Language Matters

Kathleen Stein Smith, Ph.D

At MLA Today Participating in a Panel Presentation on College Foreign Language Requirements

I am honored to have been invited to participate in a panel presentation at the MLA (Modern Language Association) 2018 Conference today in NYC  on college foreign language requirements. What wonderful co-presenters and what an impressive conference!

MLA 01-06-18 6

Despite the recent snowstorm and the record-breaking cold in NYC, the welcome was warm, and the program was amazing, as were the exhibits!

During the panel presentation, I described the work of the AATF Commission on Advocacy and stressed the importance of advocacy, of partnerships among foreign language educators at all levels, of interdisciplinary collaborations, and of partnerships with foreign language stakeholders in government, business, and industry.

Examples include my membership in the Education & Pedagogy Committee of the ATA, as well as my involvement in and support of the work of our regional professional associations of foreign language educators — CSCTFL, SCOLT, and SWCOLT

Future directions include advocacy for an earlier start and for the opportunity for continued study of one or more foreign languages.

Specific examples of the effectiveness of an early start and of continued study include the Many Languages One World Essay Contest and Global Youth Forum, where the multilingual contest winners — college and university students from around the world — are invited by the UN Academic Impact to present in their second language in the General Assembly Hall of the UN.

Heritage language programs, including second language instruction in a closely-related language, and the dual-language immersion programs showcased at the NYC Bilingual Fair and affectionately referred to as the révolution bilingue, in public schools in NYC, and spreading across the country.

Other areas include online education, experiential learning, and career pathways, “multiple pathways to the major” as described in the MLA report, funding for students to take foreign language courses not required by their major, external validation building on the existing Many Languages One World program, the Seal of Biliteracy, and the many contests, awards, and honors sponsored by the professional associations of foreign language educators.  Lastly, the promotion of second/double majors, as described by the MLA and by the Institut Français in its Et en plus, je parle français initiative, is an area of the utmost importance.

My first stop after arriving early on Saturday morning was, of course, the MLA Advocacy Table, where I had the pleasure of meeting two terrific volunteer advocates.

I very much enjoyed the presentation on skype interviews — made all the more realistic by the skype presentation of one of the presenters who was unable to be present due to the snowstorm!  The presentation on writing skills in a second language was also interesting, informative, and very well received.

What an impressive conference — my very first MLA!

Special thanks to Dennis Looney and to Gary Schmidt for having invited me to participate.

Languages do matter!

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One response to “At MLA Today Participating in a Panel Presentation on College Foreign Language Requirements

  1. Pingback: Kathleen Stein-Smith on FL Advocacy at the MLA Convention | Connected Departments

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