A message from French Club member Caitlin Hueckstaedt

The French language is spoken in 29 countries across the globe. Only English, with 50 countries, beats it. With the United States pulling back on its international efforts and the Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel, stepping down in the next few years, France is stepping in to fill the void. French President, Emmanuel Macron, has risen as a leader in the European Union and a player on the international stage.

France, and the French language, are becoming more important and prolific than you may have realized. If you have ever watched the Olympics, you may have noticed that all announcements are made first in the language of the host nation, then in French, and lastly in English. French is one of the official languages of the United Nations and the European Union. It is used by the European Parliament. It is a growing language.

One may even be surprised by how many French words and terms the English language adopted. Almost a third of the English language is made up of French words. Did you know that “RSVP” is an abbreviation for a French term? ​Répondez s’il vous plaît​. It translates to “please respond”. If you are going to have a ​tête-à-têtew​ ith someone, you’re going to have a face to face conversation. We can thank William the Conqueror and the Norman occupation of England for all the French words.

In an age where the world is becoming smaller, after the advent of movies, television, video games, and the Internet, people often struggle to keep up. They wonder how to understand other cultures that are becoming more influential. The French culture has had a momentous influence on the world.

It has been well documented that human beings fear the unknown. Who can blame them? The unknown is a scary thing. The remedy for such fear is education. If one learns about the unknown, there is nothing left to fear.

Luckily, for students at Harper College, there are French classes and French Club. Students are provided the opportunity to learn not only the French language, but culture as well. They explore French culture through games, movies, expeditions to art exhibits, and French culinary experiences.

French Club (Image courtesy of Linda Schumacher)

There is more to French than France, however. The French Empire lasted from the 16th century to 1939. During that time, they colonized significant portions of Africa, parts of South Asia, a section of the Middle East along the Mediterranean coast, Pacific Islands, Caribbean Islands, some land in South America, and most of North America.

As a result of this colonization, French is still spoken in the majority of these former French Colonies. The closest, geographical example would be Canada. The entire eastern province of Quebec uses French as their official language. In New Orleans, Louisiana, a form of French is still spoken.

The French classes and French Club at Harper cover this too. We learn about the unique culture of Francophone nations that have been impacted by the world in the past. Moreover, many are still feeling that impact today.

French Club (Image courtesy of Linda Schumacher)

Ultimately, French is the language of the traveler. It is the tongue of the wandering romantic. French is also the language of cuisine. It is referred to as the language of love, but it is not limited to the love of a person. French can express the love one feels for the soft touch of the sun as it rises. It can communicate the awe one feels as they gaze upon an untouched, sprawling vista. French is for those who wish to explore the world and immerse themselves in what it has to offer.

“​If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.​” -Nelson Mandela.

The French Club meets every other Monday and Thursday in L311 this semester from 2:30-4:30. We always welcome new members. You can contact our advisor, Prof. Schumacher at ​[email protected]​for details on meetings and activities.
There are different levels of French offered each semester, and the same textbook is used for the first four levels, so once you purchase the book for 101, you are set for two years. It ends up being $50 per semester. In the fall, Harper will even offer French online.

French Club (Image courtesy of Linda Schumacher)