Language Matters

Kathleen Stein Smith, Ph.D

Kathy at the French American Academy Open House

I attended the Open House of the French American Academy, located in New Milford, NJ, yesterday, and came away impressed and inspired by this treasure in North Jersey.

faa 01-12-19 6

One of two campuses located just outside New York City, the New Milford campus offers a pre-K — 5 program, as well as Saturday classes for students not currently enrolled, but interested in developing French language bilingual skills.

Students also have the possibility of continuing their program through Grade 8 at the Jersey City campus, with transportation available, which allows ample time and opportunity to develop both language proficiency and intercultural knowledge.

In addition to the academic program, students have summer camp and travel opportunities, and the Academy has a relationship with a school in Haiti.

Located in a lovely residential neighborhood, the school was spacious, bright, and vibrant with student artwork.

Many thanks to the entire faculty and staff for their warm welcome, especially to Cathy Joly, Admissions Director; Jeremie Peyre, Principal; and Marion Nordin, 3rd Grade teacher — dedicated French language and bilingual educators, all.

Special thanks to Anne-Sophie Gueguen, Founder and Director, who graciously welcomed me, answered my many questions, and toured the entire school with me.

The French American Academy is a wonderful example of bilingual and immersion education, and an opportunity for families in the NYC Metro area, whether Francophone, Francophile, or not, to offer the gift of bilingualism to their children.

Read more at the French American Academy website @

Languages do matter!




Kathy’s newest book — The Gift of Languages: Paradigm Shift in U.S. Foreign Language Education.

I am delighted to share with you that my newest book, The Gift of Languages: Paradigm Shift in U.S. Foreign Language Education, co-authored with Fabrice Jaumont, and part of the Bilingual Revolution series, has been published by TBR Books, a program of the Center for the Advancement of Languages, Education, and Communities (CALEC).

book cover 01-06-19

You can read more about it @

or on Amazon.





Languages do matter!






Kathy Presenting on Foreign Language Advocacy at the MLA 2019 Convention in Chicago

I am so happy to have had the opportunity to present on “Advocacy and Languages across the K-16 Continuum” as a participant in the panel discussion on “Promoting Language Study in Public Discourse” at the MLA 2019 Convention in Chicago this week.

mla pres 01-04-19

In addition to my own panel, there were so many interesting sessions to choose from!

I attended sessions on mentoring job seekers in languages, teaching French women writers, translingual writing by French and Francophone authors, and on demonstration interviews in languages.

It was wonderful to have an opportunity to hear so many wonderful speakers, to interact with colleagues from across the country and beyond, and to meet so many young people passionate about the humanities.

The conference was well planned and organized, and its setting on the banks of the Chicago River was beautiful, with dramatic views of the city throughout the day and evening.

Many thanks to my fellow panelists and to all who attended my presentation, and special thanks to Dennis Looney and to Gary Schmidt for the opportunity to participate in this very important conversation on foreign language advocacy.

Languages do matter!

Bonne Année à tous mes amis

Bonne Année à tous mes amis

bonne annee 2019

Joyeux Noël à tous mes amis!

Joyeux Noël à tous mes amis!


Kathy’s Year-End Update — 2018

The highlight of 2018 for me was being honored by the French government with the Chevalier des Palmes académiques decoration which I received from French Cultural Counselor Bénédicte de Montlaur on April 27th at Albertine in NYC.

Palmes deco 04-27-18 2

Throughout 2018, in recognition of the honor bestowed upon me by the French government, it has been my privilege to redouble my efforts to advocate for French language and Francophone culture in the United States.

My goal has been to continue my advocacy efforts through both professional engagement and research, writing, and publication in alignment with the mission of the AATF Commission on Advocacy, of which I serve in my second term as Chair, and in response to the pressing need to effectively address the US foreign language deficit.

In addition, I was delighted to be honored with the Outstanding Educator Award by the Educational Opportunity Fund, Fairleigh Dickinson University, Metropolitan Campus. (Apr 2018)

Other milestones include over 30K views of — and over 20K visitors to — my Language Matters blog, over 3K downloads of my most recent book, The U.S. Foreign Language Deficit: Strategies for Maintaining a Competitive Edge in a Globalized World, over 12.5K views of my TEDx talk on the U.S. foreign language deficit, and the presence of nearly 750 copies of my books in Worldcat libraries.

