Language Matters

Kathleen Stein Smith, Ph.D

Over 13,000 Views of My TEDx talk on the US Foreign Language Deficit — Thank you!!!

Over 13,000 views of my TEDx talk on the US foreign language deficit — Thank you!!!

Languages do matter!

Kathy Attending and Presenting at CSCTFL 2019 in Columbus

I was delighted to attend the CSCTFL 2019 Conference in Columbus, Ohio, this weekend as both a member of the Advisory Council and as a presenter, and so happy to have been invited to present on “Foreign Language Advocacy: Building a Bridge to Empowerment through Proficiency.”

CSCTFL 2019 03-16-19

I was so impressed by the scope of the program that I attended as many sessions as I could, as well as the extensive exhibit hall. After arriving on Friday morning, I attended the AATF-Ohio annual meeting, visited with friends at the AATF table, and attended sessions throughout the day on Friday and Saturday — on authentic audio, engaging and empowering language learners, “advocacy now,” facilitating change, implementing the recommendations of the Commission on Language Learning, creating your own world language immersion day, and building bridges within the language department.

Key takeaways for me are the increasing importance of advocacy at all levels and of a cohesive and collaborative department. I thoroughly enjoyed the presentation on the immersion day imagined and implemented at a local high school, with all the creativity and planning that were necessary.

Many thanks to CSCTFL for inviting me to present and special thanks to everyone who attended my session.

Congratulations to the conference organizers on this wonderful start to CSCTFL’s next 50 years!

The setting for the conference at the Downtown Hilton and the Greater Columbus Convention Center was appealing, convenient, and comfortable for viewing the exhibits, attending sessions, and chatting with friends old and new.

As always, CSCTFL has lived up to and surpassed its tradition as “the friendly conference.”

Languages do matter!

Kathy presenting at the FLAME 2019 conference in Portland, Maine

I am so happy to have been selected to present at the FLAME 2019 (Foreign Language Association of Maine) conference in Portland, Maine, on “Foreign Language Skills as Student Empowerment: The Role of Advocacy.”

FLAME 03-08-19 10

After a return to the gate due to mechanical problems at Newark early Friday morning, I arrived in scenic and historic Portland and was able to attend the FLAME luncheon/business meeting and saw AATF-Maine President Nathalie Gorey receive the FLAME leadership award.

I was delighted to be invited to the AATF-Maine meeting, where I was impressed by their wide range of activities and initiatives — I was especially intrigued by a planned trip this summer to Saint-Pierre and Miquelon, nearby islands just off the coast which are actually part of Metropolitan France.

The vibrant French heritage of the region and the lovely setting “by the bay” only added to the impressiveness of this well-organized and well-attended conference.

Many thanks to the Maine foreign language educators who attended my presentation, and special thanks to the conference organizers who invited me to present.

Congratulations to AATF-Maine for the wonderful work that they do, and special congratulations to Nathalie Gorey on receiving the FLAME leadership award.

Languages do matter!





Radio Interviews, a Book Review, and More — Kathy’s February Update

February has been a busy and exciting month in terms of foreign language advocacy, with both publications and opportunities to speak out.
I am happy to share with you that I was interviewed on WNYC’s “The Takeaway” on the importance of foreign language learning.
You can listen to the segment, which aired on February 19th,  @
KSS and Tanzina Vega 02-19-19
I had an article,  “Foreign Language Classes Becoming More Scarce,” published on February 6th,  in The Conversation  @
followed by an interview on February 7th,  on Wisconsin Public Radio that you can listen to @
In addition, I was so happy to have two publications this month.
My review of  The Bilingual Revolution: The Future of Education Is in Two Languages, by Fabrice Jaumont, was published in the current January 2019 issue of GSLR: Global Studies Literature Review, a NAFSA publication @,_January_2019/
I was also included in the “So You Say” in the current February/March issue of Language Educator, an ACTFL publication @
Early in the month I attended the NECTFL Conference, Palmes luncheon, and the AATF Region II meeting at Albertine.
Many thanks to all the readers and viewers, and special thanks to the editors and producers.
Languages do matter!

What to do when hygge no longer works

“Danes, often hailed as some of the happiest people on Earth, love nothing more than to hygge. But what do they do then when things aren’t so cosy? They say the magical word: ‘pyt’.”

Read more @

Languages do matter!

Kathy’s interview @ WNYC radio’s “The Takeaway”

I am so happy to share with you that I was interviewed on the importance of foreign language learning on WNYC radio’s “The Takeaway” by show host Tanzina Vega.

It was a wonderful opportunity to get the word out, especially to parents and communities, not only in the NYC area, but in all the locations throughout the country where “The Takeaway” airs.

KSS and Tanzina Vega 02-19-19

While waiting in the “green room,” I had a chance to view the wide range of activities at a busy, and prestigious, radio station on a weekday morning, and I was impressed by the many plaques and trophies for awards won that were on display.

Many thanks to the entire team at WNYC for their warm welcome and for making me feel at home, and special thanks to Tanzina Vega for a wonderful conversation and to producer Alexandra Botti for reaching out to me, for the follow-up, and for the great photos!  🙂

You can listen to the segment @

Languages do matter!


Foreign Language Advocacy Is for Everyone – Ensuring That All Our Students Have the Opportunity to Learn Another Language

I am so happy to have had the opportunity to discuss Language Advocacy Month – February — and other ACTFL (American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages) initiatives recently with ACTFL Executive Director, Howie Berman.

