Language Matters

Kathleen Stein Smith, Ph.D

Monthly Archives: March 2020

Visiting the world while we’re @ home — Why we learn other languages — It’s all about the people!

While we are spending time @ home due to the conronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic, it is  an opportunity to spend some of this time learning another language.

However, you may ask why — why not spend that time developing some other skill, or just relaxing at home?

The reason is our interest and curiosity about others — about how and where they live, how they spend their leisure time, and even what they eat!

Our interest in others –whether they live in faraway places or right next door, or whether they live in our memories as family members of past generations —   is the perfect reason to learn more about them through their language — through their stories, songs, and conversations.

As the experts tell us that motivation is the best predictor of a successful language learning outcome, the first step in getting in the mood for language learning is to visit a place you have always wanted to visit!

While we may not be travelling just now, the following are a few of the free online travel resources available online —

Building Roads through French-Speaking New England

Burgundy: Profoundly French

A Guide to Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, Quebec

Louisiana Joins the Francophonie

The Louvre: Online Tours

Paris Vacation Travel Guide

Quebec Vacation Travel Guide

Transport Yourself to Monet’s Magical Giverny with This Free Virtual Tour

Languages do matter!


To read more about language learning @ home —

Spending more time at home? It’s an opportunity to learn a new language!


Spending more time at home? It’s an opportunity to learn a new language!

Even as the days grow longer and spring is in the air, we are spending more time at home because of the current coronavirus/COVID 19 pandemic.

In addition to working from home and watching endless movies and TV shows, we can also try to make the best of the situation and to learn a new skill, and what skill is more useful in the globalized and interconnected world than knowledge of other languages and cultures?

Although the closures of libraries and bookstores may have taken us by surprise, leaving us without an array of language learning books and CDs at home, there are many resources available online to help both the beginner, as well as the more advanced learner interested in improving their skills.

Even for the majority of us, for whom cost is a factor, the good news is that many of these resources are free! Some are entirely free, others are partially free, but charge for additional functionalities, and still others are temporarily free until further notice during the global health crisis.  Your public or academic library may also subscribe to online language learning services, ebooks, audiobooks, and streaming video/movies online that are free for members of their community.

The following are just a few of the many available (in alphabetical order) —

9 Places to Learn a New Language Online for Free

The 10 Best French Movies on Netflix for French Learners

10 Netflix shows to learn French with

49 Free Language Learning Websites That Are Almost Too Good to Be True

The Best Feel Good Films about France


Compilation de Ressources Gratuites en Français / Best-Off Free Online Resources in French

Confinement: 10 French Films and Series to Watch on Netflix —

Destinos: An Introduction to Spanish

Duolingo —

Elementary Spanish I — Open & Free —

Extra French (Extra series available in 4 languages) —  Extra French episode 1 –


Family-Friendly French Movies to Watch Online

Fluent in 3 Months

Français intensif

French in Action —

French TV Shows for Preschoolers Available Online

Immerse Yourself in French Culture at Home

Le Journal en français facile

Lawless French

Learn French from Home


Open Culture


The Top 10 Easy to Understand French Movies

TV5Monde:  Apprendre le français


Read more on language learning @ home —

Researching la France/en français @ home? Tips to up your scholarly game —

The @ home language learner’s tool kit

Visiting the world while we’re @ home — Why we learn other languages — It’s all about the people!

Why we should learn another language while we’re spending more time @ home


Languages do matter!






Over 40,000 views of my articles on foreign language learning in “The Conversation” — Thank you, all!

Over 40,000 views of my articles on foreign languages and foreign language learning in “The Conversation” — I am honored and humbled — Thank you, all!

My most recent article, “7 reasons to learn a foreign language,” just published in December 2019, has had  over 17,000 views.

7 reasons

You can read the entire article —

My earlier article, “Foreign language classes becoming scarce,” published in February 2019, has had nearly 23,000 views.

foreign languages scarce

You can read the entire article —

In addition to reaching such an impressive number of thoughtful readers, both articles resulted in radio interviews, interesting experiences in themselves, but — much more importantly, the means to reach an additional audience, the vast number of radio listeners, with the message of the importance of language skills, of an early start to continued language learning, of immersion programs, and of parents and communities as partners in the language enterprise.

You can listen to the radio interviews —

KSS and Tanzina Vega 02-19-19

“Fewer Americans Have the Option to Learn a Foreign Language in School,” with Tanzina Vega on “The Takeaway.”

With Arnie Arnesen on “The Attitude.”

“American Colleges Have Dropped Hundreds Of Foreign Language Programs In Recent Years,” on “The Morning Show” with Kate Archer Kent.

Many thanks to the children, parents, educators, advocates, toall the language stakeholders who have inspired me, to “The Conversation,” to the radio hosts who welcomed me, and to my friends and colleagues at the AATF (American Association of Teachers of French) Commission on Advocacy.

Special thanks to all my readers and listeners!  🙂

Languages do matter!