College of Arts & Sciences

Modern and Classical Languages

Why Study French?

As you’ll see on our other pages, the French program at Saint Joseph’s offers many advantages. You might also choose to study French with us for the following reasons:

Philadelphia is a great place to speak French:

  • The city bears a decided French influence. City Hall is built in the French Second Empire architectural style and calls to mind Paris’s Hôtel de Ville. The Rodin Museum holds the largest collection of Rodin’s works outside of Paris. The Barnes Foundation (within walking distance of the Saint Joseph’s campus) possesses an astonishing collection of Impressionist art. A large collection of French art is found at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, as well.

  • There is a quartier français, home to French businesses including a pâtisserie, La Colombe coffeehouse, and the Sofitel hotel.

  • Food lovers can dine in outstanding restaurants, including La Crêperie Café, the Bistro St. Tropez, Beau Monde Crêperie, and the five-star Le Bec-Fin.

  • Opportunities to hear and speak French abound. Several area cinemas regularly show Francophone films, and a local public television station broadcasts the French news each weeknight. The Alliance Française hosts lectures and other events.

  • Philadelphia’s location permits access to a plethora of cultural activities. New York is a mere 82 miles away, and Washington, D.C. is 126 miles to the south. Montreal can be reached by car in approximately seven hours.

  • A great many professional opportunities exist in the area. Air France, the Sofitel hotel, Sanofi-Synthelabo, Aventis Pharmaceuticals, and Just France (a rental and real estate agency) are just a few of the region’s employers hiring Francophones and Francophiles. A recent search on monster.com turned up no fewer than 42 positions in and near Philadelphia for which knowing French was either a requirement or strongly desired. Among them:

    • legal assistant

    • staff accountant for a pharmaceutical company

    • bilingual software support technician

    • management consultant

    • customer service representative for a roofing company

    • executive secretary

    • polymer development engineer

    • database specialist

    • operations coordinator for a medical assistance company

    • marketing manager

    • quality assurance manager in the pharmaceutical industry

    • legal secretary

French can take you around the world:

  • French is widely spoken on five continents and in more than forty countries as the official language, a co-official language (for instance in Cameroon, Canada, and Haiti), or as an administrative or commercial language.

  • French is one of the principal languages of diplomacy and is a main working language of organizations including the United Nations, UNESCO, the International Monetary Fund, the World Health Organization, the International Olympic Committee, and the International Red Cross.

  • French is estimated to be among the top three or four languages of the internet.

  • France is the world’s major tourist attraction, with 75 million visitors a year.

    (sources: http://www.utm.edu/staff/globeg/profren.shtml
    http://www.ecu.edu.au/ses/iccs/cware/french/motivation/whyfren.htm)

For economic reasons:

  • French is the co-official language of Canada, the largest trading partner of the U.S. The province of Québec is the fifth largest trading partner of the U.S.

  • In 2000, the U.S. exported more to French-speaking countries than to countries with any other foreign language. Exports to Canada alone were greater than the combined exports to all countries south of the U.S.

  • France is the world’s second largest exporter of agricutural products (the U.S. is the first).

  • French companies employ approximately 650,000 Americans. Among foreign countries doing business in the U.S., France employs the third largest number of Americans.

  • France is the foremost European investor abroad.

(sources: http://www.fll.vt.edu/French/whyfrench.html
http://www.ecu.edu.au/ses/iccs/cware/french/motivation/whyfren.htm)

Because you’re interested in science and technology:

  • The International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor, the world’s first nuclear fusion reactor, will be located in France.

  • France is a major research center in high energy physics.

  • France is a leader in medical research (French doctors were the first to isolate HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, for instance).

  • France is at the forefront of medical genetics research (the Human Genome Project is located in Paris).

  • The world’s fastest train (the TGV) is French.

  • France is the world’s second largest manufacturer and exporter of civilian and military aircraft (Aérospatiale builds many of the U.S. Coast Guard’s helicopters, and Airbus—which has developed the world’s largest passenger jet, the A380—provides the second largest fleet of commercial airliners).

  • HDTV was invented in France, which is the world’s largest television manufacturer.

  • France has one of the world’s most advanced telecommunications systems. Fiber optics were invented in France.

  • Seven of France’s top ten exports to the U.S. are industrial or high tech products.

(source: http://www.fll.vt.edu/French/whyfrench.html)

It will improve your English:

  • Over 20,000 English words have their origins in French.

(source: http://www.utm.edu/staff/globeg/profren.shtml)

Because you like to read or see movies:

  • France has a long literary heritage. Twelve winners of the Nobel Prize for literature have come from France—more than from any other country. (source: http://www.ecu.edu.au/ses/iccs/cware/french/motivation/whyfren.htm)

  • Knowing French means that you can read and enjoy a wide variety of works—from fairy tales to contemporary Antillean novels—in their original language. Even when translations exist, they cannot capture the nuances of the French version.

  • Cinema was born in France with the Lumière brothers’ invention of the cinématographe. The famous annual film festival at Cannes each May draws stars and cinephiles from around the world.

  • France remains one of the world’s leading film producers. March of the Penguins (La marche de l’empereur) won the Academy Award for Best Documentary in 2006. To see what’s playing in the U.S., visit the cinema site of the Cultural Services of the French Embassy.

  • Many films from Francophone countries have been nominated for the Best Foreign Film Oscar. Since 2000, these include: Joyeux Noël, Les Choristes, Les Invasions barbares (winner in 2003), Le Fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain, and Le Goût des autres. You’ll be able to enjoy them without relying exclusively on subtitles.

  • The first director from an African country to attain international recognition is Francophone. Ousmane Sembene attracted special attention for Faat Kiné and Moolaadé.

For professional reasons:

  • French speakers can pursue careers in diverse fields, including:

    • Translating or interpreting (French is the second most widely used language at the United Nations)
    • Education
    • Journalism
    • Law
    • International Business
    • International Banking
    • Foreign Service positions
    • Non-profit work (including the Peace Corps, Habitat for Humanity, CARE, International Red Cross)
    • Publishing
    • Jobs in the travel and hotel industry
      Diplomacy

(sources: http://www.wm.edu/modlang/french/careers.php
http://www.scrippscol.edu/dept/careers/careerplan/WCIDWAMI/french.html)

Because you like sports:

  • France is home to cycling’s Tour de France, tennis’s French Open, and Les Bleus (the French soccer team)—winners of the 1998 World Cup and finalists in 2006.

You’ll have something in common with:

  • Lance Armstrong

  • Lauren Bacall

  • Orlando Bloom

  • Gérard Depardieu

  • Johnny Depp

  • Céline Dion

  • Jodie Foster

  • Angelina Jolie

  • Gwyneth Paltrow

  • Tony Parker (of the San Antonio Spurs)

  • Audrey Tautou (of Amélie and The Da Vinci Code)

  • Robin Williams

    All of them speak French, either as a native or second language. If you’re curious to know who else is a Francophone, consult the following list of celebrities.

Need even more reasons to learn French? Take a look at Tennessee Bob’s site.