As I expect was the case for most of us, French was the first language I learned at school (and home). I then did German, and followed this by adding Italian to them both at Uni. I learned Spanish by myself largely for fun and because we had close family friends in Spain whom we visited quite a bit. Later on I lived, worked and did an intensive course in Spain to polish it up. Historically, it seems, French has been the first, and sometimes only, language taught in many UK schools. I can see the reasoning: it was for many years the "diplomatic" language, and "educated people" in Victorian times were supposed to speak it. I expect it was also quite handy in Napoleonic times and even earlier - a way of communicating with and/or spying on the main enemy. Today, if they teach a language at all, many UK primary schools seem to opt for French: in my experience some teach it quite badly, some quite well. A few request specialist secondary teachers to work with them. Generally, if you ask them why they have chosen French, it is normally because they have a teacher or two who did it to GCSE at school themselves and it's therefore the only one they feel they have a shot at doing to any reasonable standard. So, its prevalence, I would suggest, may largely be due to historical factors and I contend that it's well past the time that this was reassessed. Ignoring English of course, of the four other, major, European languages Spanish is by far the most useful in today's world, and assuming that South American growth and influence continues, this status can only be consolidated. I believe that English students also find it relatively easy to learn, in terms of pronunciation, WYSIWYG and basic, logical grammar structure. Even many of the exceptions follow easily-recognizable patterns. Italian is undoubtedly a very beautiful language and is also straightforward to learn and pronounce, but sadly it's hardly particularly useful in terms of its place in the current state of world languages... a far cry from Latin in Roman times, indeed. German is perhaps more difficult in many ways, but once the basic patterns and the structures have been understood, I find that many students like it. Some seem to relish the challenge, and of course its pronunciation isn't tough for English native speakers. Further, given that German uses cases (unlike the other european "majors"), it is useful as a first introduction to such ideas, making easier any later learning of, in particular, Slavic languages, or modern Greek. Whilst it's true that it is not widely spoken in the world outside Germany and Austria, a grasp of it allows an understanding of getting on for 50% of Dutch, and German trade with the UK is still at a high level. Plus, for anyone interested in history and philosophy, clearly the importance of German ideas and activities in the 20th century is immense. So, what about French? Well, if you are at a school in Kent or elsewhere close to the south coast, clearly it's great to be able to pop over the channel, do some shopping and practise the language. Brits, at least from the southern half of the country, also tend to holiday in France, though maybe not as much as in Spain. But in terms of general usefulness in the world today, French has to be so far down the scale as to be almost out of sight. Unless you are in France, or in odd bits of what the French used to call their Empire, it's largely useless. In addition, as a language its grammar is riddled with exceptions and inconsistencies (yes, I know English is too, but that's irrelevant to this discussion). Compare the way the numbers 1-100 work in French with the sheer logic of Spanish and German... Most of all, though, it's hard to pronounce for English speakers. There are sounds that we just don't use, and in many cases trying to produce the correct French accent is something that embarrasses teens and actually puts them off trying - especially that strange, nasal "eeuu" sound. So to conclude, I believe that forward-thinking and outward-looking schools, seeking to create a useful foundation for their students, need to look hard at the range of languages they offer. Given that we already have the massive advantage of English as a mother tongue, Spanish, German, Russian, Arabic, Mandarin and perhaps an Asian language such as Urdu would seem to be among the best choices for today's teens. Learning French in most UK schools these days is, in my view, largely a waste of time and effort, and a historical millstone around the neck of the MFL curriculum.