CCI Paris Ile de France

Publié le 18 September 2018

Francophonie, a vehicle for economic opportunities in the United States

With more than 50 partners in the United States, the majority of which being universities, the Paris Île-de-France Regional Chamber of Commerce’s French for Business works daily to help American institutions develop professional French skills.

The French language, being graced with a strong multicultural element, is present and used on every continent in the world. It represents a massive advantage in a country such as the United States whose economic and geopolitical interests spread from Europe to Africa.

Francophonie, a vehicle for economic opportunities in the United States

Francophonie represents strong economic potential for Americans. As the number one foreign investor in France and Africa, the United States has every reason to keep French as the second most taught language in the country, including schools as well as in universities and businesses.

The French language’s popularity in the United States is partially related to the fact that France has 4,800 satellite companies based in the United States, generating 575,000 jobs. However, it is also thanks to the soaring number of business connections between the United States and Africa.

Direct investments from the United States to Africa have not ceased to rise, reaching a height of 56% over 10 years. Furthermore, multilateral agreements continue to develop. For example, the cooperation agreement, African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), in effect since 2000, has recently been extended until 2025. This agreement facilitates and regulates the economic exchanges between 40 African countries and the United States.

Francophonie, an important diplomatic issue for the United States

With 274 native speakers spread across all of the continents, Francophonie is an essential diplomatic issue for the American government. Consequently, Brian Neuber has been named as a spokesperson, exclusively dedicated to the francophone community, to represent the U.S. State Department. His mission is to communicate in French about foreign politics and regional issues on behalf of the American government.

Mr. Neuber has stressed that it is important for the American government to assure that French-speaking journalists have a reliable and direct source to understand American foreign politics, and that this is sometimes not the case for some French-speaking journalists in Africa.

This effort is all the more important as the United States has allocated $13 billion in public development aid to the Africa, with 10% being directly allocated to French-speaking countries.

French for Business’s actions in the United States

Through the university community, French for Business actively supports the realization that the French language is an advantage for future and current professionals in the United States. Between 2015 and 2018, the number of American candidates for our French Evaluation Test (TEF) certificates and Business French Diplomas has jumped to 53%. This positive statistic is encouraging us to double our efforts to establish professional French in the United States.

Therefore, we have organized a series of classroom trainings in different US states as a joint effort with the French Embassy in the United States. These trainings target those who wish to discover professional French or reinforce their “French for professional purposes” teaching methods.

We also organize events that allow us to go meet American students, whom are the future decision makers in the American economy. In the beginning of October, we held conferences with the Charles de Gaulle Foundation in different American universities of the Eastern coast.

The goal was to familiarize students with the professional advantage of mastering French in their respective future career field. We visited the French departments at Johns Hopkins University, American University, University of Virginia, Boston College, Tufts University, Lycée International de Boston, Rhodes Island University and New York University.

Finally, for the second consecutive year, French for Business will participate in the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) Convention, which will be held in New Orleans from November 16 to November 18. At this convention, our team will share information about our work as well as the tools and resources that we plan to use to improve the teaching of “French for professional purposes”.

This will also be the perfect occasion for us to meet our current and potential partners. This year, we will organize a conference on promoting French for business with the participation of Cheryl Toman, Chair of French Department at Case Western Reserve University, and Karl Cogard, Educative Cooperation Attaché at the French Embassy in the United States.