With around 200 million speakers across the world, French is one of the commonest - and hence most useful - languages. The International Organization of Francophonie has 56 member states and governments, with a primary objective to promote its teaching. French is also the only language other than English spoken on five continents (as well as benefiting from being one of the principal languages of the United Nations, the European Union, NATO, the WTO and the International Olympic Committee). In total, French as a foreign language is the second most frequently taught language in the world after English.

Moreover, due to the significant population increase expected in French-speaking Africa in the coming decades, its potential to even overtake English as the main European language of choice, is not beyond the realm of possibility. In fact a 2014 study by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) found that 50% of managers considered French to be a valuable asset for their businesses, more then any other foreign language (including German, Spanish, Mandarin and Arabic), as companies seek new emerging markets in Africa and Asia.

Outside of France itself, French is spoken in Belgium, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Monaco and of course Canada. In fact French is an official language in 29 countries, including most of west and central Africa (Cameroon, Senegal, The Democratic Republic Congo etc) and several island nations (Togo, Seychelles, Haiti etc). More importantly, because it has been steadily filtering into the English lexicon since 1066, it is also one of the easiest foreign languages for native English speakers to learn: "Avant-garde", "bon voyage", "cul-de-sac", "déjà vu", "femme fatale", "grand prix", "joie de vivre", "Mardi gras", "papier-mâché", "répondez s'il vous plait" (RSVP), "savoir-faire"...

...You can practically speak French already!

Levels offered ONLINE

Beginners (level 1 - A1 CEFR)

You have little or no prior knowledge of French.

Post-beginners Plus Online (level 2 - A2 CEFR)

You can manage French language in basic situations using present, future and past tenses.

Intermediate Fast Track Online (level 3 - B1.1  CEFR)

You can read and write basic French sentences in everyday situations using past, present and future tenses.

Conversational Online  - STARTING 14 MAY 2020

An opportunity to communicate in French - practising your conversation, debating, presentation skills.

Not sure which level you want? Use the ELP self-assessment grid to identify your level of competence.

Start learning right now...

Greeting: "Salut!" (hello/hi - informal)

Counting: un, deux, trois, quatre, cinq...

Useful phrases: "Est-ce que vous pourriez parler plus lentement, s'il vous plait" (Can you speak more slowly, please? - formal).

Est-ce-que is a helpful expression to recall because it is used primarily when posing a yes/no question and can translate literally as: 'Is...?' (More specifically it is a signal that a yes/no question is about to follow).

Interesting points: French remains the premier language in the culinary world. Fairly obvious given how well France exports its food and wine products (e.g. "foie gras", "brie" or "cabernet" are commonly used everywhere). Yet France’s influence on how customers order their food goes well beyond what customers say: it also extends to the kitchen. Considering that French cooking and technique serve as the basis for a proper culinary training, chefs themselves have to master French: "consommé", "julienne", "mayonnaise" are obligatory terms that have all emerged from the language of Molière, Voltaire, Stendhal, Flaubert, Hugo, Zola and de Beauvoir.

Of equal note, since ballet was first formalized in France, a significant part of ballet terminology remains en Français. As a result, ballet dancers will already learn a few French words, perhaps without realising it: "Rond de jambe", "plié", "enjambé" par exemple, are all French terms that describe basic ballet poses.

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Language skills on your transcript

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Language degrees

Modern Languages at Leicester, part of the School of Arts, offers undergraduate and postgraduate degrees combining French, Spanish and Italian with each other and with other academic subjects. We also offer degrees in translation and interpreting.

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