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Signature du Curriculum de francias à Sema, avec le ministre de l'éducation
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The perception of the French language in Colombia

To make its activities more attractive, the Institut français commissioned the IPSOS agency to conduct a large study on the perception of the French language worldwide. On this occasion, the Institut français gives the floor to the six pilot countries of the study to share their methods of teaching the French language. The Institut français of Colombia shares its experience with us. 

Updated on 02/07/2024

5 min

Sébastien Portelli and Maria Fernanda Guerrero represent the team of 19 people that make up the Institut français of Colombia. Both are responsible for the educational and linguistic cooperation sector. They report that the Institut français of Colombia, housed within the French embassy in Colombia, relies on the Colombian network that includes five EFE institutions (two affiliated in Bogotá and Cali and three partner institutions in Bogotá, Medellin, and Pereira) and 13 Alliances françaises, which are the driving forces behind educational cooperation efforts in Bogotá and the regions. 

In Colombia, Francophilia and Francophonie are the products of a long history. The French language was for a long time the main foreign language taught in the education system, and this teaching continued alongside English in a mandatory manner until the mid-1990s. From that period onwards, educational policies have maintained English as the only mandatory foreign language in the education system, yet the attraction to the French language remains strong and even tends to grow. France and Canada are highly coveted countries among the Colombian population. The younger generation sees them as opportunities for pursuing higher education or professional careers. For others, these are countries that must be visited at least once in their lifetime. However, these findings related to perceptions and testimonials remain difficult to quantify and measure. 

Vidéo de l'ambassade de France en Colombie

La France et la Colombie unis pour l'enseignement du français dans les collèges publics du pays
La France et la Colombie unis pour l'enseignement du français dans les collèges publics du pays

The French Embassy in Colombia immediately seized the opportunity given by the Institut français to participate, as a pilot country, in the survey on the perception of the French language and its teaching worldwide. The preparatory work for the implementation of the survey was very smooth, allowing the French team (including the Cultural Cooperation and Action Service, the Institut français of Colombia, Campus France Colombia, the network of Alliances Françaises, and the EFE network) to work together to target the specific questions related to Colombia that needed to be added to the common questionnaire for the six pilot countries. 

The survey results confirmed Colombian francophilia and, more importantly, provided a more nuanced understanding of its various components (strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities). Thanks to the survey, the Institut français of Colombia now has a much sharper vision of the reasons behind the social desire for French education in the country. This insight is valuable for advocating for the development of French language offerings in the education system. They also created a profile (including gender, socio-professional category, age, etc.) of Colombians most likely to take French courses at an Alliance Française. This information is a valuable asset for defining a targeted marketing strategy. Additionally, they now know the main barriers to learning French, enabling them to adjust their course offerings to make them more suitable. They also understand how their network and actions are perceived by the general Colombian public, not just by the already captive audience of learners, teachers, or partners. This will allow them to implement a targeted communication campaign. 

Actions de coopération éducative de l'Institut français de Colombie
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To summarize, the survey will enable the Institut français of Colombia to strengthen their advocacy for the French language, better target their audience, adjust their course offerings if necessary, and, most importantly, communicate more effectively! 

These strategies for leveraging the survey results are currently being developed by the French team, including economic stakeholders. The actions to be implemented will complement the range of actions already deployed or being deployed to enhance the attractiveness of the French language and renew audiences. Notably, here are a few examples: launching a local label for Colombian institutions offering French, introducing the first French curriculum for Colombian schools, better promotion of the Alumni network, integrating Artificial Intelligence into the course offerings of the Alliances Françaises, and establishing a comprehensive communication strategy for the network in Colombia on social media (Institut français of Colombia / Alliances Françaises / Lycées). 

L'institut français, LAB