Language Matters

Kathleen Stein Smith, Ph.D

Monthly Archives: May 2018

Bilingualism, Immersion, and Foreign Language Enrollments –What we need to do to address the US Foreign Language Deficit

In reviewing visits to Language Matters during the first half of 2018, I noticed that — apart from the announcement of 25,000 views, the two most popular posts have been —

Attending a conversation on “The Brain and the Potential of Bilingualism” at Albertine       


“The decline in enrollments appears to be ‘the beginning of a trend rather than a blip’” — From the MLA Newsletter, Spring 2018  

It is my belief that this surge of interest is no accident, but rather a sign of the collective realization that we must maximize the potential for young learners to have access to both traditional foreign language education and to immersion programs, beginning at the earliest grade levels, with continued sequential learning supported through Pre-K/K-12, and with planned transition bridges to college and university, where a variety of pre-professional and interdisciplinary curricula will provide career pathways to careers in language services, international business, STEM, and beyond.

It necessary to continue to develop partnerships among community and other foreign language advocates and stakeholders.

L’union fait la force!


Visiting Parks, Gardens, and Versailles at the Met in NYC

A dreary Friday afternoon was brightened by two special exhibits at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC — Public Parks, Private Gardens: Paris to Provence, and Visitors to Versailles: 1682-1789.

Our first stop after arriving at the museum was Public Parks, Private Gardens: Paris to Provence, well suited to its setting in the beautiful Robert Lehman wing.  I enjoyed seeing old favorites like A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte and Le Parc Monceau, as well as works by Monet, Corot, Caillebotte,  and many more within the context of the evolution in garden spaces and in awareness of the green spaces around us.

Met 05-18-18

Video depicting Monet painting in his famous garden in Giverny, and L’Arroseur arrosé, an early comedy on the trials and tribulations of the garden and its gardener by Louis Lumière, were a wonderful addition to the exhibit.

We then visited Visitors to Versailles: 1682-1789, which highlighted the opulence and grandeur of the Palace of Versailles as it welcomed visitors from Europe, America, and beyond — including Founding Father Benjamin Franklin.

Magnificent though Versailles may have been, the story of its expansion from simple country chateau to world showplace during the reign of Louis XIV, followed by its decline in the years leading up to the French revolution in just over a hundred years, clearly demonstrates the transitory nature of power and influence. Sic transit gloria mundi.

Both exhibits exceeded expectations, bringing back memories of my own visits to Versailles and of time spent in the Jardin des Tuileries and other beautiful green spaces in Paris.

The rest of the afternoon European painting, European sculpture and decorative art, the American Wing, and the Temple of Dendur.

An early, yet memorable, dinner in The Dining Room at the Met, overlooking the obelisk known as Cleopatra’s Needle, in Central Park, concluded our visit.

We then attended an interesting event at Albertine, located in the nearby Payne Whitney mansion, a conversation on bilingualism and the brain.

The importance of France in world culture and history, and in our own American story, was the recurring theme of the entire day.

Languages do matter!




Attending a conversation on “The Brain and the Potential of Bilingualism” at Albertine

I am so happy to have attended the discussion on bilingualism yesterday evening at Albertine — featuring a conversation between Dr. Fabrice Jaumont and Dr. Ellen Bialystok, and introduced by French Cultural Counselor Bénédicte de Montlaur, engaging speakers all.

Albertine 05-18-18

Speaking before a full house on “The Brain and the Benefits of Bilingualism,” Dr. Bialystok spoke at length on the benefits of bilingualism, reminding us that so many of the world’s people speak one or more additional languages.

In addition to Dr. Bialystok’s insightful remarks and evident depth of feeling on the importance of languages, highlights of the evening included her preference for “monolingual disadvantage” rather than the often-used term “bilingual advantage,” and Dr. Jaumont’s perceptive comment that the monolingual disadvantage can be cured!

Feeling so fortunate to have the opportunity to be in the presence of a scholar whose writings have so often inspired me and who graciously and thoughtfully answered many, many questions from those present,  I asked what advice she would offer to parents, educators, language advocates, and other language stakeholders. Her reply was — “confidence” — that we should be “confident” in making our case for languages in our schools and communities.

Every revolution begins with one person — an old, but true saying.

We are, indeed, fortunate, to have had the privilege of learning about the most current research on bilingualism from Dr. Bialystok, and for having in our metropolitan NYC area a leader and “bilingual revolutionary” in Dr. Fabrice Jaumont.

The conversation resonated with me both personally and professionally.

Growing up in a North Jersey community where bilingualism in Spanish and English was the norm, and later serving as my hometown’s first bilingual public library director, bilingualism has been a lifelong interest.

Living for some years in Québec, where bilingualism in French and English is part of the Canadian way, I was inspired by research and teaching at Université Laval and its Centre international de recherches sur le bilinguisme led by Dr. William Mackey, which drove my own graduate research on comparative stylistics in French and English under the direction of noted scholar and expert Jean-Louis Darbelnet.

Many thanks to the French Cultural Services and to French Cultural Counselor Bénédicte de Montlaur for having organized this event, and special thanks to Dr. Fabrice Jaumont and to Dr. Ellen Bialystock for this significant conversation.

Languages do matter!

Delighted to have received my copy of my article, “Maximizing Study Abroad,” in the May issue of Language Magazine

DelightedLang mag 05-18 2 to have received my copy of my article, “Maximizing Study Abroad,” in the May issue of Language Magazine.

Languages do matter!

Lang mag 05-18 2

Nearly 2,000 downloads for my newest book on the US Foreign Language Deficit — Thank you all!!

Nearly 2,000 downloads for my newest book on the US foreign language deficit — Thank you all!!

Languages do matter!

New book cover 08-16

Here Are the Most Expensive Countries to Live in 2018

“If you thought the U.S. was a pricey place to live, think again.

10. New Zealand
9. Israel
8. Ireland
7. Denmark
6. Singapore
5. Luxembourg
4. Bahamas
3. Norway
2. Switzerland
1. Iceland”

Read more @

Languages do matter!

The Multilingual Advantage: Foreign Language as a Social Skill in a Globalized World

Delighted to have received my print copy of IJHSS, with my article, “The Multilingual Advantage: Foreign Language as a Social Skill in a Globalized World.”

ijhss cover

Languages do matter!

The 18 most annoying French ‘false friends’ of all time

“French is littered with pesky ‘false friends’ – so don’t just try and say English words in a French accent.

The false friends of the French language can be harmless, inconvenient, or downright embarrassing.

Faux amis can also be really, really annoying, and here are the 19 most irritating of them all.”

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Languages do matter!

There’s an Italian word for making everything you do seem effortless

“There’s a rarified group of people who always look put together without looking like they’ve spent the whole day in front of a mirror. Italians call this blessed quality sprezzatura, a kind of ‘studied carelessness,’ ‘careful negligence,’ ‘effortless ease’.”

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Languages do matter!

Why French?

ICYMI — “Kathy Stein-Smith explains why demand is growing for French the world over.

There is one skill that is being learned around the world, with enrollments growing by 50% in Asia and Africa, while in the U.S. programs are being reduced and even eliminated. This highly sought-after global skill is not social media, data analytics, or coding; it is learning French.”

Read more @

Languages do matter!