Language Matters

Kathleen Stein Smith, Ph.D

Estadio Azteca: A Study — Mark Connolly’s Corner

Whether you’ve been targeting the date since the spring or just noticed looking ahead at the Week 11 matchups, you now know the New England Patriots are playing the Oakland Raiders in La Ciudad de México this Sunday. The game will be played in Estadio Azteca, one of the truly legendary venues in global sport. […]

via Estadio Azteca: A Study — Mark Connolly’s Corner


Over 23,000 Views for “Language Matters” — Thank You!!!

Over 23,000 views!!!  Many thanks to all of you who have taken the time to view “Language Matters.”

Languages do matter!

The Polish Phrase That Will Help You through Tough Times

“In Poland, the concept of ‘Jakoś to będzie’ is acting without worrying about the consequences. It’s reaching for the impossible. It’s taking risks, and not being afraid.

And yet, despite the traumatic history, Polish people remain optimistic.

Growing up in Poland, I often heard people say ‘Jakoś to będzie’ (pronounced ‘Ya-kosh toe ben-jay’). My parents said it to me whenever I was worried about something, and I always thought it was very encouraging. Literally, the phrase means ‘things will work out in the end’ – but it’s so much more than that. Rather than sitting around and hoping things will work out by themselves, ‘Jakoś to będzie’ is acting without worrying about the consequences. It’s reaching for the impossible. It’s taking risks, and not being afraid.”

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Languages do matter!

Kathy presenting @ the NAFSA e-seminar on “Global Learning in Foreign Language Instruction: More Than Just Talk”

Yesterday I participated as a presenter in the NAFSA e-seminar on “Global Learning in Foreign Language Instruction: More Than Just Talk,” part of the series on Architecture for Global Learning.  It was a wonderful opportunity to interact with foreign language and international educators from a wide variety of locations and institutions.

My presentation was on Multilingualism, Global Citizenship, and the Sustainable Development Goals: Implications for Foreign Language Education and Advocacy, in which I discussed the Many Languages One World Essay Contest and Global Youth Forum (MLOW) in terms of both the significance of multilingualism in global citizenship and its implications for foreign language educators and advocates.

While the MLOW essay contest winners, who are brought to the US to participate in a week-long global youth forum before presenting at the United Nations in the General Assembly Hall, have impressive foreign language skills, often in multiple languages, the event highlights the use of these skills as tool to work together in transnational teams to effectively address complex global issues.

Implications for foreign language and international educators are clear.

Too few US students study foreign languages, and those who do often fail to reach proficiency or fluency, experiencing the frustration of not having the foreign language skills needed to actually use their language(s) to work with others, to negotiate, to influence, and to persuade — in other words, to make a difference, and to make our world a better place.

Solutions are just as clear.

An earlier start to foreign language learning, especially in an immersive setting, and building on any existing heritage language skills, is essential, and a wonderful example is New York City’s révolution bilingue.  In addition, effective foreign language education inspired by the goals of “translingual and transcultural” competence, as articulated in the MLA’s Foreign Languages and Higher Education:  New Structures for a Changed World, would provide the framework for both the foreign language skills and cultural knowledge needed in our multilingual world and workplace.

In addition to this event, I was also delighted at the opportunity to support NAFSA in its work.

Special thanks to Sarah and Mark for having invited me to participate as a presenter and for their support and guidance, and many thanks to Mario, my co-presenter, to the BlueSky staff, and to all those who attended the live event.

Languages do matter!

Kathy @ the NYC Bilingual Fair

I had the opportunity yesterday to attend and to participate in a panel discussion at the NYC Bilingual Fair, held this year at Fordham University, Lincoln Center, in its beautiful new law school building.

I was delighted to have been invited to participate in a panel discussion on “Bilingualism in the Globalized Workplace” and to serve as a member of the committee to evaluate the essays of the finalists in the French Morning Essay Contest, for middle and high school students on the topic “How does being bilingual make you different, shape you or define who you are?”

The quote on the entrance banner — “The limits of my language are the limits of my world” — set the stage for a day devoted to discussion and demonstration of the benefits of bilingualism and of the opportunities available for children in the NYC area.

