|Est. L1 speakers:||76,000,000|
|Est. L2 speakers:||153,486,000|
|Est. total speakers:||229,486,000|
Though it has lost a lot of ground to English over the past century or so, French continues to be one of the international languages par excellence, used as an official or co-official language in countless international and supra-national organizations – most importantly the United Nations and the European Union. In diplomatic circles, therefore, knowledge of French is still very much de rigueur.
In addition to the points of pure prestige, speaking French will enable you – at least in theory – to study, work, live, or do business in well over a dozen countries, most importantly France (the world's seventh economy), Belgium, and Québec (Canada).
French, which belongs to the Romance language group of the Indo-European family, is spoken in many countries. The language has two genders (masculine, feminine), a rather elaborate system of verbal tenses, but no cases. Certain pronunciation quirks aside, French is generally considered to be one of the easiest languages to learn for native English speakers.