Julie Barlow
Award-winning Author, Expert on French and Spanish Language and Culture

Award-winning author and journalist Julie Barlow is the co-author, with her husband Jean-Benoît Nadeau, of four books on language and culture, including the 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. Their book, The Story of Spanish, was praised in the Economist, the Wall Street Journal and the LA Times. The couple’s  most recent book, The Bonjour Effect: The Secret Codes of French Conversation Revealed, was released in spring 2016.


Born in Ontario, Canada, Julie learned French at age 20 and became one of the few Canadian journalists to publish regularly in the country’s two official languages. She also learned Spanish in her 40s, to write The Story of Spanish. Her writing has appeared in newspapers and magazines across Canada, the U.S. and Europe including The New York Times, USA Today the International Herald Tribune, The Christian Science Monitor and Courier international.  She has been nominated for three Canadian National Magazine Awards and a Grand Prix du Magazine du Québec for her work at Quebec’s public affairs magazine L’actualité, where she has been a contributor for two decades.


Barlow and her husband lived in France in 1999-2001, and returned with their daughters in 2013-2014 to research The Bonjour Effect. Together and separately, they speak about France, the French language and Spanish to audiences in North America, Asia and Europe. The couple is based in Montreal.

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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.

Julie Barlow attended the recent Montreal Holiday Pop-Up Book Fair.

Check out Barlow’s opinion piece in The Gazette on new energy.

Barlow writes articles in the first edition of OC Magazine.

Rick Steves interviewed Barlor on The Bonjour Effect.

Barlow was interviewed by the BBC.

Barlow was interviewed for an article in France-Amérique’s web magazine.

The New York Times Book Review included The Bonjour Effect on Paperback Row.

Read a profile of Barlow and Nadeau in The New York Times.

Check out a review of The Story of French.

The New Yorker’s European correspondant Lauren talks about The Story of French in her essay Love in Translation.

Read Barlow’s interview in the Paris guide BonjourParis.com by American writer Janet Hulstrand.

Learn more about Julie Barlow and Jean-Benoit Nadeau here.

Praise for The Bonjour Effect "The authors clearly had a ball researching the book, and their glee is infectious. The writing is as light as it is substantive, and if that sounds like a contradiction, I would refer you to a soufflé."
New York Times Book Review

The Bonjour Effect is a helpful resource to cracking the arcane cultural code. Engaging and often funny, filled with examples drawn from the authors' experiences, this is a guide to the most essential of French arts: conversation."
–Ann Mah, author of Mastering the Art of French Eating

"Whether “bonjour” is the beginning or the end of your French vocabulary, you’ll find something fascinating, surprising, or just plain fou on nearly every page. Before reading this invaluable codebook to French language and culture, I feared that I’d somehow insulted every French waiter, shopkeeper, and clerk between Paris and Nice. Now I know I did, but at least I know why!"
—William Alexander, author of Flirting with French

"There’s a lot more than irregular verbs in conversing with the French."
—Sonali Karnick, All In a Weekend, CBC Montreal

"A lively and informative description of the country’s cultural habits and social codes. First-time travelers to France will find useful tips, and for most North Americans this is a good introduction to the long history and complex culture of the country."
—Lysiane Gagnon, The Globe and Mail

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