Bonne journée de la francophonie!
Happy International Francophonie Month! Joyeux Mois de la Francophonie!
March is Francophonie Month, when we celebrate the French language and cultures, and International Francophonie Day is March 20. So if you’re reading this on that day, bonne journée de la francophonie as well!
The Carnegie Learning team includes many former French teachers, students, and Francophiles. We asked our team to share some favorite memories of teaching, studying, and experiencing the French language and cultures.
Here are our top 10 reasons why we celebrate International Francophonie Day!
1. Teaching French Opens the World for Students
Shaun Bauer, Senior Instructional Designer for World Languages, shares a favorite memory of celebrating French-speaking cultures in his classroom in Osceola County, Florida.
“My favorite memory from the classroom is from my first year teaching. In my level 4 French class, we read excerpts from the opera Carmen. The opera was also being performed that year by a local company, and we went to see it. The students' amazement and wonder at the opera itself was one thing, but the fact that they commented that they could recognize the language they had read in the words being sung was unforgettable.”
Celebrate International Francophonie Day by watching a scene from Carmen!
2. French Speakers Are Everywhere!
Myriam Arcangeli is a native French speaker from Brive-la-Gaillarde, France, and is the Senior Editorial Manager of our French language solution. She shares one thing she wishes more people knew about the French language.
"One thing to know about the French language is that most native French speakers are not born in France or Quebec. Did you know that the vast majority of native French speakers are born in Africa? What’s the largest francophone city in the world? It’s not Paris, but Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo in Central Africa.
So, French speakers are diverse and live all over the world. Some of them are even born in the U.S.! Because of the history of our country, if you speak French, you may one day use your French with someone coming from Louisiana, North Dakota, Missouri, Maine, Massachusetts, or Vermont. Or when you attend a fabulous Hollywood event, you may decide to ask all of your questions to Timothée Chalamet in French, whose francophone heritage comes from his French dad.
Speaking French opens a world of new connections in places that you wouldn’t think of, including here at home."
Celebrate International Francophonie Day by watching this interview in French with Timothée Chalamet.
3. French Teachers Are Unforgettable
Maggie Fiorentino, Senior Product Marketing Manager of World Languages, recalls her favorite high school French teacher growing up outside of Boston, Massachusetts.
“My favorite memories of French class in high school center around our kind, warm, and patient teacher, Madame Kosersky. A native of Hyères, France, she spent her youth living between Hyères and her family's apartment in Manhattan.
While she would occasionally make us giggle with her frequent references to Michael Jackson when searching for relevant pop culture examples in the late 80s, I’ll remember her most for her love of all things French, her passion for and infinite knowledge of classic Hollywood films, and the incredible stories of her childhood in France during WWII.”
Celebrate International Francophonie Day by reaching out to your favorite French teacher and telling them what they mean to you!
4. The French Language Is Inseparable From French Culture
As a French student in Lilburn, Georgia, Lisa Stueve, Manager of School Partnerships for Math, learned firsthand that experiencing French culture was a crucial component of studying the French language. She eventually applied what she learned from her French teacher to her career as a math teacher.
“During my high school experience, I elected to study French as a second language for all things romantic and beautiful, plus my mother spoke some.
My small rural high school had one French teacher, Mrs. Marsha Jackson. She taught me all four years—the fourth an independent study reading literature en francais.
My parents and Mrs. Jackson worked to afford me a trip to France my senior spring break. It was my first trip abroad, my first trip on an airplane, and my first trip without my parents. The trip solidified my love of the beauty and uniqueness that is the French culture, reaffirmed when I first read A Year In Provence.
Mrs. Jackson and I taught together years later, and I carried with me the belief that students learn from experience. That’s why I advocated for and continue to provide field trips, guest speakers, and summer camps, and on a smaller scale, hands-on activities and strong connections to contexts for students.”
Celebrate International Francophonie Day by experiencing a feature of French-speaking culture, whether it’s an in-person visit or reading a book.
5. French Culture Leaves a Lifelong Imprint
Leila Huang, UI/UX Designer, studied French growing up in Taiwan, and she still remembers some of the French culture that her teacher shared.
“My teacher shared the songs “La Vie en Rose” by Edith Pilaf and “Le Temps des Cathédrales” from the musical Notre Dame de Paris. Also, I remember there was one time she went to Google Maps and took us to Paris. She showed us L’Arc de Triomphe and Avenue des Champs-Élysées. It was fun!”
