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What is French? Facts and Figures about the French Language


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How many French speakers are there?
How many French speakers are there? Where is French spoken? How many French-speaking countries are there? In which international organizations is French an official language? Read this introduction to some facts and figures about the French language.

People often wonder how many French speakers there are, but a definitive answer is not easy to find. In 1999, French was the 11th most common first language in the world, with 77 million first language speakers and another 51 million second language speakers, according to the Ethnologue Report. (1) French is the second most commonly-taught second language in the world (after English).

Another source, La Francophonie dans le monde 2006-2007 (2), looks at it differently:
  • 128 million Francophones: speak French (as a native or adopted language) fluently and use it on a regular basis.
  • 72 million "partiel" Francophones: live in a francophone country but do not speak French regularly, due to limited knowledge.
  • 100-110 million students of all ages: do not live in a francophone country, but have learned/are learning French in order to communicate with Francophones.
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Keep reading

   French-speaking countries
   Unofficial French-speaking countries
   Organizations that use French
   Resources and further reading
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