French Language Day

French Language Day Quick Facts - AU

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2024 Date20 March 2024
2025 Date20 March 2025

French Language Day

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French Language Day History

French Language Day is dedicated to celebrating the historical, cultural, and linguistic influence of the French language. The date, selected by the United Nations, honours multilingualism and cultural diversity, promoting the use of French not just among Francophones, but across various societies worldwide. The observance is an opportunity to acknowledge the significant contribution the French language has made to the international community, whether it be in politics, economics, or the arts, while simultaneously fostering an understanding and appreciation for other cultures.

The French Language Day was established in 2010 by the United Nations as part of a broader initiative to celebrate each of its six official languages. For Australia, the day holds particular importance due to the country's close geographical proximity and cultural ties to many French-speaking Pacific nations such as New Caledonia, Vanuatu, and French Polynesia. Moreover, the French language holds in a significant position within Australia's educational sector. It is one of the most taught languages in schools, fostering connections between Australian and French businesses, academics, and cultural institutions.

The day is commemorated in Australia through various activities that underscore the cultural richness and diversity of the French-speaking world. Institutions and schools often organize events such as language workshops, cultural exhibitions, film screenings, gastronomic events and student exchanges to France. These celebrations aim to foster an appreciation of the French language and culture among Australians, as well as strengthen links between Francophone communities and Australian society. The exact date for the French Language Day in Australia aligns with the global observance, falling on the 20th of March each year.

Facts about French Language Day

  • According to the U.N, French is the 5th most spoken language in the world. It has over 300 million speakers.
  • Decentered, multiplied, creolized as rejoiced Édouard Glissant, the French language is today spoken by nearly 300 million speakers. On this International Day of Francophonie, it is this diversity of destinies, gathered in the language that we share, that we are invited to celebrate - Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO, French Language Day 2018
  • While Australia does not have any historical ties to France in the same way it does with the UK, there are still significant examples of French influence in Australia. For instance, several places in Australia have French names due to early exploration by French seafarers, such as the Freycinet National Park in Tasmania.
  • New Caledonia, a French-speaking territory, is a popular travel destination for Australians due to its proximity to the eastern coast of Australia. It is here where lots of Australians get to use their knowledge of the French language.

Top things to do in Australia for French Language Day

  • Learn how you can support the International Organization of La Francophonie. La Francophonie is an organization that promotes French and aims to implement political, educational, economic, and cultural cooperation within its 88 states and governments.
  • Attend French Film Festivals: Australia hosts an annual Alliance Française French Film Festival, which is one of the most popular celebrations of French culture. The event coincides around the French Language Day. It showcases the best of contemporary French cinema and presents many Australian premieres.
  • Read a book to learn more about the French language:
    The French Presence in Australia - by Ivan Barko
    Unrewarding Wealth: The Commercialization and Collapse of Agriculture in a Spanish Basque Town - by Michael J. Blain
    French Explorers in Australia - by Max Quanchi and John Robson

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