French in the British Isles by Viv Edwards
French is spoken by an estimated 128 million people worldwide. It is the official - or co-official - language of France and 24 other countries, including Canada, Switzerland and Senegal. There are also French speaking communities in Lebanon, Cambodia, Egypt, India, Italy Laos, Mauritania, Guernsey, Jersey and Sark, the USA, Vietnam, Russia, and the Czech Republic. It is used as an administrative language in organizations such as the United Nations and the European Union.Since the seventeenth century, the Académie française (French Academy) has been concerned with the regulation of the French language. Part of its current remit is to counteract franglais or the increasing use of English words in every day French. The French expression logiciel, for instance, is preferred to the English software.There are important French communities in London, especially in Croydon and Lewisham where French is the third most common language spoken by school children. There are also opportunities for children to be educated through the medium of French at one of five French primary schools and one secondary school in London.French is by far the most commonly taught language in UK secondary schools. It is also the main language taught at primary schools where the interest in modern languages has grown considerably in recent years. The Alliance Française, the world's largest French teaching association, has a network of 14 schools and 50 or so clubs in the UK with the aim of increasing access to French language and culture.