On the occasion of the International Day of La Francophonie, H.E. Gaston Stronck, the Ambassador of Luxembourg to the US, co-signed an op-ed authored by H.E. Philippe Étienne, the Ambassador of France, in Newsweek magazine. In the article, Ambassador Étienne describes how the Day of La Francophonie celebrates not only the French language and culture, but also cultural diversity and multilingualism.
Americans of French-speaking heritage comprise some 9 million people, notably in Louisiana, Maine and some Midwest states. Furthermore, there are 1.3 million students learning the French language in schools and universities across the United States, making French the second-most taught foreign language in the country. In addition, French is the third most in demand foreign language among U.S. employers.
Ambassador Étienne, however, expresses concern over the decreased funding for foreign language teaching across all levels of education in the United States. Research shows that learning a foreign language encourages development of empathy, emotional intelligence and effective interpretive and interpersonal skills. The students of today will live and work in an increasingly interconnected world in which foreign language skills will be an essential asset to have when looking for a job or developing business relations.
The op-ed concludes with the hope that the future generation will be equipped with an education that will both prepare them to seize new opportunities in our globalized world as well as tackle its challenges.