Language Matters

Kathleen Stein Smith, Ph.D

Monthly Archives: July 2014

Many Languages One World — Winning Essays Online

“The purpose of the Many Languages, One World Essay Contest and Global Youth Forum is to highlight the importance of multilingualism as it relates to global citizenship. Students from all over the world submitted thoughtful, insightful essays on the subject, and we appreciate and applaud the efforts of all the students who took the time to share their views on multilingualism.

We can think of no better way to recognize the hard work of the sixty contest winners than to let their words speak for themselves. Below, organized by language group, we are pleased to present the winning essays of the Many Languages, One World Essay Contest.”

Many thanks to ELS Education Services, the United Nations Academic Impact, and Adelphi University for their support of this wonderful event.

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Languages do matter!

Celebrate Esperanto Day Today (July 26th)

“Esperanto Day is on Saturday 26 July and will be launched this year at the World Esperanto Conference in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The conference will be attended by 600 delegates from over 60 countries, but the only language in use will be the International Language, Esperanto.

Now widely used on the internet and in tourism, Esperanto also has an extensive original literature. Its uses include theatre, the cinema and music. Radio stations in Brazil, China, Cuba and the Vatican broadcast regularly in Esperanto. China Television broadcasts in Esperanto and many more programs are available online.

The language is in daily use worldwide with the major growth areas in Asia and Africa. The World Esperanto Association enjoys consultative relations with the United Nations and the Council of Europe and is using its position to defend minority language rights.”

Many thanks to Daniel Ward, Language Magazine, for this post.

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Languages do matter!

Bienvenidos a España

“Spain has scrapped its university entrance exam for foreign students in a move to establish the country as a major destination for overseas study.

The Selectividad exam, which has been removed with immediate effect, has long been viewed as a barrier to increasing Spain’s relatively low number of international students.

Only about 74,000 foreign students were enrolled at Spanish universities last year, compared with 425,000 studying in Britain and 300,000 in Germany, official figures show.

But the removal of the test may now allow the country to exploit the growing demand for higher education in Latin America and the Middle East, experts said.

‘The exam was in Spanish and based on the Spanish educational system, with parts of it on Spanish literature, so it was very hard for overseas students to pass.’

The exam’s removal, which was announced in a royal decree in June, was a ‘revolutionary decision’ because it signaled a new era of academic openness in Spain.

“Students are only paying about 10 to 20 percent of the cost of tuition, so there is a real cost to universities to take on extra overseas students,” he said.

Although public Spanish universities were unlikely to compete with Britain or Germany in terms of quality, many students, particularly Spanish speakers, would be attracted to the benefits of living and studying in Spain.

Higher fee income from overseas students could provide a massive boost to Spain’s under-pressure economy, whose travails have resulted in significant cuts to higher education funding in recent years.”

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Languages do matter

Letter From France | The Paris Hotel Scene Gets a Glitzy New Player

“At the new Peninsula Paris Hotel, not far from the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe, workers are frantically hanging paintings and placing umbrellas on the rooftop terrace in preparation for this Friday’s grand opening.

The Peninsula combines two related trends in the Paris luxury hotel landscape, both brought about by the shifting desires of the hotels’ wealthy international guests, most recently those from China, who are coming in ever-greater numbers. For many such guests, the history, culture and class of the city’s old palaces are no longer enough. They also require bigness, brashness and glitz: spa suites with private saunas and rain showers, trendy nightclubs, private butlers and on-site contemporary art consultants.

As a result, many of the city’s old-timers, including the Ritz, the Plaza-Athénée and the Crillon, have closed for extensive makeovers in recent years, while other classics, including the Bristol and the Meurice, have gambled that they can renovate discreetly while keeping their doors open. Meanwhile, ultramodern, Asia-themed hotels with expansive accommodations, including the Shangri-La in the 16th Arrondissement, which opened in 2010, and the Mandarin Oriental on the rue Saint-Honoré luxury boutique strip, which opened in 2011, have become wildly popular.

