Article Why Learn French

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The articles you find listed throughout our website were written by Les Amis De La Giraudière, or in English, The friends of La Giraudiere, also contributions from volunteers and interns who have participated in the different programs at La Giraudiere. We hope you enjoy.

Why learn French is an article written by Reuben Lachmansingh whilst volunteering in France

What is now France was once occupied by Celtic speaking peoples . In 58-56 B.C, Julius Caesar conquered the region and named it Gaul. In time, the Celtic language was replaced by vulgar Latin, the common speech of ancient Romans that belonged to the Indo-European language family.

In the 4th century AD, the Franks invaded the country intermingling the Germanic dialects with the vulgar Latin. In the 5th. century AD , Frankish became the language of the aristocracy, its influence still seen today in words such as blanc, guére, and trop. Interestingly, the origin of the word, francais, comes from the Germanic word, francisc.


In 1539, through an ordinance, French replaced Latin as the official language of the country and from then on there was no turning back. In 1635, Cardinal Richelieux established the Acadèmie francaise to promote and supervise the language. For example, the requirement to leave the plural “s” silent was established.

With the Treaty of Rastatt in 1714, a peace treaty between France and Austria not only put an end to the War of Spanish Succession, but was historic in that French for the first time was used in an international agreement and remained as the language of international diplomacy.

After the Treaty of Paris (1763), great political thinkers and philosophers such as John Locke, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and Voltaire influenced French thought and contributed to the French vocabulary.
In early 1794, a decree in France directed the appointment of French speaking teachers in all school districts where French was not spoken. By 1880, free mandatory education established throughout the country has since resulted in a 99% literacy rate.

In the UK, Norman French was adopted as the language of the country when William, the Duke of Normandy, invaded and conquered Britain in 1066. For the next 400 years, French became the language of its nobility and of most official documents. Henry V ended that when he went to war with France. However, the English language still has several words with French roots.

Now we come to the question of “Why Learn French.” A major language of commerce, it is the second most widely taught language in the world after English. In 2015, according to estimates, there were 77 to 100 million native speakers and 190 secondary speakers of French. It is the first language of France, Quebec, western Suisse, the region of Wallonia in Belgium, Monaco, parts of Canada, and the USA. There are 40% of Fracophones in Europe, 35% in Sub-Sahara Africa, 15% in North Africa and the Middle East, 8% in the Americas, and 1% in Asia.

Considered by many as the language of culture, a French lesson is a journey into the world of fashion, haute cuisine, the arts, architecture, and science. It offers access to the works of great French writers such as Victor Hugo or Marcel Proust in their original texts. It is the language of Descartes, Sartre, Derrida, the Curies, and Pasteur.

Higher education at the Sorbonne, Pierre Marie University, or the Ecole Polytechnique would be a major career asset for anyone. France is the world’s top tourist destination with 79.5 visitors per year. To appreciate the different sights, to order meals at the many restaurants, one needs a command of the language.

For me, my only regret is that I had not availed myself earlier of the many opportunities to learn such a beautiful language. However, it is never too late and with my three weeks’ volunteering with the La Giraudière project in Brossac, I hope to bridge that gap.

This article is written by Reuben Lachmansingh, a published author from Canada, who has taken some time off from his writing to learn French in the picturesque wine-growing region of south west France.

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