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Why Learn French

Proficiency in French opens many doors to students throughout their academic and professional careers. France and the United States have long shared strong ties. These historical bonds have proven robust over the years and continue to unite both countries in the face of major global challenges. 9 million Americans claim French ancestry and French is currently spoken by 1.3 million people at home in the United States. French is also the second most commonly taught language in American schools after Spanish with over 1.2 million students.

Video: How far will you go with French?

The Language of Trading Partners

As the fifth global economic power, France shares a close business partnership with the United States: 2,800 French companies in the U.S. earn a combined 1.7 billion U.S. dollars annually in varied sectors such as technology, medicine, banking, defense, publishing and tourism. Outside of the European Union, the United States is the top consumer of products from France and the second supplier of products to France (after China).

Neighboring Canada has 9.2 million francophones, 6 million of whom live in Quebec. In fact, French-speaking Canada is the primary consumer of U.S. exports, far ahead of China. Through trade agreements such as NAFTA, more products are being marketed in Canada and companies need French-speaking employees who also have an understanding of cross-border cultural practices.

Geneva, Switzerland

The Language of International Relations

French is one of the six official languages of the United Nations and, alongside English, one of the two working languages of the UN in New York and Geneva. Students interested in a career in journalism, diplomacy and international relations will present a linguistic advantage by speaking French.

The Francophone World

From Paris to Montreal, from Port-au-Prince to Dakar, French is truly an international language in the 21st century. French is the official language of 32 nations and is widely spoken in over 55 countries, across five continents. That translates to 220 million people around the world.

In Africa, French-speaking countries cover an area larger than the United States. For young Americans eager to contribute to the economic development of Africa or to support humanitarian efforts, by working in NGOs, French will be a necessary tool in these rapidly changing nations.

Investment Partners

French businesses have a notable presence in the United States, with over 3,600 affiliates and over 560,000 employees. In return, the United States is the top foreign investor in France, with a foreign direct investment stock of nearly 115 billion euros at the end of 2014. Over 2,700 American businesses operate in France and employ nearly 440,000 persons, making the United States the top foreign employer in France ahead of Germany.

Adapted from Cultural Services of the French Embassy

Eiffel Tower
Paris, France

Scholarships and Grants

Alliance Française de Philadelphie Scholarships

  • Marie-Louise Vermeiren Jackson Scholarship: Available to teachers, young professionals, and university students, this $3,000 scholarship enables recipients to build French proficiency by attending an accredited summer program or applying to the TAPIF program. Preference given to PA-NJ-DE residents.
  • Pierre C. Fraley Scholarship: This scholarship provides financial support for a summer program, internship, or independent project to be conducted in France, with preference given to students associated with the PA-NJ-DE area.

American Society of the French Academic Palms (ASFAP) Scholarships (+ high school)

Each year, ASFAP offers two scholarships to support high-school and college students’ summer language study in a French-speaking country.

Annette Kade Scholarships

Provided by study abroad membership organization ISEP, the Scholarship helps to fund study abroad programs in French or German for undergraduates at member universities.

Campus France Grant Search Engine

Organized by Campus France, a French national agency for higher-ed and international students, the database allows applicants to search for grants based on personal criteria.

French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development Scholarships

The Ministry, as well as other French government and private agencies listed on their site, offers a wide variety of scholarships to encourage international students to study abroad in France.

Gilman for France Scholarship

A partnership between the French Embassy and the Gilman Scholarship Program of the U.S. State Department, this award helps low-income undergraduate students to pursue academic programs or credit-bearing internships by offering up to $5,000 to support their mobility to France.

Killam Fellowships Program

Run by Fulbright Canada, the Fellowship allows U.S. and Canadian undergraduates at participating universities to spend a semester or full academic year as an exchange student in the other country.

Pi Delta Phi Scholarships

The National French Honor Society offers several full scholarships for summer-session language study to members of active chapters.

Walter Jensen Scholarship for Study Abroad

The American Association of Teachers of French awards one annual scholarship to help fund a study abroad experience in a Francophone country for a future teacher of French.

Looking for a French Program?

While initially developed to report language enrollment figures, the MLA database provides a comprehensive listing of postsecondary language programs, allowing you to refine your results by language, geographic area, and/or type of institution. The data is based on MLA’s 2013 survey.

To Get Started:

  1. Select your language(s), up to eight
  2. Narrow your search, as desired, and click “search now”
  3. Expand your findings to reveal specific schools offering programs in your language by clicking on the small triangles on your results page