French is the only language other than English spoken on five continents. French and English are the only two global languages. It is an official language in 29 countries, most of which form what is called, in French, La Francophonie, the community of French-speaking countries.
In alphabetical order these are:
Belgium, Benin, Burkina-Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Canada, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, France, Gabon, Guinea, Haiti, Ivory Coast, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Mali, Monaco, Niger, Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Senegal, Seychelles, Switzerland, Togo and Vanuatu. It is an official language of all United Nations agencies and a large number of international organizations.
French, along with English, is the official working language of:
• the United Nations
• Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)
• the International Labour Bureau
• the International Olympic Committee
• the 31-member Council of Europe
• the European Community
• the Universal Postal Union
• the International Red Cross
• Union of International Associations (UIA)
French is the dominant working language at:
• the European Court of Justice
• the European Tribunal of First Instance
• the Press Room at the European Commission in Brussels, Belgium
French (francais), is a Romance language spoken as a first language by about 136 million people worldwide. Around 190 million people speak French as a second language. In addition, an estimated 100 million people have learned French to a standard which enables them to communicate effectively in the language.
French speaking communities are present in 57 countries and territories although most native speakers of the language actually live in France, where the language originated. The rest live in Canada (particularly Quebec, New Brunswick and Ontario), as well as Belgium, Switzerland, Luxembourg, and certain places in the United States, states of Maine and Louisiana. Most second-language speakers of French live in Francophone Africa. Africa is thus the continent with the most French speakers in the world. French arrived in Africa with colonisation from France and Belgium.
While any language will be useful for some jobs or for some regions, French is the only foreign language that can be useful throughout the world as well as in the United States. French as a foreign language is the second most frequently taught language in the world after English. When deciding on a foreign language for work or school, consider that French is the language that will give you the most choices later on in your studies or your career.