Language Matters

Kathleen Stein Smith, Ph.D

Monthly Archives: October 2016

Halloween around the World

“Halloween, one of the world’s oldest holidays, is still celebrated today in a number of countries around the globe. In Mexico and other Latin American countries, Día de los Muertos—the Day of the Dead—honors deceased loved ones and ancestors. In countries such as Ireland, Canada and the United States, adults and children alike revel in the popular Halloween holiday, which derived from ancient festivals and religious rituals. Traditions include costume parties, trick-or-treating, pranks and games.”

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Languages do matter!

In formation (Airbus, Economist)

Europe’s big planemaker takes another short hop towards being a “normal” firm

“The company began as a jumble of the national aerospace firms of France, Germany, Britain and Spain, jointly known as EADS, in 1967. Mr Enders has laboured, with much success, to reduce state influence on the group and to create a profit-driven firm like any other. But the roots of the past run deep. Airbus Group sits at the top of three divisions—jetliners, defence and space, and helicopters. The jetliner division, for example, still thinks of itself as French in character, and the defence and space unit keeps some sense of its former German identity.”

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Languages do matter!

Learning to assimilate (Bilingual Education, Economist)

In November Californians will also be voting on teaching in English

“Proposition 58, which will appear on California’s November 8th ballot, aims to spread such multilingual programmes across the Golden State.

This is much more contentious than it sounds. California has by far the largest foreign-born population of any state. Ten million—or nearly a quarter of all immigrants in the country—call the sprawling state home.

The new measure, proposed by Ricardo Lara, a state senator who was born in California to Mexican parents, seeks to repeal parts of Proposition 227, a ballot initiative that put restrictions on bilingual education in 1998.”

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Languages do matter!

Love, food and music: Why Italian is now the world’s fourth most studied language

“Italian is growing in popularity as a foreign language around the world – but why the appeal? We asked our readers, whose reasons for learning the language ranged from family old and new to an appreciation of the food and culture – as well as some more unexpected factors.

Italian has leapt to fourth place in terms of the most-studied languages worldwide. The number of foreigners studying it has risen to 2,233,373 in the 2015/16 academic year – up from 1,700,000 the previous year.

The figures, released by the General Assembly of the Italian Language in the World, revealed student numbers saw a particular increase in France and Germany but also further afield, in Australia and the USA.”


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Languages do matter!

SAP’s CEO on Being the American Head of a German Multinational

“My advice to an executive who’s asked to lead an organization based outside his or her home culture wouldn’t be much different from what I’d tell any new leader of a business, no matter where it’s located: Understand and respect the dynamics of the culture. Learn to read the room. Armed with empathy, give the people a compelling vision and find a way to hit the accelerator harder. Always try to act with humility, to be human, and to be yourself. Finally, never forget where you came from or that the best is yet to come. Optimism is a free stimulus in any country.”

Languages do matter!

Kathy’s News from the CLAC (Cultures and Languages across the Curriculum) Consortium Conference

I attended the CLAC (Cultures and Languages across the Curriculum) Consortium Conference on the beautiful campus of Drake University in Des Moines, where I presented on “The Role of Multilingualism in Global Citizenship:  The Many Languages One World (MLOW) Essay Contest and Global Youth Forum.”

Framed by the conference theme of “developing responsible global citizenship through CLAC,” all of the sessions and presenters were wonderful, each examining the role of cultures and languages across the curriculum in fostering and encouraging global citizenship from different disciplinary perspectives and through different lenses.

The welcome remarks set the tone for the day, and I found the plenary on the well-known “Drake Experiment” in foreign language education interesting and insightful.  I was especially happy to hear the many references to the MLA report, Foreign Languages and Higher Education:  New Structures for a Changed World, which was one of cornerstones of my doctoral research on foreign language as a global competency.  The timing of the conference actually coincided with the inaugural weekend for one of the report’s authors, a member of my doctoral committee, as President of Manhattanville, one of the New York City area’s private colleges.

After my presentation in the first session on “Intercultural Understanding and CLAC,” I attended “Engaging Study Abroad through CLAC,” which included a presentation by a fellow AATF Commission Chair, and “Unleashing Interdisciplinarity at a Small Liberal Arts College:  Strategies for Applying Student Language Skills and Cultural Knowledge to Real World Situations,” and the keynote address in the evening.

I wish I could have attended all the concurrent sessions, but of course, it was necessary to choose.

Spending the day in such a beautiful venue listening to the creative language and culture initiatives  at so many institutions was truly inspirational.

Many thanks to the CLAC Consortium and to our hosts at Drake University for organizing the conference, and special thanks to the convener of my panel session, from Baldwin Wallace University.

Languages do matter!

New Multinational Network of Universities in Europe

“The founding president of a new network of nine research universities in Europe says the member institutions are united by ‘the conviction that there is no trade-off between research excellence by global standards, broad access for students and an inclusive academic environment and societal impact in research, teaching and outreach.’”

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Languages do matter!

A Library That Brings Books by Sailboat

“The toothless steersman positioned the rudder. A second sailor, balancing barefoot on an outrigger, coaxed an elderly engine into life. A third poled the boat away from the trash-strewn beach. In West Sulawesi, Indonesia, a ground-breaking mobile library was on its way.”

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Languages do matter!

Kathy’s News from the 2016 COFLT-WAFLT Conference

I was honored to have been invited to participate in the 2016 COFLT-WAFLT Conference (Confederation in Oregon for Language Teaching – Washington Association for Language Teaching) in Portland, Oregon, where I presented on “Foreign Language — Advocacy, Empowerment, and Career Pathways.”

I was impressed not only by the number of conference participants who attended my session on a stormy Saturday morning, but most importantly, by their engagement in foreign language advocacy for student empowerment and career success.

The scope and quality of the speakers and presentations were excellent, complemented by a friendly welcome, and the warmth and hospitality of everyone in attendance.

In addition to the inspirational keynote address, “You Can Make a Difference:  The Impact of Teaching Culture in the Target Language,” presented by Martina Bex, I attended the first hour of “Achieving 90% or More in the Target Language,” presented by Michele Stemler, “Target Language Use and Classroom Management:  High Leverage Strategies,” presented by Bridget Yaden and Paris Granville, “Credits, Careers and Competing in the Global Economy,” presented by Angela Dávila, “Linking National, State, and Local Advocacy,” presented by Bill Rivers, and “Two Easy Ways to Vocabulary Acquisition,” presented by Elena Smith.

The conference closed with a luncheon for each language taught, and I very much enjoyed attending the French language luncheon and sharing impressions of the conference en français with my new friends and colleagues!

Many thanks to all who worked to make the conference such a resounding success and to all who participated.

Bonne continuation!


UN Spanish Language Day (Oct0ber 12th)

UN Spanish Language Day is observed annually on October 12. The event was established by the UNESCO(United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) in 2010 to seeking “to celebrate multilingualism and cultural diversity as well as to promote equal use of all six of its official working languages throughout the organization“. October 12 is a date observed in many Spanish-speaking territories as Día de la Raza or Día de la Hispanidad. Read more @

Languages do matter!