I would like to thank all of you who encouraged and supported my efforts this year and who attended my presentations, as well as all of you who have liked and followed both my personal and AATF Commission on Advocacy Facebook and Twitter pages (the AATF Commission on Advocacy Twitter page new in 2018).

Coming Soon!  My newest book, The Gift of Languages: Paradigm Shift in U.S. Foreign Language Education, co-authored with Fabrice Jaumont.  Find out more @

  • Presentations and Professional Engagement (in chronological order)

In January, I participated in a panel discussion on college foreign language requirements at the Modern Language Association (MLA) Conference in NYC.

In February, I attended the Northeast Conference on Foreign Language (NECTFL) Conference and attended the luncheon meeting of the American Society of the French Academic Palms (ASFAP).  I was delighted to present on foreign language advocacy at the Southwest Conference on Language teaching (SWCOLT) Conference in Santa Fe in February.

In March, I presented on foreign language advocacy at the Central States Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (CSCTFL) Conference in Milwaukee and at the Southern Conference on Language Teaching (SCOLT) Conference in Atlanta.

In April, I was honored by the French Government and awarded the decoration of the Chevalier des Palmes académiques at Albertine in NYC.  Earlier in the month, I also attended my first annual meeting in NYC as a member of ASFAP.

In May, I presented a poster on “Global Voices: Many Languages One World” at the NAFSA: Association of International Educators Conference in Philadelphia.

Building on the inspirational experience of presenting at the regional conferences and responding to the urgency of effectively addressing the US foreign language deficit, I submitted proposals and was invited to present on foreign/world language advocacy at the Pennsylvania State Modern Language Association (PSMLA), New York State Association of Foreign Language Teachers (NYSAFLT), and Massachusetts Foreign Language Association (MaFLA) Conferences in October, and at the New Hampshire Association of World Language Teachers (NHAWLT) Conference in November — in Pittsburgh, Rochester, Springfield, and Manchester respectively. I came away from the regional and northeast state conferences impressed by the dedication and professionalism of foreign language educators across the country and in my own region.

I was privileged to moderate a panel discussion on fostering bilingualism in the home at the NYC Bilingual Fair in November.

During International Education Week (Nov 2018), I gave a talk on French language and Francophone culture around the world @ FDU’s Giovatto Library.

  • Selected 2018 Publications (in alphabetical order)

“L’Alliance Française: the resurgence of French in the U.S.” Language Magazine, July 2018, p. 36-38.

“Foreign Languages and Creativity — The Quiet Connection in a Globalized/Interconnected World:  How focusing on ‘deep work’ can help foster creativity, and foreign language competency”  JLTR:  Journal of Language Teaching and Research. v. 9 no. 1, Jan 2018.

“Foreign language skills as the ultimate 21st century global competency: Empowerment in a globalized world.”  International Journal of Research Studies in Language Learning. Vol 7, No 3 (2018),  71-86.

“Foreign Languages and Creativity: The Quiet Connection in a Globalized/Interconnected World.“ JLTR: Journal of Language Teaching and Research, Jan 2018.

“The French in Our Lives.” France-Amerique 07-13-18.

“From Knoxville to Paris: Linking Art and Bilingual Education.” France-Amerique 08-03-18.

“International Education Week @ the Library.”  Strategic Library Jan 2018.

“Maximizing Study Abroad.” Language Magazine, May 2018, p. 18-21.

The Role of Multilingualism in Global Citizenship: “Many Languages, One World” in Developing Responsible Global Citizenship Through Cultures and Languages Across the Curriculum (CLAC): Selected Papers from the 2016 CLAC Conference (July 2018)

“The Romance Advantage: The Significance of the Romance Languages as a Pathway to Multilingualism.” TPLS: Theory and Practice in Language Studies v. 8 no 10, October 2018.

  • Featured in (in reverse chronological order) —

Au Salon du bilinguisme, la fierté de parler plusieurs langues (Nov 2018)

Comment encourager le bilinguisme à la maison (Oct 2018)

Kathleen Stein-Smith named a Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Palmes académiques (Jan 2018)

  • Personal Engagement (in reverse chronological order)

Enjoying ‘The Nutcracker’ at the New York City Ballet at Lincoln Center (Dec 2018)

Kathy at the Delacroix Exhibit at the Met (Nov 2018)

French Language and Culture around the World — International Education Week (Nov 2018)

Visiting Parks, Gardens, and Versailles at the Met in NYC (May 2018)

Attending “The Brain and the Benefits of Bilingualism” (May 2018)

Enjoying The Nutcracker at the New York City Ballet at Lincoln Center

Enjoying The Nutcracker at the New York City Ballet at Lincoln Center recently. Thinking about the origins and history of ballet in France, and about French as the language of ballet.

