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Honouring the French language

Author: Catherine Seewald/18 March 2024/Categories: Show on front page, France, Council of Europe

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This year, the 29th edition of the French Language and Francophonie Week, entitled "On the podium", celebrates French and sport alongside the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games. A variety of events are planned at an international level from 16 to 24 March.

International Francophonie Day 2024 – Create, innovate, undertake in French

Every year around 20 March, la Journée internationale de la Francophonie is celebrated both in French-speaking countries and in those where the French language is less widely spoken. The Observatoire de la langue française estimates that there are 321 million French speakers on five continents. The events organised to mark the occasion aim to highlight the diversity and vitality of the Francophonie.

In 2024, the theme "Create, innovate, undertake in French" highlights the many opportunities and dynamism of the French-speaking world, encouraging creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship as levers for job creation for young people. This theme, launched on 20 March, will be developed throughout the year.

Modern Languages Week in France (18-23 March 2024)

In France, Modern Languages Week runs from 18 to 23 March 2024. Its aim is to highlight languages and linguistic diversity both inside and outside school. The aim of the event is to encourage the use of languages and to promote linguistic diversity, plurilingualism, language education and existing initiatives. The theme chosen for this year's event is "It's all about communicating", with the Olympic and Paralympic Games as a backdrop.

French, one of the official languages of the Council of Europe

Along with English, French is one of the two official languages of the Council of Europe. The Organisation is strongly committed to a balanced use of the two official languages, and in particular to respecting the principle of parity between the two official languages in accordance with the Statute of the Council of Europe. Among other things, it has just published Guidelines for the use of inclusive language in French and English, which will now be used by its European Centre for Modern Languages as a basis for its inclusive communication.

The presence of the French language in the world – some figures

  • With around 321 million speakers, French remains the 5th most widely spoken language in the world (after English, Chinese, Hindi and Spanish) (1) and is the 3rd most widely used language in business.
  • 81 million people speak it as their mother tongue and 255 million use it daily. (2)
  • More than 93 million pupils have French as one of their languages of instruction. (1)
  • As a foreign language, French is the 2nd most learnt language in the world by over 50 million people. (1)
  • On the Internet, French is the 2nd most widely used language, with 180 million French-speaking Internet users (3.3% of Internet users worldwide). (2)

(1) Organisation internationale de la Francophonie, The French Language in the World 2019-2022, Gallimard, Paris, 2022.
      Full reportSummary

(2) Report to Parliament on the French language 2024, portrait of public policies in favour of the French language and plurilingualism


Find out more:

Website of the International Organisation of La Francophonie

Website of the French Ministry of Education and Youth

Éduscol website


Related content:

Council of Europe website dedicated to the European Day of Languages (26 September)


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