After visiting the impressive exhibit area where I was able to chat with representatives of bilingual programs offering a variety of language combinations, I attended the keynote address, followed by the essay contest awards ceremony.  As a member of the committee that evaluated the finalists’ essays, I was more than delighted to meet them and to congratulate them all on their wonderful essays and on their amazing foreign language skills. I then attended a fascinating panel discussion featuring recent high school graduates who described how bilingualism had impacted their lives, followed by a discussion of the recently-published The Bilingual Revolution:  The Future of Education Is in Two Languages, and a panel comparing bilingual education in Europe and in the U.S., followed by my own panel on bilingualism in the globalized workplace.

Special thanks to Emmanuel for having invited me to both participate in a panel discussion and to serve on the essay evaluation committee, and to Andrew and Fabrice, my fellow  committee members.  Many thanks to Susan and Elizabeth, my fellow panelists, and to Charlotte and Benjamin, members of the French Morning team.

Languages do matter!





How Halloween Is Celebrated around the World

“Halloween may be one of the biggest holidays in America, but the holiday, or versions of it, has a history all over the world.

From Ireland to Haiti, countries across the globe have their own festivals celebrating the afterlife, and the practices vary wildly from nation to nation.”

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Languages do matter!

Kathy @ the MCTLC Conference in Minneapolis

I am just back from the MCTLC (Minnesota Council on the Teaching of Languages and Cultures) Fall Conference where I presented on “Foreign Language as a Global Competency,” the area of my doctoral research and subsequent research and writing.

Flying out of NJ early on Friday, I arrived at the beautiful and historic Earle Brown Heritage Center in time to attend the inspirational keynote address on the revitalization of endangered indigenous languages, which emphasized the impact of language loss on a people and a culture. Although the address described an Ojibwe immersion program, it transcended the local,  causing me to see connections with  examples in my own personal experience — the historical suppression of the Irish language, the journey of the French language in North America, and the relatively rapid loss of language experienced by so many immigrant groups, including the German of my father’s family.

It is my personal and professional belief that immersion programs, such as the one described by the keynote speaker, as well as those in the NYC public schools often referred to as the “bilingual revolution,” and in other locations across the US and beyond, are critical in staving off, and even reversing, language loss.

After visiting with my AATF Minnesota friends at their table and enjoying the exhibit area, I attended several sessions throughout the day, as well as the awards luncheon before delivering my own presentation in the late afternoon.  Although it was difficult to choose among the many sessions offered, I found the session on authentic texts and tasks in the French language classroom, the session on integrating technology in order to increase student engagement and achievement in the foreign language classroom, and session on Twitter for language teachers interesting, well prepared, and well presented.  In addition to being an opportunity to talk with like-minded foreign language educators, the awards luncheon was especially inspiring in the authenticity and depth of feeling I observed among the presenters, the recipients, and the many foreign language education students present.

The snowy weather contrasted with the warm welcome I received from the many MCTLC members, organizers, and student volunteers I had the opportunity to meet that day.

Special thanks to Daryl and Lisa at MCTLC for having inspired me to submit a proposal, and to Lily, my presider and a Fulbright student from Paris at the U. of St. Thomas. Many thanks to those who took the time on Friday afternoon to attend my presentation on the Many Languages One World Essay Contest and Global Youth Forum (MLOW).

Languages do matter!

The French language is in ‘mortal danger’, say its own panicked guardians

“The official guardians of the French tongue the Académie Française sounded the alarm bell this week saying the language was in “mortal danger”. And it’s nothing to do with English this time.

The so-called “immortals” at the Académie Française, the official body tasked with guarding the French language from unwanted influences (like English) don’t speak out often, but when they do people tend to listen.
And on Thursday night the Académie issued a “solemn warning” intended to grab the attention of the government.
The immortals are furious about the rise of so-called “inclusive writing” which basically puts the masculine AND feminine forms of nouns in the text.”

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Languages do matter!

Pakistan’s only sign language cafe

“This cafe in Pakistan is one of a kind. To get served you have to use sign language. It’s run by the Raza family: Mum, dad and brothers are deaf or partially hearing.

They say they’ve experienced challenges in the country and the cafe is changing attitudes.”

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Languages do matter!

Irish PM vows to improve French before Ireland ‘officially’ joins Francophonie

“Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar has promised to improve his French language skills before Ireland “officially” joins the Francophonie.

Varadkar made the light-hearted remark during a speech on Tuesday (October 24) at the Elysee Palace in Paris alongside French Prime Minister Emmanuel Macron.

The Irish leader earned a ‘bravo’ from Macron for conducting a large portion of his speech in French.”

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Languages do matter!