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Interview
French language

Federating the network of French teachers around the world: interview with Cynthia Eid

Our actions in 2024 are driven by a clear vision: to strengthen the global network of French teachers, encourage exchanges, broaden our collaborations and promote a dynamic, inclusive and modern Francophonie.

Elected in 2021, Cynthia Eid is the first woman to be president of the International Federation of French Teachers  (FIPF), which the Institut français supports as part of its action to promote the French language and the Francophonie. French teacher from French-speaking Canada, who has lived in France for 8 years, Cynthia Eid talks to us about the national and international initiatives carried out by nearly 80,000 volunteer teachers around the world on the occasion of FIPF's 55th anniversary. 

Updated on 23/04/2024

2 min

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Crédits
© DR

Could you tell us about FIPF?

The International Federation of French Teachers, or FIPF, was founded in 1969. Its main mission is to promote the French language internationally, by stimulating the worldwide network of associations of teachers "of" and "in" French. This network is made up of 293 local and national associations, representing 80,000 teachers in over 125 countries on five continents. In France, three associations are members.

By putting its expertise, resources and teaching practices at the service of the international community of teachers "of" and "in" French, the FIPF has placed itself as a pillar of the French-speaking world, and is therefore open to anyone with an interest in the French language and French-speaking cultures. It is the driving force behind the 331 million French speakers around the world.

 

What flagship programmes, projects and meetings will mark 2024?

3 major initiatives will mark 2024.

The first one is the organisation of a global survey on French teachers around the world. We wanted to have a better understanding of their training needs and the many challenges they face in each professional context. The aim was to enable FIPF to better support associations in their development. The results will be made public at our next world congress, to be held in Besançon in 2025.

The second major initiative is called "100 métiers du français", and aims to promote the diversity of careers that can be possible through French language knowledge. Around a hundred freely accessible job descriptions will highlight the career opportunities associated to studying French as a foreign language. This project is an answer to the fact that many teachers are leaving the profession, particularly at the beginning of their careers. Despite the love of language, the profession is disenchanting. It's difficult and precarious. We have therefore tried to offer alternatives to these students or people undergoing retraining, so that they can remain part of the French-speaking family without necessarily teaching French. The sectors that are proposed cover a wide spectrum, from tourism to publishing.

The FIPF has placed itself as a pillar of the French-speaking world, and is therefore open to anyone with an interest in the French language and French-speaking cultures.

The third highlight will be our two annual regional conferences. The first will be held in Kampala, Uganda, from 22 to 26 July, and the second in Bucharest, Romania, from 4 to 7 September. By bringing together teachers and those involved in promoting French, they will provide an invaluable platform for discussing issues relating to the French language in the host regions - in this case, Africa and Europe. On a broader scale, our ambition is to strengthen the network of associations by making it more professional. Because being a volunteer doesn't mean you're not a professional. There will also be a day dedicated to young teachers. They are the next generation of teachers, and it is important to offer them a forum to exchange. 400 people are expected in Kampala, and nearly 1,000 in Bucharest. 

 

What are the guidelines of these initiatives?

Our actions in 2024 are driven by a clear vision: to strengthen the global network of French teachers, encourage exchanges, broaden our collaborations and promote a dynamic, inclusive and modern Francophonie. 

  • Strengthen our worldwide network by mobilising teachers and their associations towards the universal teaching of French. 
  • Encourage exchanges by supporting associations in their role as influencers of language policies. 
  • To broaden our collaborations with the aim of creating a more coherent and interactive network, rooted in local professional realities. 
  • Promote a dynamic, inclusive and modern Francophonie by offering our support to multilingual and multicultural education, by including more young teachers in the network, and by developing new digital services. 

 

March to October is a key time to promote the French language and Francophone cultures, with France hosting the XIXth Francophonie Summit, alongside an exclusive Francophonie Festival entitled "Refaire le monde". How are you going to contribute to this unique programme? 

We are keen to highlight the French language and Francophone cultures during the Festival de la Francophonie through three key operations: the organisation of an educational residence, an international eloquence competition and the sixth International Day of French Teachers. 

The teaching residency will be hosted by the Cité internationale de la langue française in Villers-Cotterêts, and will aim to enhance teachers' skills in creating teaching materials. It will benefit around fifty teachers of French from all over the world, representing the eight FIPF regional commissions, including Latin America and the Caribbean, Asia-Pacific, Africa and the Indian Ocean. 

We are keen to highlight the French language and Francophone cultures during the Festival de la Francophonie.

An international eloquence competition, organised in conjunction with AMOPA - l'Association des Membres de l'Ordre des Palmes Académiques - was also launched on 15 April. Focusing on the Olympic values, it brings together pairs of teachers and learners of and in French, embodying the linguistic and cultural diversity of the French-speaking world. 

In addition, the International Day of French teachers will be celebrated on 21 November. After the patronage of the Senegalese statesman Abdou Diouf in 2022, and the academician Dany Laferrière in 2023, we are actively working to find a patron for this sixth edition, who, in line with the Olympic Games 2024, will come from the world of sport. 

 

The next FIPF World Congress will be held in Besançon in 2025, at the Centre de Linguistique Appliquée (CLA). How did you make this choice ? 

The choice was made in 2021, at the last World Congress. For the 2025 event, two candidates stood out: Brazil and France. After an in-depth examination of the proposals, a vote has been held by the FIPF Board. The application submitted by the Association Française des Enseignants de Français (AFEF) was finally selected, by just two votes. The AFEF and the FIPF, which are responsible for organising the next world congress, then entered into a partnership with the Centre de Linguistique Appliquée (CLA) and the town of Besançon, which will benefit 2,000 teachers of French in the summer of 2025. By choosing Besançon, the World Congress of French Teachers is embracing the ideals of a region that is committed to social issues and the fight for equality. As the birthplace and home of famous artists and writers, this region also bore the great utopias of the 19th and 20th centuries. 

L'institut français, LAB