Language Matters

Kathleen Stein Smith, Ph.D

Monthly Archives: November 2017

Kathy named a Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Palmes académiques

I am delighted to share with you the good news that I have been named a Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Palmes académiques, “a national order of France for distinguished academics and figures in the world of culture and education.” (

This is, in so many ways, the culmination of a lifelong interest in — and affection for — the French language and all that it represents historically and geographically, as a language of culture, diplomacy, and “soft power.”

Many thanks to all the good friends who supported me through the process, especially to Fabrice Jaumont, Karl Cogard, and to all my friends at AATF and our other professional associations of foreign language and international educators, and of language services professionals.

Languages do matter!

Giving Thanks Around the World

“Dig in and feast on fruitful knowledge about different countries — including Korea, India and Ghana — that give thanks by throwing festivals to commemorate a great harvest and year.”

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Languages do matter!

From “Pecan” to “Aunt” — The French in Our Lives

In the week leading up to Thanksgiving, thoughts turn frequently to family and food.

In discussing our aunt’s upcoming visit, or her wonderful pecan pie, many of us pronounce these words à la française, expressing even unconsciously the direct — or indirect — trajectory of these American words from French into English.

Pronunciation varies, as do opinions!  🙂

How do you pronounce these words?

Languages do matter!


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.

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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!