|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. To a lesser degree, the same goes for "high society" circles on every continent.
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 as of 2017), Belgium, and Québec (Canada). Professionally, the French language is extremely important in the fashion industry, as well as in such sectors as hospitality, viticulture, and interior design. In the academe, humanities researchers (particularly those in philosophy and the social sciences) are still combing through the rich legacy of the French intellectual giants of the second half of the 20th century (Bourdieu, Foucault, Deleuze, Derrida, Sartre, Barthes, etc).
Finally, with French, you will have access to an astounding array of cultural riches, from literature to philosophy to music and film, in the native tongue of the creators.
French is an Indo-European language, spoken in many countries. It belongs to the Romance language group of the Indo-European family. The language has 2 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.