The Globetrotter’s Guide to Learning French in Africa
Thinking of going abroad to learn French?
It might surprise you to know that a very large portion of Francophone countries in the world is in Africa!
According to L’Organisation internationale de la francophonie (The International Francophone Organization), 44 percent of French speakers live in Africa, making it the continent with the largest number of French speakers.
So now you face another big question: what are your options for learning French in Africa?
- Why Go to Africa to Learn French?
- African Countries That Speak French
- 3 Valuable Opportunities to Learn French in Africa
Why Go to Africa to Learn French?
While it would take us a long time to discuss all of Africa’s amazing attributes, here are just a few reasons why the continent is one to put on any French learner’s must-see list!
First, Africa is an extremely diverse continent full of varying climates and landscapes. You can find everything from tropical forests in French-speaking Benin to the Sahara Desert in Algeria. Not to mention other natural wonders across the continent such as the Serengeti, Mount Kilimanjaro and the Nile river!
Second, since so many different countries have French-speaking populations, you have the freedom to choose the country and natural surroundings that interest you. You can also do a bit of traveling around the continent while you’re there, all the while furthering your goal of practicing and learning French.
Finally, Africa offers new and exciting cultural experiences that differ from those of the Western world where perhaps the majority of prospective French learners will consider going first. Why not discover a place that differs enormously from your own country while learning French at the same time?
African Countries That Speak French
More than 20 of the countries in Africa speak French, largely due to France’s vast colonization on the continent.
These include countries such as Algeria, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Madagascar, Morocco, Rwanda, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast), Gabon, Guinea, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Tunisia.
Of these countries, Gabon comes in first as the African country with the greatest percentage of French speakers (80 percent) with Mauritius taking second at 72.7 percent and Côte d’Ivoire and Senegal tying for third with 70 percent.
3 Valuable Opportunities to Learn French in Africa
The ways to realize your dream of traveling to Africa and learning French are endless. Below are just a few ideas to get you started!
1. Intern in Morocco
Finding an internship in Morocco can be a great way for anyone with wanderlust to discover Africa and learn French.
For starters, Morocco is located at the northern tip of Africa, making it just a short trip away from Europe. You can go from the popular Moroccan city of Marrakesh to iconic Paris, France in just about four hours. In this way, you can have a truly wide-ranging French immersion experience.
Furthermore, French is widely used in commerce and trade in Morocco, which makes the country of extra-special interest if you want to learn business French or plan to use your French to further your career at some point.
The best part is that finding an internship in Morocco isn’t as difficult as you might think. To get started, check out the many opportunities available through Projects Abroad. These include options for teachers, healthcare professionals and students, human rights workers and many more. So no matter what your job is or where your interests lie, you should be able to find an internship in Morocco that works for you.
As an added bonus, you’ll not only learn French and experience a new culture, but add something great to your resume at the same time while maybe even scoring some college credits out of the deal if you’re still a student!
2. Volunteer in Senegal
Beyond the obvious benefits of giving back to a community and developing deep connections within the area in which you’re living, volunteer opportunities are usually practical for language learners because most placements will include housing with local host families.
This means you’ll be immersed in the language day in and day out, and will gain a more authentic cultural experience.
In addition to practicing French in daily life, as it’s the main language spoken in Senegal’s commercial industry and will be necessary when communicating during volunteer hours, most opportunities include options for additional French study.
Finally, if that’s not enough to reel you in, Senegal itself offers a rich cultural experience with its numerous famed beaches and celebrated artistic scene, making it an incredibly vibrant place to live.
Projects Abroad is again a great place to look for this type of opportunity. It offers a four-week intensive language program on Senegal’s Saint Louis Island that includes 60 hours of one-on-one classes before beginning your volunteer project.
There are general volunteer opportunities that include working with local children in need, building and renovating houses or teaching English. You’ll also find some of the more specialized internship opportunities similar to the ones in Morocco.
3. Take Language Courses in Côte d’Ivoire
If you’re looking to learn French through classes as well as through daily life in a French-speaking country, Côte d’Ivoire is perfect for you as it not only has one of the highest levels of French speakers in Africa but is also home to L’Institut Français de Côte d’Ivoire (The French Institute of the Ivory Coast).
They offer French classes at all language levels and have many different course plans so that you can pick the plan that’s affordable for you and works best with your schedule.
What’s more, they offer all of the exams officially recognized by the French government such as the DELF and the DALF. These are helpful if you plan on proving your French level to a university, future employer or government if staying in a foreign French-speaking country for good.
They even go as far as offering the TEF and the TEFAQ for naturalization purposes in France and Canada.
Besides, you really couldn’t pick a better place to take French classes as Côte d’Ivoire has some of the most beautiful beaches, national forests and natural sites in all of Africa!
Of course, you don’t have to wait to get to Africa to start your studies. You can brush up on your French skills and begin your immersion right from home with a program like FluentU. This language learning program uses authentic videos with embedded learning tools to teach the language.
You can prepare to hear real spoken French by watching videos like movie clips, music videos and short documentaries. These videos all have interactive subtitles that show definitions and flashcards at a click. You can save and study flashcards and review them right in the program, as well, to stock up with useful vocabulary words for your trip.
FluentU is available for browser, iOS and Android. It even has a number of examples of African French, like this news clip about Taxijet, the Côte d’Ivoire version of Uber.
With French becoming an increasingly important world language, Africa is a great option to explore when considering to move abroad and learn French.
You’ll get the double benefit of experiencing two cultures at once (a mix of French and local culture) and can pick from tons of places to be stationed.
If you’re looking for a unique cultural experience, Africa truly has some of the best opportunities out there!