St. Olaf College

French Program, Department of Romance Languages

More than 220 million people around the world — in North and South America, the Caribbean, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, the Pacific and Indian Oceans — speak French. It is an official language in 25 countries. The Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie estimates that by 2050, over 700 million people (80% of whom will live in Africa) will speak French, and that by 2025, French will be the most common native language in Europe.

French is one of the official languages of governing institutions in diverse domains: diplomacy; international trade and economics; healthcare and science; and sports. For centuries, it has been one of the languages most associated with art, music, film, literature, cuisine, and fashion. The French language’s far-reaching geographical and cultural influence helps to explain why it remains the second-most-taught language in the United States.

A major in French complements any other St. Olaf major and extends students’ liberal arts education and multicultural competence. By studying the French language and Francophone cultures, civilizations, and literatures, students develop and enhance their oral and written language skills, analytical thinking, and familiarity with diverse perspectives sought by employers and graduate schools today.

The French section of the Department of Romance Languages offers a variety of courses, on campus and abroad, for beginning, intermediate, and advanced students, both majors and non-majors. To expand students’ exposure to French beyond the classroom, the French program hosts a weekly French conversation table, culture table, and film series and sponsors an honor house (Maison française). St. Olaf benefits annually from the presence of a number of international students from Europe and Africa whose first language is French.