Bonjour, this is 2050!
There is definitely something about the French soft accent and charming attitude that drives us crazy. Who would not fall for the language of Molière? For the smooth lifestyle of aristocrats? And for the “savoir-faire” of wine connoisseurs?
But should we just learn French for the sake of beauty? Many people think that speaking "français" is a fashion statement rather than a useful tool. They believe it could slowly fade away. Fact is, they could be completely wrong.
French is not in decline, and certainly not dying. Contrary to popular belief, a recent study has proven that Francophones have a very promising future, even more than English, Mandarin, Hindi or Arabic speakers. Unfortunately the projections are not the result of a sudden urge for romanticism, it is about a massive shift in demographics. According to Natixis, an investment bank, global French speakers could bump from 3% to 8% in the next few decades, becoming the most spoken language by 2050.
If you’re not yet convinced that flirting through life with the language of love is going to get you all the success you wish for, here are some other arguments:
C’EST POSSIBLE? MILLIONS OF NEW FRENCH SPEAKERS
Ever since English became the lingua franca, the French tongue appears to be on the shadow of its motherland, Europe. But let’s not forget that French is spoken in 32 different countries, many of which are currently recognized as the fastest-growing economies of the world. Particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa, the increasingly high fertility rates and average spending of former French colonies who have been under the radar (such as Mali, Chad, Guinea and Democratic Republic of Congo) could lead to an impressive increase of Francophones from 220 to 750 million in the next 30 years.
Simultaneously, the global popularity that Chinese and English speakers used to enjoy might be taking an unexpected downturn. Projections show a demographic slowdown from 8% to 3 % in the Anglosphere and from 10% to 8% for Mandarin speakers.
C’EST SÉRIEUX? FRENCH EDUCATION DRIVES SUCCESS
As we embrace globalization, we must learn to respect diversity so that we can stay on top of the game. Adopting widely-spoken languages is crucial to negotiate and communicate, particularly in study fields where we are exposed to multiculturalism. French, for example, is not only strong in number of speakers, but also in its educational presence. It has been found to be the second most studied language in the world, the second working language in most organizations and the third language of the Internet.
Therefrom, Alexandre Wolff (from the Observatory of French Language) explained that “people who study in multilingual environments, such as Switzerland, have considerable economic advantages worldwide. And these advantages were particularly strong when it came to French.” The good news is that the famous Bachelor program of EHL is offered both in English and in French.
C’EST NÉCESSAIRE? FRENCH ROLE IN INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
It is true that there is a predominance of English in many international organizations where French used to be the working language. Likewise, many Anglicisms are invading French more than ever. But that is not a problem, experts have pointed that the future is multilingual. The more languages the more interesting the discussions can get.
Despite French losing some power to English, it stands firm as one of the most spoken languages for universal dialogue. It has been the official language for many Olympic Games, it is one of the six official languages of the UN, and it is among the three dominant languages in the European Union. Furthermore, the recent Brexit vote in the UK has raised some questions about the legality to keep English as an official language in the EU. Specially knowing that all political centers of the EU are located in French-speaking regions.
After all, the coexistence of languages and their deformation cannot promise accurate predictions of the future lingua franca. But one thing is sure: French should not be considered a low priority. Even if we are not passionate about baguettes, poetry or French-kissing, it clearly has a lot more to offer.
Author: Ana Sofía Acuña - EHL Bachelor Student
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