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Why is French still such a popular language to learn?

Among the hundreds of languages available, French is still one of the most popular choices among foreign language learners. The origin of this popularity comes in great part from the fact that until very recently, French was the lingua franca of the elites. As recently as 150 years ago, most French citizens spoke a regional language and few understood the formal French. Learning the very codified French (the one still taught in school) was a condition to get access to a higher social rank. The language formalization made it (relatively) easy to learn and all students used the same grammar and the same base. This allowed also Europeans elites to differentiate themselves from the people.

Today, French still has this elitist aura and still incites people who want to access a higher status to learn it. This post might seem presumptuous, but the declining position of French as a business, science or diplomatic language today does not explain why there are some many French students in the world.

What is your opinion?

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