Nutcracker 12-02-18 4

Languages do matter!

At the Delacroix exhibit today at the Met

I am so happy to have seen the Delacroix exhibit at the Met today. This retrospective, a joint project with the Louvre, is the first in North America.

Delacroix 11-18-18 6

While I enjoyed the entire comprehensive retrospective, my personal favorites included Jeune tigre jouant avec sa mère, which I read may have been inspired as much by his own cat as by tigers seen at the zoo, the beautiful flowers painted while the artist was at his country home in Champrosay, landscapes, and his wonderful watercolor sunsets.

In addition to the Delacroix exhibit, our day at the Met included viewing the Jewelry exhibit, old favorites in the European Painting galleries and among the French Period Rooms,  and lunch in The Dining Room, with its wonderful view of Cleopatra’s Needle and of Manhattan beyond.

Languages do matter!

Kathy featured in — “Au Salon du bilinguisme, la fierté de parler plusieurs langues” — Alexis Buisson, French Morning

I am so happy to have participated in the NYC Bilingual Fair as moderator of a panel discussion on fostering bilingualism in the home and to have spoken with French Morning’s editor-in-chief, Alexis Buisson, about bilingualism in the United States.

bilingual fair 11-03-18 3

“Comme il faut résoudre des questions de changement climatique, d’environnement et de durabilité en travaillant ensemble, le multilinguisme est une compétence mondiale essentielle. Mais le plus important, c’est que les parents se rendent compte de l’importance des langues pour leurs enfants, explique Kathleen Stein-Smith. Si les parents, les communautés, les enseignants, et tous ceux qui croient à l’importance des langues travaillent ensemble, les Américains deviendront bilingues”.

Read more @

Languages do matter!

Foreign/World Language Advocacy– Fall 2018 Perspectives

My recent 2018 Fall presentations on foreign/world language advocacy at PSMLA, NYSAFLT, MaFLA, and NHAWLT, along with the opportunity to moderate a panel discussion on fostering bilingualism in the home at the NYC bilingual fair, have caused me to think deeply about the role of language, and languages, in our lives, in the future of our children, and as part of our personal cultural identity, especially in response to questions from participants and those in attendance.

Fall 2018 update

I came away so impressed by both the dedication and professionalism of language educators and the motivation of parents and communities to obtain the “bilingual edge” and the “bilingual advantage” for their children.

I was also very impressed by the strength and vibrancy of French language learning in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

It is a wonderful time for languages in the US, with more than 60M Americans speaking a language other than English in the home. However, it is a less than wonderful time for language learning in the US, with fewer than 20% of K-12 students and only 7.5% of college and university students studying another language.

Nonetheless, language skills and cultural knowledge represent not only a chance to re-connect with our cultural heritage, but also a personal, cultural, and professional opportunity —  as well as part of the global citizenship skills set.

What can — and should — we do?

In addition to being vigilant and proactive allies and defenders of programs that are in danger and at risk, as language educators, we need to work together and develop partnerships with language stakeholders in business, government, and in our communities, in order to drive the public conversation about languages and language learning.

Languages matter – and empower: personally and professionally; cognitively and academically; globally and locally.

Advocacy goals include: building interest; increasing availability; ensuring an early start; and developing sustainable motivation.

It is also important for all language stakeholders to understand that we are in this together, and that advocacy is a wide umbrella, encompassing different languages, grade levels, and methodologies — and that we are in this together.

As language educators and advocates, we need to create a “buzz” about the benefits of languages, language use, and bilingualism in the workplace and in our society.

Language advocacy needs to be strategic, using the theories and best practices of management, marketing, and public relations, in addition to our educational perspectives.

It is especially important to remember that an early start to language learning and immersion are among the most valid predictors of a successful language learning outcome.

Most importantly, we need to reach out to parents and communities with either a present or heritage language.

The role of the AATF Commission on Advocacy is: to “defend” the French language in the US, keeping French in the public conversation through professional engagement, research, and writing; to provide information to French language educators; to support French programs that are at risk or in danger.

This is a wonderful time for languages in the US, and it can be a wonderful time for language learning, if we have the motivation, persistence, and strategy to make it so.

Languages do matter!