Language Matters

Kathleen Stein Smith, Ph.D

French President Macron’s state visit to the US

The President of France, Emmanuel Macron, visited the US this week.

The following are just a few of the most interesting articles about his visit —

France’s cultural clout resonates during Macrons’ US trip

French President Emmanuel Macron Addresses The Joint Session Of US Congress | TIME

President Donald Trump, French President Emmanuel Macron hold White House News Conference | NBC News

First lady Melania Trump goes full-on French in Chanel for first Trump state dinner for France                                                  

Languages do matter!




Kathy at the annual ASFAP meeting yesterday in NYC

I was delighted to attend my first annual ASFAP meeting yesterday in NYC highlighted by the participation of French Consul General Anne-Claire Legendre.

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It was a wonderful experience to be included in this conversation among such an impressive group of dedicated and committed French language and Francophone culture educators and advocates.

Many thanks to the French government for having selected me for this honor and special thanks to the ASFAP Board for their warm welcome and for having organized such an interesting, informative, and inspirational event.

The elegant setting and delicious dinner at the Bistro Vendôme made the evening even more memorable.



Parlez-vous Français? French President Macron Urges Increased Global Use of French Language

“Macron vows to re-energise La Francophonie, a formal group of 58 nations across five continents—spanning Canada to Cambodia, Burkina Faso to Belgium—where French is officially or broadly spoken

The benefits of understanding and speaking the French language are vast. Aside from being critically important for diplomacy and global commerce, understanding French is supremely culturally enlightening: “It can enhance your enjoyment of art, history, literature and food… It has native speakers in every region on earth.” French culture certainly captivates a global audience; the heartland, after all, consistently draws millions more tourists annually than any other nation on earth.

As President Macron forges ahead on a series of intense domestic reforms to reshape France’s geopolitical arena, it is clear that the French language is in no danger of disappearing.

Read more @

Languages do matter!

Kathy receives Outstanding Educator Award

I am honored to have received the Educational Opportunity Fund (EOF) Outstanding Educator Award — Fairleigh Dickinson University, Metropolitan Campus at the 44th annual awards ceremony earlier this week. Congratulations to our wonderful EOF students, their families, our EOF staff, and fellow honorees!

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In addition to being a heartfelt send-off for the graduating seniors and the many family members present, it was an inspirational program highlighting the achievements of students in each year of the program. I was happy to see so many familiar faces among the students being recognized.

Before the awards ceremony, I was inducted as an honorary member of the Epsilon Omega Sigma (EOS) Honor Society, which recognizes the academic achievement of FDU students in the EOF program.

The ballroom at the Park Ridge Marriott was a lovely and elegant setting,  filled with students, family members, and Metro campus faculty and staff.

Many thanks to the EOF staff for their dedication and professionalism, and for having selected me for this honor, and congratulations on this wonderfully successful and well-attended event.  Congratulations to my fellow honorees and best wishes to the graduating seniors.

Over 26,000 views for Language Matters — Thank You!!!

Over 26,000 views for Language Matters — Thank You!!!

Many thanks to all of you who have taken the time to view Language Matters.

Languages do matter!



Switzerland’s invisible linguistic borders

“Multilingualism is to Switzerland what politeness is to the British or style to the Italians: a deep source of national pride.

There are four official Swiss languages: German, French, Italian and Romansh, an indigenous language with limited status that’s similar to Latin and spoken today by only a handful of Swiss.”

Read more @

Languages do matter!

Foreign Languages: A World of Possibilities — my new article

“Foreign Languages: A World of Possibilities” — my article in the December 2017 issue of the International Journal of Languages & Linguistics.

IJLL cover

Read more @

Languages do matter!


Macron unveils strategy to promote French language

“President Emmanuel Macron, whose mastery of English is unprecedented among French leaders, will on Tuesday unveil his strategy to promote his native language, aiming to make it the first language in Africa, ‘maybe even the world’.

On Tuesday, International Francophonie Day, he will set out his plan to improve the standing of French, the world’s fifth most spoken language.”

Read more @

Languages do matter!

Are Lithuanians obsessed with bees? Lithuanian, the most conservative of all Indo-European languages, is riddled with references to bees.

“Lithuanian, the most conservative of all Indo-European languages, is riddled with references to bees.

But the fact that these references to bees have been preserved over hundreds of years demonstrates something rather interesting about the Lithuanian language: according to the Lithuanian Quarterly Journal of Arts and Sciences, it’s the most conservative of all living Indo-European languages. While its grammar, vocabulary and characteristic sounds have changed over time, they’ve done so only very slowly. For this reason, the Lithuanian language is of enormous use to researchers trying to reconstruct Proto-Indo-European, the single language, spoken around four to five millennia ago, that was the progenitor of tongues as diverse as English, Armenian, Italian and Bengali.”

Read more @

Languages do matter!

Foreign Language Education in the US — My Cross Country Travels — Presenting/Participating at MLA, NECTFL, SWCOLT, CSCTFL, and SCOLT

I was honored this year to have been invited to present at the 2018 MLA conference in New York, and the annual regional councils of SWCOLT, CSCTFL, and SCOLT (in chronological order). I attended NECTFL as a member of the Advisory Council and of the l’Ordre des Palmes académiques, CSCTFL as an member of the Advisory Council, and SCOLT as a Sponsor.

conferences 2018

My conference travels took me from my NYC-area home to Santa Fe, Milwaukee, and Atlanta to present on the role of foreign language advocacy in supporting both proficiency and the personal and professional empowerment that stems from foreign language skills, to listen to and learn from dedicated foreign language educators from across the country, and to make new friends for French/foreign language advocacy.

While the enthusiasm, dedication, and professionalism of the foreign language educators at each of these conferences were inspirational, the lack of foreign language learning among US students is a cause for concern within the profession and beyond. With fewer than 20% of US K-12 students studying a foreign language, and only 7.5% of college and university students enrolled in a course in a language other than English, the US foreign language deficit has not been addressed, despite our best efforts.

The programs differed somewhat, based on the conference theme and local interests, but I came away encouraged by the emphasis on proficiency, and on linguistic and cultural skills. In addition, the increasing interest in and support for immersion programs as a complement to traditional foreign language education, and especially, the number of sessions on advocacy, give hope for the future.

Advocacy, with its proactive role in “defense” of foreign language learning, and its collaborative nature as a stakeholder partnership including parents and communities, business and government, and educators, is both the foundation for a resurgence of foreign language learning in the US, and the means to achieve it.

Languages do matter!


Essential Reading

The Bilingual Revolution (2017). By Fabrice Jaumont. TBR Books.

Enrollments in Languages Other Than English in United States Institutions of Higher Education (2018).

Foreign Languages in Higher Education: New Structures for a Changed World (2007).

The National K-12 Foreign Language Enrollment Survey (2017).