International Day of La Francophonie


On 20 March, International Day of La Francophonie is celebrated. But do you know what "la francophonie" refers to exactly? Well, it’s the name used to collectively describe all of the countries and people who share French as a common language. The day is organised every year by the International Organisation of La Francophonie to promote the French language. It’s a perfect opportunity for you to visit exhibitions, watch films and read books in French, take part in writing workshops and discover traditional dishes from French-speaking countries. Of course, the La Francophonie organisation also champions universal values such as liberty, diversity, equality and solidarity between peoples. Its priorities include the right to education for all and sustainable development. Did you know that French is the second most commonly learned language in the world, after English? In total, more than 280 million people use the language and this number is set to continue to grow. French-speaking regions and countries include Quebec, Mali, Belgium, Lebanon, Madagascar, Switzerland and even Vietnam. Yes, you read that correctly, French is spoken in that far distant country, more than 10,000 kilometres (6,000 miles) from France! The Vietnamese still use words which are similar to certain French words. For example, gare (railway station) is “ga” in Vietnamese, aspirine (aspirin) is “atpirin”, “sô cô la” means chocolat (chocolate) and “phim” is film (film). If you are interested in Vietnam, I would recommend reading novels by Anna MoÏ or Kim Thuy. In her book Ru, Kim Thuy tells the story of her birth, her escape from communist Vietnam and her arrival in Quebec. It is a formidable lesson in courage which also invites the reader to reflect on the duties of wealthy countries with respect to the problems of migrants. Enjoy!


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