Language Matters

Kathleen Stein Smith, Ph.D

Monthly Archives: November 2018

At the Delacroix exhibit today at the Met

I am so happy to have seen the Delacroix exhibit at the Met today. This retrospective, a joint project with the Louvre, is the first in North America.

Delacroix 11-18-18 6

While I enjoyed the entire comprehensive retrospective, my personal favorites included Jeune tigre jouant avec sa mère, which I read may have been inspired as much by his own cat as by tigers seen at the zoo, the beautiful flowers painted while the artist was at his country home in Champrosay, landscapes, and his wonderful watercolor sunsets.

In addition to the Delacroix exhibit, our day at the Met included viewing the Jewelry exhibit, old favorites in the European Painting galleries and among the French Period Rooms,  and lunch in The Dining Room, with its wonderful view of Cleopatra’s Needle and of Manhattan beyond.

Languages do matter!

Kathy featured in — “Au Salon du bilinguisme, la fierté de parler plusieurs langues” — Alexis Buisson, French Morning

I am so happy to have participated in the NYC Bilingual Fair as moderator of a panel discussion on fostering bilingualism in the home and to have spoken with French Morning’s editor-in-chief, Alexis Buisson, about bilingualism in the United States.

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“Comme il faut résoudre des questions de changement climatique, d’environnement et de durabilité en travaillant ensemble, le multilinguisme est une compétence mondiale essentielle. Mais le plus important, c’est que les parents se rendent compte de l’importance des langues pour leurs enfants, explique Kathleen Stein-Smith. Si les parents, les communautés, les enseignants, et tous ceux qui croient à l’importance des langues travaillent ensemble, les Américains deviendront bilingues”.

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Languages do matter!

Foreign/World Language Advocacy– Fall 2018 Perspectives

My recent 2018 Fall presentations on foreign/world language advocacy at PSMLA, NYSAFLT, MaFLA, and NHAWLT, along with the opportunity to moderate a panel discussion on fostering bilingualism in the home at the NYC bilingual fair, have caused me to think deeply about the role of language, and languages, in our lives, in the future of our children, and as part of our personal cultural identity, especially in response to questions from participants and those in attendance.

Fall 2018 update

I came away so impressed by both the dedication and professionalism of language educators and the motivation of parents and communities to obtain the “bilingual edge” and the “bilingual advantage” for their children.

I was also very impressed by the strength and vibrancy of French language learning in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

It is a wonderful time for languages in the US, with more than 60M Americans speaking a language other than English in the home. However, it is a less than wonderful time for language learning in the US, with fewer than 20% of K-12 students and only 7.5% of college and university students studying another language.

Nonetheless, language skills and cultural knowledge represent not only a chance to re-connect with our cultural heritage, but also a personal, cultural, and professional opportunity —  as well as part of the global citizenship skills set.

What can — and should — we do?

In addition to being vigilant and proactive allies and defenders of programs that are in danger and at risk, as language educators, we need to work together and develop partnerships with language stakeholders in business, government, and in our communities, in order to drive the public conversation about languages and language learning.

Languages matter – and empower: personally and professionally; cognitively and academically; globally and locally.

Advocacy goals include: building interest; increasing availability; ensuring an early start; and developing sustainable motivation.

It is also important for all language stakeholders to understand that we are in this together, and that advocacy is a wide umbrella, encompassing different languages, grade levels, and methodologies — and that we are in this together.

As language educators and advocates, we need to create a “buzz” about the benefits of languages, language use, and bilingualism in the workplace and in our society.

Language advocacy needs to be strategic, using the theories and best practices of management, marketing, and public relations, in addition to our educational perspectives.

It is especially important to remember that an early start to language learning and immersion are among the most valid predictors of a successful language learning outcome.

Most importantly, we need to reach out to parents and communities with either a present or heritage language.

The role of the AATF Commission on Advocacy is: to “defend” the French language in the US, keeping French in the public conversation through professional engagement, research, and writing; to provide information to French language educators; to support French programs that are at risk or in danger.

This is a wonderful time for languages in the US, and it can be a wonderful time for language learning, if we have the motivation, persistence, and strategy to make it so.

Languages do matter!

