Why Learn French?

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Why Learn French? 2017-05-29T21:09:22-04:00

Learning a second language

Watch Advantage for Life, a video describing the advantages of learning a second language produced by the Teaching and Learning Centre at the University of Calgary.

Read Second language learning benefits students and society on the Alberta Teachers’ Association website.

The learning of a second language is in itself an excellent pursuit, not least because it develops an appreciation of the act of communicating with others, the subtleties that must be expressed in words, the importance of listening. – Dr. André Obadia of Simon Fraser University1

Learning a language is like giving a gold deposit to your children, but without risk, because while gold may decrease in value, knowledge will not. Gold can be stolen, but knowledge always grows. – Dr. Roseann Runte, President of Victoria University, Toronto2

In business, having a second language is like having a second soul. A real asset for Canada has proven to be the ability of so many of its people to empathize with people of other lands through language. The demands of a globally competitive business environment are such that a modern education cannot be complete without significant language training. – Randall Litchfield of Canadian Business Magazine3

It’s more than conjugating verbs and learning vocabulary. It enables you to share and compare ideas with people you never otherwise would have known. – Wai-ling Ho Ching, Coquitlam, B.C.4

Knowing a second language:

  • increases your child’s personal pleasures such as the enjoyment of literature, art, music, theatre, travel, and personal relationships

  • increases your child’s understanding of and respect for other peoples and other cultures

  • gives your child access to a larger pool of information and to more educational and career opportunities

Learning a second language:

  • develops your child’s listening and learning skills as well as self-discipline

  • increases cognitive abilities, creating a more flexible thinker

  • enhances his knowledge of and his ability to communicate in his first language

  • makes learning a third or fourth language much easier

Life-long use of two languages:

  • reduces the normal effects of aging on some brain functions

  • has been shown to significantly delay the onset of symptoms of dementia

 

Learning French

Watch I Want to Become Bilingual Because…, featuring students answering this question.

Watch Proud of Two Languages, showcasing young Canadians using French as a second language.

The logical second language for Canadians:

French is the national second language for many Canadians because it is so widely used and accessible throughout the country. It is the mother tongue of one Canadian in four. With French we have the advantage of texts, references and library books prepared for the Francophone market in this country; large numbers of French-speaking teachers; access to role models and activities in Francophone communities as well as access to the French media; and sufficient interest in the language to support viable programs throughout the country.

A world language:

Estimates of the number of French speakers around the world range from 100,000,000 to 250,000,000.

La Francophonie is a network of 75 states and government, of which 32 have French as an official language.

French and English are the languages of world diplomacy. French is an official working language of the United Nations, the International Red Cross, the International Olympic Committee, the European Economic Community, and the International Labour Bureau.

French is the second most frequently known by Europeans in addition to their mother tongue. Nearly 1/5 of non-Francophone Europeans say they know French.

French is the second most frequently taught language in the world. It is the second most prevalent language on the internet.

Knowing French:

  • helps your child to understand more about himself, his country, and his fellow Canadians

  • gives your child a competitive edge in the job market anywhere in Canada and in many other countries

Knowing both languages

[English and French] means twice as much of everything, just like a two for one deal! … The two for one deal means you can have twice as many friends, twice as many job opportunities, and twice as many experiences. And that all adds up to more fun for me! – Heather Szpecht, 10-year-old Calgary student5

Throughout the past five years, French has come in handy for me at the most surprising times. I feel a thrill whenever I can conquer a situation due to this and I feel proud to come from a country that recognizes it as an official language. I want to encourage these programs to continue so that we can continue to ignore international language boundaries. – Sheena Tieffel, Merrit, B.C.6

1 “Enseignment des langues: le Canada jou un rôle de chef de file.” La Presse, September 20, 1996 (page B3) (translation from French).

2 “French Immersion: So Much More Than a Language.” Address to the French Immersion in Alberta: Building the Future: Leading the Way” 2000 conference.

3 Commentary to Canadian Parents for French in 1992 and quoted in CPF’s “Learning French Makes a world of Difference” public information campaign.

4 “Discovering Canadian Identity on the Beaches of Normandy.” CPF National News 67, winter 1995 (page 5).

5 From her first prize entry in the 1993 “Write it up!/À vos crayons” contest.

6 “Making French Connections on an Exchange in India.” CPF National News 67, winter 1995 (page 5).