Language Matters

Kathleen Stein Smith, Ph.D

Monthly Archives: April 2014

It’s never too early for children to learn a second language, say experts

It’s never too early for children to learn a second language, say experts

“It’s never too early for infants to begin learning a second language as it can greatly improve cognitive skills later in life, visiting experts tell Mabel Sieh

In their first year, Kuhl says, babies are ‘citizens of the world – they can discriminate all the sounds of all the languages in the world before their first birthdays’.

But there is a critical period when the babies become culture-bound listeners like adults who have learned to tune into the sounds they hear most often – their mother tongue.

Human interaction, however, seems to be a significant factor for young learners being able to pick up a foreign language successfully.”

Languages do matter!

Mother’s Day and Muttertag

Mother’s Day and Muttertag

The history of mom’s holiday in Germany and around the world

Although the idea of honoring mothers on a special day was known as far back as ancient Greece, today Mother’s Day is celebrated in many countries, in many different ways, and on different dates.”

Languages do matter! 



Mother’s Day Traditions around the World

Mother’s Day Tradiitons around the World

“Mother’s Day is celebrated in different ways around the world. Every year as May approaches, sons and daughters around the world plan on celebrating their mothers.

Read how other countries honor their mothers through their own traditions.”

Languages do matter!

When is Mother’s Day in Spain celebrated?

When is Mother’s Day in Spain celebrated?

“Mother’s Day in Spain, known as ‘Dia de la Madre’ in Spanish, is celebrated on the first Sunday of May.”

Languages do matter!

Mother’s Day in France: Celebrate a Second Time with France’s Fête des Mères

Mother’s Day in France: Celebrate a Second Time with France’s Fête des Mères

“Think one Mother’s Day a year simply isn’t enough? Moms can get a second dose of attention by celebrating France’s Fête des Mères on June 7. A French tradition that was inaugurated by Napoleon and made official in 1950, this day honoring mothers dates back to Ancient Greece and is found in several countries.

In France, the tradition calls for a variety of honors for mother. She might receive a gift from her children, or the children might let mom (or mère) relax, and, as all things in France, it usually culminates in a large dinner in mom’s honor. These dinners are usually a major family affair.

The main thrust is that this is a day when, much like in America, mothers do not work and their families cater to their whims. Mothers here also usually get cards and flowers. Sometimes children write short poems for mom.”

Languages do matter!


Moral Judgment Influenced by What Language You Speak

Moral Judgment Influenced by What Language You Speak

“Though one might expect a person to judge a moral dilemma the same way regardless of the language used to understand the problem, research suggests that this is not the case. Scientific evidence supports the conclusion that people are more likely to make utilitarian decisions when considering a problem in a foreign language.

The increase in utilitarian decision-making may also be related to the increased emotional distance that one experience while speaking a foreign language. Previous studies have indicated that people speaking in a foreign language display less emotion (as evaluated by skin conductance tests) than they do when speaking in their mother-tongue. In addition, people show greater agitation when lying in their native language than in a foreign one.

The discovery that the native-ness of a language used to present a moral dilemma can influence one’s moral judgment is an important consideration for the rapidly globalizing world. The authors note that not only immigrants, but also organizations such as the United Nations, European Union, and international corporations are faced with the need to simultaneously make decisions and communicate in foreign languages. As such, responsible policy-makers must be cognizant not only of the content of a moral dilemma, but also the way in which the problem is presented as factors that may influence the decision-making process.”

Languages do matter!

May Day

May Day

“This article is about the holidays celebrated on May 1.”

Languages do matter!

Mother’s Day History: International Mother’s Days Today

Mother’s Day History: International Mother’s Days Today

“In addition to the popular Mother’s Day holiday in the United States, many cultures celebrate a Mother’s Day.

Mother’s Day in Britain — or Mothering Sunday — is the fourth Sunday in Lent.

The second Sunday in May is Mother’s Day not only in the United States, but also in other countries including Denmark, Finland, Italy, Turkey, Australia and Belgium. By the end of Anna Jarvis’ life, Mother’s Day was celebrated in more than 40 countries.

In Spain, Mother’s Day is December 8, on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, so that not only mothers in one’s family are honored, but also Mary, mother of Jesus.

In France, Mother’s Day is on the last Sunday of May. A special cake resembling a bouquet of flowers is presented to mothers at a family dinner.”


Languages do matter!

Various May Days around the World

Various May Days around the World

“Although more synonymous with International Workers’ Day, or Labor Day, May Day is celebrated by some as the beginning of summer and the chance to celebrate the coming of the season of warmth and light.”

Languages do matter!

Have a nice day in many languages

Have a nice day in many languages

“This phrase or something like it is widely used in the USA and Canada. Elsewhere usage is limited to certain situations, such as in shops.”

Languages do matter!