Foreign Language Education in the Northeast — Kathy’s Fall Travels — Presenting at the 2018 PSMLA, NYSAFLT, MaFLA, and NHAWLT Conferences and at the 2018 NYC Bilingual Fair

I am so happy to have attended and presented at the 2018 PSMLA, NYSAFLT, MaFLA, and NHAWLT Conferences and to have been invited to moderate a panel discussion at the NYC Bilingual Fair.

Fall 2018 update

Language as empowerment — past, present, and future — was the common theme throughout, with educators and parents speaking with one voice on the importance of both heritage languages and language learning as personal, cultural, and professional empowerment, and as a global competency.

As a native of the NYC area and having studied and lived in Québec for several years, I was impressed and inspired by French language education and Franco-American culture in the Northeast, especially by my experience and impressions from the MaFLA and NHAWLT conferences.

Crisscrossing the Northeast over the past 5 weekends, I was honored to present and to participate in 5 important conferences on foreign/world language learning and the endlessly fascinating phenomenon of bilingualism, more common and yet more elusive than many of us might imagine.

Inspired by my wonderful experience attending all 4 regional conference this past spring (presenting at 3 of them), where I came away new ideas, fresh perspectives, and — best of all — new professional acquaintances and friends, I submitted proposals to the Fall conferences in several neighboring states and was delighted to be accepted as a presenter.

Once again, the conferences were wonderful, with interesting and informative sessions, excellent exhibits, beautiful venues, and — especially — opportunities to get to know dedicated foreign language educators in several states and their thoughts on the issues we all face.  The NYC Bilingual Fair gave me the opportunity to interact with language advocates, practitioners, stakeholders, and — most importantly — with parents seeking the bilingual advantage for their children.

I continue to firmly believe in the importance of the educator/parent partnership in language advocacy.

Many thanks to the organizers for having invited me to present and special thanks to those who attended my sessions.


Kathy Presenting at the 2018 NHAWLT Conference in Manchester

I am so happy to have had the opportunity to present on world language advocacy at the 2018 NHAWLT conference in Manchester.

NHAWLT 10-10-18

After arriving on Friday morning, I attended the keynote session on aligning curriculum with the state and national standards presented by the NHAWLT President, the AATF presentation & meeting, conversation en français, and a session on the use of games in the French language classroom.

I especially enjoyed the conversation session (which was also offered in Spanish and German) as an opportunity to chat informally en français and get to know New Hampshire colleagues who share my interest in French and Francophone culture, and in French language education.

The Commissioner of the New Hampshire Department of Education, the Consul General of Spain in Boston, and the Executive Director of the Franco-American Centre in Manchester were among the dignitaries present at this interesting and inspirational conference.

This well-attended conference was excellent, with interesting and informative sessions. Historic Manchester, with its vibrant Franco-American heritage, was a perfect setting.

Many thanks to NHAWLT for having invited me to present and to the AATF-NH for their warm welcome, and special thanks to those who attended my session.

Global Learning in Foreign Language Instruction: More Than Just Talk — I can hardly believe a year has passed!

I can hardly believe that a year has passed since I had the privilege to present on “Global Learning in Foreign Language Instruction: More Than Just Talk,” in NAFSA’s Architecture for Global Learning Series.

Many thanks to NAFSA for this opportunity.

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Kathy Moderating a Panel Discussion on Bilingualism at the 2018 NYC Bilingual Fair

I am so happy to share with you that I attended the 2018 NYC Bilingual Fair yesterday where I had the privilege of moderating a panel discussion on fostering bilingualism in the home.

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In addition to my own panel, I especially enjoyed the awards ceremony recognizing the winners of the essay contest, with essays written by middle school and high school students on how bilingualism has affected their lives. I was honored to have been invited to participate in the evaluation process and was greatly impressed by the quality and depth of feeling in virtually all of the many essays I read.

Several high-ranking French government officials, including Anne-Claire Legendre,  Consul General of France in New York, presented the awards, adding to the significance of the experience for the young winners.

The sessions, including one on “the benefits of a bilingual brain,” were interesting and informative,  and the extensive exhibit area was impressive.

Many thanks to the panelists and to all who attended our session, especially to the many parents present.

Special thanks to Emmanuel Saint-Martin, French Morning, and the entire NYC Bilingual Fair team.

The beautiful School of Law on Fordham University’s Lincoln Center campus was the perfect setting for an inspirational event.

Languages do matter!