France, one of the "old" countries of Europe, has played and continues to play a major economic and political role in the world. A member of the UN, NATO, UNESCO, the International Labor Bureau, the Council of Europe, the European Union and more, France also exerts a strong cultural influence in the world and is a leading trading nation, excelling in areas such as food, wine, fashion, aviation, public transportation, military industry, medicine, science and technological innovations.
Knowledge of French language and French and Francophone cultures offers assets to students interested in various fields of study such as politics, international relations, literature, history, philosophy, psychology, the arts, cinema, fashion, medicine and business.
The influence of the French language extends well beyond its borders. French, the second truly global language after English, is spoken not only in Europe, but also in parts of the US and across its border into Canada (Québec and the other provinces), South America, Africa, the Middle East, South East Asia and the Pacific. French is the 3rd most frequently spoken non-English language in US homes and the second most commonly taught foreign language in the United States (after Spanish).
French is the third largest of the Romance languages in terms of number of native speakers, after Spanish and Portuguese, being spoken by about 109 million people as a mother tongue, and altogether by some 264 million people (including second-language speakers and learners). French is thus the 10th most spoken language in the world by number of native speakers, and 5th in terms of daily speakers. It is an official language in 29 countries.
French is also an official or administrative language in several communities and international organizations such as the European Union, International Olympic Committee, World Trade Organization, FINA, FIA, World Anti-Doping Agency, United Nations, African Union, International Court of Justice, International Secretariat for Water, International Association of Political Science, International Bureau of Weights and Measures, European Broadcasting Union, Universal Postal Union, Interpol and more. It is also one of the six working languages of the United Nations.
The French have had a long standing relationship with the United States, from Revolutionary times to the present. In the Philadelphia area, these ties are still present in the city’s rich history and culture, from Ben Franklin’s historic role as ambassador to France, to the art and architecture of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Rodin Museum and the various buildings and avenues of the city, to the delightful French restaurants and patisseries. The region is also the home of French-speaking people from various countries, a bilingual French-American school and numerous French firms, as evidenced by the French-American Chamber of Commerce, the largest of the 14 bi-national chambers of commerce in the region (there are at least 2,400 French subsidiaries in the US, providing more than 500, 000 direct jobs. US subsidiaries in France provide about 580, 000 direct jobs).
Thinking of going abroad? France remains the first destination for tourism in the world and Paris the most visited city.
About the Curriculum
All language courses are oral-intensive (with additional hours required in the Language Lab) and all include individual oral examinations at the end of each term. In Western languages, enrollments are limited to 15 to 18 students in the first three years of study; fourth-year courses use a seminar format, with a usual enrollment of four to eight students.
Learn more about the minor in the Course Catalog