More luxury is on the way. The Ritz and the Crillon will reopen next year. After that, LVMH will finish renovations on a luxury hotel in the former La Samaritaine department store on the rue de Rivoli near City Hall.”

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Languages do matter!

Selfie, hashtag and troll are now officially French words

“Despite France’s best attempts to find alternatives, the English words “selfie” and “hashtag” are now officially part of the French language, according to Le Petit Robert, the renowned dictionary, whose new edition will be published next week.

The entry of the English terms was unveiled at the same time that the first Briton was officially sworn in as a member of the hallowed Académie française, the official guardian of the French language, which battles against “Anglo-Saxon” invasions of French, offering Gallic equivalents such as courriel instead of email.

Every year, Le Petit Robert incorporates a host of new words after months of debate and a rigorous selection procedure. Of the 600 candidates, only a quarter made the grade for the 2015 edition.

A third Anglicism to appear in the dictionary is “MOOC.”

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Languages do matter!

Schools cut foreign languages

More than a quarter of WA’s public primary schools no longer teach students a foreign language, even though four years ago all of them did.

Despite a Federal Government push to revive languages education in schools, Education Department figures revealed that 135 of the State’s 516 primary schools had dropped language programs by last year. Language teaching used to be considered compulsory because the department’s curriculum policy specified schools had to report outcomes from languages learning.

But the Education Department changed this policy in 2010 to allow primary schools to focus more on literacy and numeracy, which meant they could be “more flexible” on whether they had a languages program.

WA Primary Principals Association president Stephen Breen attributed the sharp decrease in schools teaching languages to budget cuts, difficulty finding language teachers and more focus on national literacy and numeracy tests.”

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Languages do matter!

What fonts tell us about the global economics of the internet

“If you mostly read English or other Romance or Germanic languages, you’ve been spoiled for choice with digital fonts. The Latin alphabet has long been the subject of intense typographical exploration, with thousands of fonts available in more styles and weights than most non-designers would ever think necessary. Readers of non-Latin scripts like Chinese, Hindi, or Hebrew have never enjoyed such diversity.

Now the globalization of fonts is erasing this disparity. Type design and delivery might seem esoteric, but the flattening world of type actually speaks volumes about the economic and technological changes that are creating a truly global internet.”

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Languages do matter!

“Yes we code,” but we can’t communicate

From Tennessee Bob’s AATF K-12 First-Responder Advocacy Kit.

“Don’t accept programming as a substitute for required foreign language training. It cheats students, and it will hurt our potential for international skills.”

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Languages do matter!

Firms must address language skills gap

‘It’s imperative that languages are made a compulsory subject both in Primary and Secondary schools to GCSE level.’

Businesses in Coventry and Warwickshire are being urged to help address the growing foreign language skills gap.

A government report has revealed that only nine per cent of English 15-year-olds are competent in their first foreign language beyond a basic level and that the number of students taking language degrees is also at a record low, with 44 universities scrapping courses since 2000.

The All Party Parliamentary Group report estimates that poor language skills costs the UK economy as much as £50billion a year, as a result of businesses losing out on millions of pounds worth of exports and failing to fill job posts.

The report also says employers should be involved in improving language skills, and maintaining and developing UK expertise in modern languages and cultures in university language departments

Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce has welcomed a pledge by MPs to encourage all political parties to make a commitment in their election manifestos for next year, to improve the country’s language skills.”

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Languages do matter!

Thinking of the World: Examining the growing popularity of French Immersion in the United States

“While demand for all language immersion programs is on the rise across the US, the demand for French immersion appears particularly profound. There are reported waiting lists for French immersion in: Montgomery County, Maryland; Gwinnett County, Georgia; Louisiana; Portland, Oregon; New York City; Fairfax County, Virginia; Boston, Massachusetts, and many other districts across the country.

Full and partial immersion programs have nearly doubled, sustaining a 95% increase since 2006. Spanish is by far the most popular immersion program (684 programs);
French, interestingly is the second most popular program (126 programs).

It appears that French, for English speaking Americans, is the language of global opportunity and international mobility.”

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Languages do matter!