A very recent study conducted by Nataxis, a French bank, caused alarm for its conclusion that French could be the most spoken language in the world, clearly overtaking English or even Mandarin, by 2050. English is the dominant language, which foreshadowed French and caused it to take a backseat. And the study suggests that there are several reasons why the conclusion was drawn.
In the year 2010, there were about 220 million people around the world that spoke French. In that same year, English had 320 million speakers around the globe. In the study, Nataxis suggests that the French language has the potential to be spoken by 750 million people by year 2050, which many believe is such a huge jump.
The study cites the population surge in sub-Saharan Africa as one of the reasons for its conclusion. It indeed caused quite a stir even in France, and some were skeptical about this happening for real. Authoritative figures, such as Alexandre Wolff, during an interview, suggested that it would still be the English language that would remain dominant. Mr. Wolff, the head of the Observatory of the French Language, also noted that the projections shown in the study were very impressive. However, he also said that the study failed to account for the co-existence of other languages.
Following on that thought, Mr. Wolff also added that it was indeed possible for French to be elevated to that status mentioned in the study, if it were only about accounting for the inhabitants of all the countries where the official language is French. This was the same reasoning arrived at in the analysis done by Forbes.
However, there is still the fact that French is a fast growing language on a global scale. The language is spoken, in varying degrees, in all continents and is prominent in the African continent, which is predicted to be a future economic power.
French language resurgence
The study came at the heels of the news that French is experiencing a resurgence in New York. There are eight public schools in New York that have an English-French dual language program, catering to around 1,000 students. The demand for the dual-language program is increasing, with two schools joining the program this year and petitions from several groups of parents from different schools continue to be received.
Help from French government agencies
The initiative is not a local government effort, though. It is the French government that supports the dual-language programs in the participating schools since 2007. Several French government offices, such as the National Assembly, the Senate and the Ministries of Education and Foreign Affairs have nurtured the program. They provided the seed money and grants to these schools in New York. These French government agencies paid for the students’ course books and the training of teachers in France.
The program’s goal is to build a seamless dual-language curriculum from kindergarten up to the 12th grade as well as increase its enrollment. The 5-year target is 7,000 enrollees.