French is the second most commonly-taught second language in the world (after English) and maybe it has lost position over the years but it's still a very important language in many fields. People often wonder how many French speakers there are, but a definitive answer is not easy to find. In 1999, French was the 11th most common first language in the world, with 77 million first language speakers and another 51 million second language speaker.
French is spoken officially in 33. This number is second only to English, which is spoken officially in 45 countries. French and English are the only languages spoken as a native language on 5 continents and the only languages taught in every country in the world. In many countries, French plays an important role, either as an administrative, commercial, or international language. French is considered an international language not only because it is spoken in many countries, but also because it is one of the official working languages in many international organizations.