With its membership of 12,500 foreign language educators, along with stakeholders and supporters in business and government, ACTFL is a leading voice in foreign language education and foreign language advocacy in the US.


In addition to specifically highlighting advocacy and advocacy initiatives at all levels during the month of February, the new Executive Director discussed Educators Rising, a program intended to increase awareness of foreign language education as a possible career choice among students, to recognize student effort and achievement, to encourage those who may be interested, and to empower them through knowledge and information about the profession. This program, with college scholarships available for high school seniors,  is especially important in terms of building language teaching capacity in the US, along with encouraging language students through recognition of the effort and achievement, and  strengthening the relationship between language teachers and students.

In addition to career options in foreign language education, ACTFL has recently conducted a survey of US businesses of all sizes in order to determine to what extent businesses, both globally and locally, are impacted by the lack of foreign language skills in the workplace, findings of which are expected to be released shortly.

At this time, when foreign language enrollment is decreasing in our colleges and universities, and where the number of foreign language programs in the elementary and middle schools have declined, it is more important than ever for all of us who believe in the importance of foreign language learning to participate in this public conversation about foreign language learning, and to support local, state, regional, and national foreign language advocacy initiatives.

Advocacy is a broad umbrella, and it is important for all of us to get involved in the advocacy activity that resonates with us personally and professionally, which can be a particular language, grade level, methodology, or geographic area, etc., using the skills and funding available.

However, recent reports have confirmed that opportunities for US students may be at risk at all levels, just as language skills are increasingly important in the workplace.  In addition to local and specific concerns, it is of critical importance that we support foreign language advocacy at the national level, through ACTFL’s Lead with Languages campaign and other associated initiatives, and through active participation in the work of national associations like AATF (American Association of Teachers of French), NNELL (National Network for Early Language Learning), and many others.

In addition to ACTFL, other national organizations actively advocating for foreign languages include the MLA (Modern Language Association), specifically the ADFL (Association of Departments of Foreign Languages), the AATF, through its national organization, its state and regional levels, and its national Commission on Advocacy, and others. JNCL-NCLIS (The Joint National Committee for Languages – National Council for Languages and International Studies) represents over 100 organizations and is known for its annual Language Advocacy Day.

At the regional and state level, many of the professional associations provide information on advocacy to members through their websites, and many also include advocacy groups, active especially in state or regional issues.

Let’s all “Lead with Languages” and make sure all our students have the opportunity to learn another language!


To find out more about ACTFL and ACTFL initiatives –








Kathy’s GSLR review essay on “The Bilingual Revolution: The Future of Education Is in Two Languages,” by Fabrice Jaumont

So happy that my review essay, “The Bilingual Approach: Foreign Language Education for the Twenty-First Century,” a review of The Bilingual Revolution: The Future of Education Is in Two Languages, by Fabrice Jaumont —  has been published in GSLR: Global Studies Literature Review, a NAFSA publication.

GSLR 02-11-19

“Jaumont weaves a story of the necessity of bilingualism in a globalized world and the importance of beginning language learning in the earliest grades, with the power of parental and community engagement and activism. The principle of equity and the role of public schools, as well as the very real challenges of developing curricula and teacher training, are examined with the experience and vision of leadership and advocacy.

Key concepts include immersion as a foreign language education methodology, an early start
to continued learning of one or more languages, and—most importantly—the partnership between
international educators and foreign language educators. The Bilingual Revolution is a valuable guide for every foreign language educator seeking to empower, educate, and engage stakeholders about the power of foreign language education in a globalized world.”

Congratulations to the author, Fabrice Jaumont, and to all the reviewers featured in the issue, and special thanks to Rebecca Hovey for her advice and guidance throughout the process.

Languages do matter!

Kathy at NECTFL 2019, the Palmes luncheon, and the AATF Region II meeting at Albertine

After arriving at the NECTFL 2019 Conference, I attended interesting and informative sessions on using authentic resources, including news broadcasts in the target languages, in class, and on drawing inspiration from the Francophone world in the French language classroom.

I visited the exhibit hall which was impressive, and very well-attended.

The conference was a wonderful opportunity to meet old friends and to make new ones. The NYC setting was perfect, and the rainy morning gave way to blue skies and brilliant midwinter sunshine from noon on, making it a great day to walk to each event.NECTFL 02-08-19

Congratulations to NECTFL on yet another successful annual conference, and special congratulations to Sister Mary Helen Kashuba on receiving the NECTFL outstanding leadership award.

Many thanks to Jacqueline Friedman for organizing the Palmes Académiques luncheon at La Bonne Soupe and to Diane Paravazian for inviting me to the AATF Region II meeting.

Special thanks to Cultural Counselor Bénédicte de Montlaur and Education Attaché Karl Cogard for their warm welcome to the beautiful Albertine and for their support of French language learning in the US.

What a wonderful day for French language advocacy in the heart of NYC, throughout the Northeast, and beyond.

Languages do matter!

Fewer Foreign Language Options In Schools — Kathy on Wisconsin Public Radio

“American colleges have dropped hundreds of foreign language programs from their curriculum in recent years. We talk with a guest who says now is the time when we need them most.”

Special thanks to WPR for the opportunity to discuss the importance of foreign language learning.

Listen @

Languages do matter!