Being the 5th most spoken language globally with 576 million people, French is very essential today. We can even say that in the future, with the increase in the population in Africa, French will further strengthen its place on the international scene. That's already a good reason to learn French, right?
If you are not convinced, that's good because there are still many other reasons to learn French.
As a Nigerian and non-native English speaker, one of the benefits of learning French is to help you understand the English language. Although English is a Germanic language, French has had a significant impact on it. French is the largest donor of foreign words in the English language. If your English vocabulary is not much higher than average, learning French will significantly increase the number of English words you know.
French is spoken as a mother tongue in more than twenty countries on five continents. Depending on your sources, French is the 11th or 13th most common mother tongue globally, with 72 to 79 million native speakers and another 190 million secondary speakers. French is the second most commonly learned second language globally (after English), which is a real possibility that French will be spoken practically everywhere you travel.
Common French Words and Phrases Used in the English Language
The history of the French language in English began in 1066 after the Norman conquest of England, led by William, Duke of Normandy. It was then that the language of the nobility became French, and the commoners - English. For three centuries (XI-XIV), these two languages competed with each other. French clearly dominated, bringing more and more new vocabulary to English. Its prevalence in the circles of the aristocracy determined the topic of borrowing. So, the most significant number of them is military affairs, trade, science, art, etc.
Did you know that the difference in the names of animals and meat they give is due to the Norman conquest and the same way of life in England in the XI-XIV centuries? So, English peasants called their animals natively English words ( cow - cow, pig - pig, sheep - sheep, calf - calf), but when they came to the market to sell their products, they used French words ( beef - beef, pork - pork, mutton - lamb, veal - veal) to facilitate the process of trading and communication with high-level buyers or their representatives.
Some of the typical French words and phrases used in English in Nigeria today include:
- tête-a-tête [ˌteɪtəˈteɪt] - one on one, tete-a-tete
Tomorrow I'm going to have dinner tête-à-tête with him.
(Tomorrow I have a tete-a-tete dinner with him)
- à la carte [ɑː lɑː ˈkɑːt] - from the menu (that is, not a combined lunch; you have to pay for each dish separately at a price indicated in the menu)
Last night we had dinner à la carte at that new French restaurant.
(Yesterday we had a la carte dinner at that new French restaurant)
- à la française [ɑː lɑː frɑ̃sɛz] - in French, in the French manner (by analogy, for example, you can do? la russe)
It was an example of business à la française.
(This was an example of doing business in a French manner)
- à la mode [ɑː lɑː ˈməʊd] - fashionable, fashionable
She has always dressed à la mode.
(She always dresses fashionably)
- bon appétit [ˌbɒn apɛˈtiː] - bon appetit
Martha has brought the cake! Now, bon appétit!
(Martha brought cake! So bon appetit!)
- bon vivant [bɔ̃ vivɑ̃] - carousel; a person who loves to live for his pleasure
By nature, he was a bon vivant and could never resist going to parties and drinking champagne.
(He was bon vivant by nature and could never resist parties and champagne)
- bon voyage [bɔ̃ vwajaʒ] - have a nice trip
My mother wished us a bon voyage and stood on the platform long after the train left.
(My mother wished us a pleasant journey and stood on the platform for a long time after the train left)
- carte blanche [kart blɑ̃ʃ] - carte blanche (complete freedom of action)
The director gave me carte blanche to do as I thought fit.
(The director gave me carte blanche to act as I see fit)
- haute couture [ˌəʊt kʊˈtjʊə] - high fashion
Her dress was an elegant example of haute couture.
(Her dress was an elegant piece of haute couture)
- je ne sais quoi [ˌʒə nə seɪ ˈkwɑː] - I don't know what, something elusive; challenging to express in words
He has this je ne sais quoi, which makes him stand out among other singers.
(He has something so elusive that makes him stand out from other singers)
How Long To Learn French?
Have you ever wondered how long it takes to learn French? Whether you've tried attending language schools, are currently taking a French for beginners course, or are part of a Facebook group for French learners - it's impossible to know precisely how many hours you will need to speak French fluently.
However, as French teachers or multilingual will tell you, French is a world language that is one of the easiest to learn. According to a study by the American Foreign Service Institute, or FSI, the Romance language is one of the easiest living languages in the world to learn.
As with all language programs worldwide, the French language levels are set in a European Union framework known as the CEFRL for European languages. These levels are not only for European speakers but for anyone trying to determine their knowledge of French. There are six levels, ranging from the basic, A1, to complete fluency, C2.
The B2 level, an intermediate step that means that you can listen to French audio and express yourself easily, both in writing and orally, is the level generally required for entry into public universities for a language study or mathematics and Sciences. Oral expression is significant in French universities, which means you have to work on perfecting your accent. The time required is dependent on you!
Is Learning French as a Foreign Language Difficult?
"Bon appétite", "Mercie", "C'est la vie" - all these expressions are well known to most Nigerian persons, even if they have never thought that they are of French origin. And listening to the enchanting voice of Joe Dassin, Edith Piaf, Garou or Patricia Kaas, we are involuntarily transported to the Champs-Élysées, mentally walking along the Seine embankment and admiring the famous Eiffel Tower.
If you have already had experience learning foreign languages, you know that learning any language is fraught with several difficulties. These difficulties can be both motivational and linguistic. French isn't much more challenging to learn than, say, English or Italian. Here are the primary language "difficulties" of the French language:
- French verbs: All verbs are conjugated in a specific form that you need to know. Also, there are several exception verbs that you need to learn.
- Nouns: Every noun in French has its gender (it often does not coincide with masculine, feminine and neuter gender in English). It will not work here to determine the gender according to a clear rule, so every word and article to it must be memorised (however, there is a doubt, do all the French know precisely the gender of this or that word?)
- Pronunciation: Everyone knows the sound "r" and the frequency nasal sounds "n", unlike any other.
- Fast speech: Understanding the French’s spoken language can be very difficult because native speakers speak fluently and often illegible. Immersion in the language environment will help you overcome this speech barrier.
To be fair, let's note the "easy" feature in studying the French language. It is much more accurate and easier to understand in terms of word reading than English, where the spelling of a word and its pronunciation may not coincide. And to read a French word, it is enough to know a few simple pronunciation rules.
For these reasons, it is believed that learning French should be started as early as possible because, in early childhood, pronunciation norms and the French "r" are easier to perceive, fluent reading and speaking are easier to learn. So, is French really hard to learn?
Advantages of Learning French
There are more than 250 million French-speaking people in the world. Like English, it is one of the few languages spread across five continents. French is the third most used language on the Internet, after English and German. Why should I learn French as a Nigerian?
Knowing French is a stepping stone to entering French domestic and international companies (France is the third-largest economic power country and the third-largest recipient of foreign investment). Also, French is an international language in the fields of cooking, fashion, theatre, visual arts, dance, and architecture. Proficiency in French and English is a trump card to increase job opportunities in the international job market.
As a Nigerian, learning to speak French may benefit you in many ways than you realise. One of the prerequisites for entering a French university is to be able to speak French. It is one of the requirements for entering a well-known French university or a French higher business school that is among the best in the world and Europe. International students who can speak French have the opportunity to apply for the French government's third-stage scholarship at French universities to study for an internationally recognised French degree.
As a language of international relations, French is the official language and working language of the European Union, the United Nations Representative Office in Europe, UNESCO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the International Olympic Committee and the International Red Cross. It is also the official language of many international courts. Therefore, if you are interested in international relations, French is the best language to learn.
As you can see, the advantages of learning French as a Nigerian are innumerable. Take a bold step today and sign up for French classes via Superprof!