

Economics of the French and of France

  • French is the language of our largest trading partner (Canada). In 2000, the province of Québec alone ranked as the fifth largest trading partner of the United States with over id="mce_marker"04 billion in trade. In that year, trading with Canada surpassed the total of all exports to our southern neighbors. France has the sixth largest economy in the world, following the US, Japan, Germany, China, and England. In 2005, France’s economy was similar in size to that of China and England.
  • France ranks second in the world in agricultural exports.
  • In recent years, the United States has been the largest foreign investor in France, and in 2002, France was the second largest foreign investor in the United States. In 2003, France was the second largest destination of investments in the world. Per capita, France surpasses Japan in the number of exports and, per capita, exports more than twice as much as Americans. Overall, France ranks fourth internationally in exports and leads the world in the production of luxury goods
  • Tourism is a major component of the French economy. The total number of visitors each year surpasses the total population of France.
  • France gives more foreign aid to developing countries than does the US.

Science and Technology

  • France has long been a leader in the development of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. Approximately 90% of the electricity generated comes from nuclear reactors. Excess electricity is exported to immediate European neighbors. France will be the site of the world’s first nuclear fusion reactor (International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor). Finally, France is a world center for research in high energy physics.
  • France ranks fourth internationally in automobile production and third in automobile exports.
  • Seven of the top ten French exports to the United States are industrial or high technological products.
  • In medical research, the AIDS virus was first isolated by French doctors. In genetics, the Human Genome Project is located in Paris.
  • France is the world’s third largest producer of electronics projects and is a European leader in commercial aviation (Aérospatiale, Arianespace, Airbus). Most commercial satellites are launched into space by Ariane rockets.
  • France is a world leader in development of high-speed rail transportation (the TGV holds the world’s speed record). The smart card was invented in France and the Minitel database was a precursor of the internet. In telecommunications, fiber optics and HDTV were invented in France.

France-US Cultural Relations

  • Historically, France has been extremely influential in the development of the United States. The Declaration of Independence reflects radical ideas deriving from Montesquieu, Voltaire, Diderot and Rousseau, writers and philosophes with whom our Founding Fathers were intimately familiar. Thomas Jefferson’s donation of his library to Congress met with much resistance from the more conservative members due to the content of many of the French works which were considered too radical or seditious. Separation of powers embodied in the Constitution derives from the same sources. La Déclaration des droits de l’homme et du citoyen (adopted by the Assemblée Nationale 26 August 1789) is remarkably similar in content to the Bill of Rights proposed to the First Federal Congress 25 September 1789. The ideals of the French Revolution have formed the basis of all subsequent French republics up to the present. Ideologically speaking, the United States and France have a common heritage which have bound the two nations together, although political differences have occasioned momentary separations. (
  • When employers look at prospective employees, they frequently look for applicants whose dossier indicates a course of study and/or experiences which rise above the norm. An applicant who has undertaken the more difficult route to a diploma by mastery of a foreign language rises above the rest. With French, the student has access to the most widely spoken language, after English, and becomes quite familiar with a culture that has significantly influenced our own. Given the strength of the French economy at present and the technological developments currently in place or planned for the future, French is indeed the global language of the future.

Why French at The Citadel?

  • Majors and minors in French may take a wide variety of courses that include culture, literature and civilization, cinema and music.
  • One-on-one advising with our highly dedicated team of French professors.
  • Possible participation in The Citadel's own summer study abroad program in France.
  • Opportunities to study a semester abroad in France.
  • Alumni in French have enjoyed acceptance into such graduate schools as Harvard University and the University of Georgia in addition to exclusive career opportunities for international firms.
  • Students increasingly have seen the value of studying French at The Citadel: in the past three years, the number of French majors and minors has almost doubled.


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