Caption: Suva Grammar School French students with their new text books. Photo: SUPPLIED.
This week French speakers around the globe are celebrating the International French Speakers Week (Semaine de la Francophonie).
The event, created in 1998 as International French-Speakers Day (Journée Internationale de la Francophonie), was a day set aside on which the French-speaking world – some 220 million people across 33 countries on 5 continents – could celebrate their common bond, as well as embrace their diversity.
Here in Fiji from the 11th to the 30th March, the Embassy of France and the Alliance Française de Suva (French Language and Culture Centre) join in with various events organized to promote, encourage and celebrate the French Language.
Events include private French film screenings at Suva Grammar and Marist Brothers High Schools; a Dictation Contest organized at the Fiji National University (FNU) and the University of the South Pacific (USP); as well as movie, quiz and cocktail nights.
“As always, I continue to encourage linguistic integration here in Fiji. This country has a bright future so the opportunities for its young people are endless,” stated Ambassador Montagnier.
“The very first Fijian, a young 21 year old, has just been included in the France 7s team to play in Tokyo this weekend, that’s a perfect example of having the courage to make the most of every opportunity. You have a chance to do so, learn French; it’s a start and who knows…”
French is currently the only European language offered as a course at FNU and USP, as well as at Suva Grammar and Marist Brothers High Schools respectively.
France, through her territories, is a Pacific Island country and learning each other’s language is the first step towards better understanding of each other’s cultures and regional integration.
It is one of the official languages of the United Nations; and, apart from France, is also the official language of 32 states and spoken by 220 million people worldwide – a figure that will continue to increase globally. International Organization of La Francophone (OIF) estimates there will be 715 million French speakers by 2050.