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Articles on French:
   Major in French
   A future in Foreign Language

Major in French

Article by Rachelle Wiggins

It is to the glory of God that [we] become more connected with our ever-increasing global community… We will be more effective witnesses for Christ when we attempt to learn the language of our friends from different cultures and languages.” ~Janet Davis

A Romance language, derived from the Vulgar Latin, French is the third most commonly spoken language in the United States (after English and Spanish). There are currently over 220 million French speakers worldwide, and that number is projected to be closer to 700 million by 2050 (the majority of those speakers being in Africa). Whether you are already fluent in French or just beginning to learn the language, a major in French will allow you to speak, write, and read the language effectively. These are desirable skills in a market that is increasingly global. Whether your goal is to work in business, education, government, communications or social service, a French major will prepare you for a career that effectively interfaces with a French speaking population in the U.S. or around the world.

An appreciation for those from other cultures and an adaptability to different environments is crucial for anyone majoring in a foreign language. Some of the other traits necessary for a French major include strong communication skills (both oral and written) since you will spend much time working with translating, editing and interpreting. In order to become fluent in a foreign language, it is important to be driven and dedicated, seizing every opportunity to gain additional experience with native speakers—whether this means seeking out volunteer or tutoring experiences, an internship, on-line communication or international study. Immersion has been proven to be the most effective way to thoroughly learn a language. Those who push themselves, take risks with speaking the language and persevere for the long haul are those most likely to effectively master their language of choice!

French in an interdisciplinary, liberal arts major, meaning you will draw from other fields of study and take broad-based core classes in addition to your French classes.  Be prepared to participate in class discussions in French, attend lectures, performances or poetry readings in French, or be asked to create a French-based website. It’s highly likely you will be required to study oversees for a semester. In addition to learning the linguistical side of the French language, you will study French literature and culture in great depth. Some of the classes you might take include:

  • French Civilization and Culture
  • Intro to Textual Analysis in French
  • Conversational French
  • Literature in Translation

The skills you’ll gain as a French major are transferable and diverse. Depending upon your career goals, it is not uncommon for a French major to earn a double major or go on for further study in order to prepare for a career in law, medicine, government or any number of other professions. It is impossible to cover the wide scope of career opportunities available to those who are bilingual and well-versed in a second culture, but some of the more common examples are:

  • Education: post-secondary teacher, college professor, textbook writer 
  • Business: International relations consultant, banker, branch manager 
  • Communication: Foreign news correspondent, international broadcasting/ publishing, advertising
  • Culture: Travel agent, cultural events coordinator, tour guide, missionary
  • Social services: Vocational counselor, case worker, health care worker
  • Translator/Interpreter in any of the above fields

If you are passionate about working with a French speaking population around the world or here in the United States, then perhaps a major in French is the next step God has for you!