Jean-Benoît Nadeau
Award-winning Author, Expert on French and Spanish Language and Culture

Award-winning author and journalist Jean-Benoît Nadeau is the co-author, with his wife Julie Barlow, of four books on language and culture, including The Bonjour Effect: The Secret Codes of French Conversation Revealed (April 2016), a follow up of their international bestseller Sixty Million Frenchmen Can’t Be Wrong. The couple’s book The Story of French won France’s 2011 Prix de la Renaissance française. The Story of Spanish was praised in The Economist, The Los Angeles Times and The Wall Street Journal.


Known for their wit and their in-depth cross-cultural knowledge, Nadeau and Barlow are popular speakers among audiences interested in travel and international cultures. Together and individually, they have delivered more than a hundred keynote speeches and lectures on culture and language in the United States, Canada, Europe, Japan and South Korea.


Born in Sherbrooke, Quebec, in a French-speaking family, Jean-Benoît Nadeau graduated from McGill University before becoming one of the few journalists in Canada to publish in two languages, English and French. His writing has appeared in newspapers and magazines across Canada, the U.S. and Europe including The New York Times, USA Today, The Christian Science Monitor and Le Courrier international.  Alone, he has written four books and has won two-dozen journalism awards in Canada.


Presently based in Montreal, Barlow and Nadeau lived in Phoenix, Arizona in 2010 for the research on The Story of Spanish. They lived in France from 1999 to 2001 and again, with their twin daughters, in 2013-2014 to research The Bonjour Effect.

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The Bonjour EffectThe Secret Codes of French Conversation Revealed
St. Martin's Press

Ten years after the international success of Sixty Million Frenchmen Can’t Be Wrong, Nadeau and Barlow return with The Bonjour Effect, a captivating, humorous look at why the French love talking so much, and what they really mean.

Hardcover Paperback eBook
St. Martin’s Press

The Story of Spanish shows how a dialect spoken by a handful of shepherds in northern Spain went on to become the world’s second most spoken language and the unofficial second language of the United States. This is the first full “biography” of the Spanish language.

Paperback eBook
St. Martin’s Griffin

In a narrative that spans the times of Charlemagne to the birth of the Cirque du Soleil, Nadeau and Barlow unravel the mysteries of a language that has maintained its global influence despite – or maybe because of – the rise of English.

Paperback eBook
Sixty Million Frenchmen Can't Be WrongWhy We Love France but Not the French

Approaching France like a pair of anthropologists, Nadeau and Barlow use anecdotes and observations, history, political analysis and humor to explain the links between the French national character and the French state. The result is a compelling, fresh take on a country everyone thinks they understand.

The Bonjour Effect The most cherished art of the French is not cuisine – it’s conversation. Even when they speak English, the French have a special way with words. French conversation brings great rewards, but poses many challenges to foreigners. Why do the French say ‘No’ when they mean ‘Yes’? Why do the French put off talking about business until dessert? What exactly are the codes?
French on the Rise News of the death of French has been greatly exaggerated. In 2014, Forbes magazine claimed that among international languages, French had the highest potential for growth. French is seen as a language in decline, but it is growing and spreading – notably in Africa. And while it ranks only ninth for its number of speakers, French remains the world’s second international language.
The Riddles of French When it comes to cultural diversity, freedom of expression or globalization, French society has adapted to political, cultural and economic challenges its own way, maintaining its unique personality and values in the process. In many ways America’s “alter ego," France really does represent something “else.”
I say Spanish, You say Spanglish The United States’ growing Hispanic community is producing something totally unexpected: a new variety of Spanish. It’s not Spanglish. It’s American Spanish. This is just the latest twist in the fascinating story of the how Spanish grew from an obscure dialect to become the world’s third international language and the US’s unofficial second language.
What’s the Best Language to Learn? Spanish? French? Mandarin? German? Arabic? The latest studies show the best language to learn is not just a question of number of speakers, or number of countries where it is spoken. The “best” language to learn depends on what you want to do with it. Some languages have surprising hidden qualities that make them more useful than others.

Praise for Sixty Million Frenchmen Can’t Be Wrong
“..does its job marvelously well.”
The Wall Street Journal

“…should be handed out at Calais and Charles de Gaulle airport.”
The Daily Telegraph

“…a wonderful book…”
The Globe and Mail

Praise for The Story of French
“…a well-told, highly accessible history of the French language that leads to a spirited discussion of the prospects for French in an increasingly English-dominated world.”
The New York Times

“…clearly written, well-organized … an illuminating portrait of Gallic sensibility.”
Publishers Weekly

“…stuffed with surprises, insight and humor…”
The Independent

Praise for The Story of Spanish
“Hats Off!”
The Economist

“…an entirely compelling compendium.”

“… a rich history of the language.”
Hector Tobar, The Los Angeles Times