Language Matters

Kathleen Stein Smith, Ph.D

Monthly Archives: December 2019

New Year’s resolutions for a new decade — Learn a foreign language!

New Year’s resolutions for a new decade — Learn a foreign language!
If you are a foreign language educator or enthusiast, or a parent or community leader wishing to maintain a heritage language, please make every effort to promote foreign language learning and use in our schools and communities in the new year.
There are so many ways to make additional languages part of our lives — in the classroom, in the workplace,  in our communities and personal lives, and as global citizens!
Whether we use our imagination and creativity to make authentic learning part of every class, whether we work to make use of languages in addition to English part of our community and social life, or whether we build career pathways to give our students the opportunity to maximize their foreign language skills as a professional asset, let’s make the resurgence of foreign languages the highlight and goal of the new year and the new decade.
As foreign language educators, language services professionals, and as parents and citizens, we can work together to bring about a resurgence of foreign languages in the US.
7 reasons
Languages do matter!

Thank you all! Almost 31,000 (21K and 10K each) views for my articles on The Conversation!

Thank you all! Almost 31,000 (21K and 10K each) views for my articles on The Conversation!
7 reasons
Languages do matter!

Radio interview on “The Attitude w/Arne Arnesen

Special thanks to Arne Arnesen and the team at WNHN for taking the time to speak with me and for getting the word out on the importance of foreign language learning for our children.

WNHN New Hampshire Radio 2 12-18-19

“We speak with Kathleen Stein Smith, from Fairleigh Dickinson University and editor of the blog “Language Matters.” We discuss some of the many reasons why it’s important that our children learn one or more foreign languages, especially at a young age.”

Read more and listen to the interview @                                       

Languages do matter!


Nearly 3,000 views on the first day! Thank you all!!!

Thank you all, and many thanks to Jamaal and to The Conversation.

Conversation Home Page 12-17-19






Conversation ed page 12-17-19

7 reasons to learn a foreign language

I am thrilled to be published once again in The Conversation!

7 reasons

“Think of all the people here in the U.S. (well over 60 million), around the world (75% of the world population), and online whom we are able to talk to if we speak their languages.”

Read more @

Languages do matter!

French Language and Francophone Culture in the US at Christmastime, and All the Time

The arrival of The Nutcracker ballet – with its famous pas de deux — in New York City’s Lincoln Center and in venues across the US is one of the first signs of the arrival of the holiday season.

As if the storied New York City Christmas were not already sufficiently French in inspiration, Bryant Park’s Le Carrousel, along with le Réveillon, champagne, chocolates, bûche de Noël, and French cuisine available both in formal restaurants and cozy bistrots and cafés throughout the city, would totally confirm it. A French Marché de Noël from Alsace has joined Le District in developing a French ambiance in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty, that most iconic of gifts from the people of France to the people of the United States, and you are more than likely to hear French as you select your sapin de Noël from an assortment of beautiful trees from Québec.

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Image source

Beyond New York, a French-inspired Christmas can be found in cities and towns across the country, including but not limited to New Orleans with its Réveillon dinners and Christmas King Cake, French Quarter holiday lights, and heritage home tours, and Chicago, with the Chicago French Market’s Marché de Noël. In historic Ste Genevieve, the holiday Christmas celebration includes croquinoles and Le Réveillon, a French Christmas at the Felix Valle Historic Site. Franco-American celebrations may include both Chansons de Noël and Cantiques de Noël, and the réveillon may include tourtière.


Image source

Beyond the US, a Christmas spent in Québec, with the Francophones de l’Atlantique, or in the French Caribbean offers a unique experience, combining French heritage with local québécoises, acadiennes, or tropical traditions. A traditional Noël can be celebrated in nearby Québec City, with la messe de minuiten français, at the Basilique, and the traditional tourtière as part of the Réveillon. A Christmas visit could even include an opportunity to sample tire d’érable, a foretaste of le Carnaval de Québec. In the French Caribbean, Christmas in Martinique or Guadeloupe may include a jambon de noël, as the centerpiece of tropical réveillon, and locally-inspired Christmas carols.

This abundance of French language and Francophone cultural traditions around us continues through le Jour de l’An, la Fête des Rois, and le Carnaval/Mardi Gras, and beyond.

While the internet has increased our ability to observe and to learn about French and Francophone cultures and traditions both here at home and around the world, a holiday visit and actual time spent sur place is unique and irreplaceable, and the experience is made even more memorable en français.

The key takeaway is that French language and Francophone culture are around us, not only during the holidays, but throughout the year, and that French can and should be part of our lives, not just at Christmas and holiday time, but all the time.