Every year, speakers of French unite globally to celebrate Francophonie Week from March 17–25 and UN French Language Day on March 20. This year’s theme was “The French language, connecting for action.” French Language and Francophonie Week, coordinated by the French Ministry of Culture, highlighted the role and use of the spoken word in society. Five hundred bookstores, dozens of associations, libraries, schools, universities, museums, theaters, and hospitals hosted events. The French Ministry for National Education, the Institut Français, the Alliance Française, French-language schools, and all French culture and education stakeholders hosted events worldwide during French Language and Francophonie Week.
President of France Emmanuel Macron has made the promotion of the French language and culture a priority, with a plan to promote the French language and multilingualism announced March 20, 2018. French, the second-most-studied language in the world, with some 125 million students and 900,000 teachers of French abroad, is shared by 274 million people worldwide, is the fifth-most-spoken language on the planet, and is, along with English, the only language spoken on all five continents.
The term Francophonie refers to all the states and governments worldwide which share the French language. The International Organization of la Francophonie, created in 1970, represents one of the biggest linguistic zones in the world.
Its mission is to embody the active solidarity among its 88 member states and governments (54 full members, seven associates, and 27 observers), which together represent over one-third of the United Nations’ member states and account for a population of over 890 million people, including 274 million French speakers.
IOF organizes political activities alongside the four main objectives which it has been assigned:
- To promote the French language and cultural and linguistic diversity;
- To promote peace, democracy, and human rights;
- To support education, training, higher education institutions, and research;
- To foster cooperation in favor of sustainable development.