Celebrate International Francophonie Day by watching this performance of “Le Temps des Cathédrales.”
6. Paris Is One Of A Kind
Sonya Fleming, Manager of Professional Learning Design for Literacy, is originally from Albury-Wodonga, Australia, and is now based in New York City. She fondly remembers a brief but profound visit to the city of love.
“I visited Paris for a hot minute just after I turned 30. I was traveling by myself and tried to jam as much into the short amount of time as I could. My favorite memory is exploring the Montmartre area: visiting the Sacre Coeur as the sun set, watching the Eiffel Tower glitter in the evening sky, and then, exhausted, finding a little café bistro where I enjoyed the most delicious pasta and wine I've ever tasted while a gentleman played an upright piano. Such a wonderful memory!”
Celebrate International Francophonie Day by researching a French-speaking city you’d like to visit!
7. Visiting a French City Can Feel Like Home
Stacia Cartlidge, Director of Professional Learning Design for World Language, also shares a Paris memory.
“We timed our visit to Paris to watch the end of the Tour de France. It was the quintessential experience to watch the race finish along the Champs-Élysées. Also, we live outside of Washington, D.C., so we loved seeing the architectural similarities of the two cities.”
Celebrate International Francophonie Day by finding French-speaking sister cities of cities near you.
8. French Immersion Can Expand Opportunities
Anneke Bates, Senior Director of Product Management, feels awe and excitement about the power that a French immersion school had on her child and their classmates.
"Here in Montgomery County, Maryland, my child went to a French language immersion school. The kindergarten teachers pretend not to speak English at all.
The children start with songs, colors, and greetings. In November, kids can earn special points if they are heard speaking French in the hallways or playgrounds. In February, they get a little stricter, and kids lose points if they are heard speaking English to their friends.
Everyone in my kid’s cohort was a fluent five-year-old by the end of the year, and today many of them are earning IB French credentials and are heading off to colleges in Francophone countries.
It was amazing to watch those kids gain an entire new language in such a short time, and even more exciting to see how many of them kept studying French once they left elementary school!”
Celebrate International Francophonie Day by immersing yourself in a French community… or maybe just watching some funny French TikToks.
@atfrenchies So what year are you? ���� #french ♬ original sound - ATfrenchies
9. France Isn’t Just in France
Kathryn Hancock, Educational Designer in the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador, shares her love of experiencing French culture close to home.
“My favorite memories of experiencing a French-speaking culture are when I visited St. Pierre and Miquelon. It’s a tiny island off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador that belongs to France. I loved walking through the cobblestone streets, exploring the museums, and of course enjoying the delicious local cuisine and pastries. You are truly immersed in French culture as the shops close from 12pm-2pm daily, and restaurants don’t open for supper until after 7pm.”
Celebrate International Francophonie Day by enjoying pastries from a local French bakery.
10. French Builds Lifelong Friendships
According to Danielle Donnelly, Assistant Communications Manager, conversing with Francophone friends and listening to their anecdotes can be a powerful learning experience.
“I studied French in high school, middle school, and university, which has taught me a lot, but nothing beats chatting with a native French speaker. My best friend Sarah is from France, and I love speaking to her in her mother tongue—it helps me build my comprehension and speaking skills beyond what I could ever learn in a classroom alone.
She’s always excited to fill me in on current events in France and share personal anecdotes from her daily life. I pick up new words and phrases whenever we chat! Having a personal connection to a French friend has really strengthened my interest in language learning and made me curious to learn more about Francophonie culture across the globe.”
Celebrate International Francophonie Day by speaking with Francophone peers or joining an online French-speaking community!
International Francophonie Day is a great opportunity to reminisce about our experiences with the French language and cultures, and perhaps to plan new adventures, too!
Thanks to our in-house Francophiles for sharing their favorite memories of teaching, studying, and experiencing French.
Do you teach French? Check out our blog post, 3 Easy French Activities for Cultural Immersion, which comes with a free downloadable activity sheet for a music scramble!
Amy is passionate about researching and writing about urgent topics in education to help educators stay up-to-date on the best practices. As a former teacher of English writing, EFL, and ESL, she is dedicated to supporting educators and students.Explore more related to this author
What’s the largest francophone city in the world? It’s not Paris, but Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo in Central Africa.
Myriam Arcangeli, Senior Editorial Manager, French