Why Study French?
French is spoken as a native language in more than two dozen countries on five continents, among the top 12 most common languages in the world, with almost 80 million native speakers and another 190 million secondary speakers. French is the second most commonly taught second language in the world (after English), so speaking French will come in handy just about anywhere you travel.
French is spoken by our largest trading partner (Canada). In Missouri, exports to Canada alone total $4 billion annually, or 30% of the state’s export earnings.
The US government recognizes the limited pool of critical language experts. Both the CIA and FBI now aggressively recruit instructors, agents, analysts, translators, and interpreters that speak French. For the National Security Agency, French remains important because of the many African nations that speak the language. See proof of that here: U.S. Global Competence.
French speakers are very attractive candidates for law school, medical school, and most graduate programs. French teachers are in such demand that the State of Missouri offers student loan forgiveness to teachers of French in the public schools. Read all about careers for French majors HERE.
What if you will never live in a French-speaking country, or do not want to teach or work for the government? French will benefit you even if you never use it (very unlikely though), because going through the process of learning French gives you skills and qualities that are useful and marketable no matter what you do: memorization, analytical reading and writing skills, as well as adaptability, tolerance for difference, and problem-solving skills. Here are illustrations of where French can lead: They all majored in French.
How many people do you know around you who speak French? Not those who took an occasional class, but people who have mastered the French language. “Not too many” is probably the answer. Any student who masters the French language in this country can demonstrate the ability to accomplish something very demanding, and that they can succeed in a foreign and challenging environment. When these graduates apply to US companies seeking a specialist in French language, they will rarely be in competition with native speakers, thus increasing their chances to be hired. French sets you apart and gives you a definitive edge.