Resolution 890: Hearing of the New York City Council’s Education Committee on November 22, 2016

I spoke yesterday in favor of more multilingual education and dual language programs in public schools at a hearing of the NYC Council’s Education Committee. Here is my testimonial. Continue reading

French Heritage Language Vitality in the United States

French heritage language speakers in the United States face multiple challenges as they attempt to maintain French as a living language, despite the fact that French is one of the most commonly studied foreign languages in the country (second in the list of most common languages offered in elementary and secondary schools after Spanish, and before Latin, German, and Chinese). The case of French is particularly interesting, because French heritage language speakers represent several distinct geographic populations and different historical circumstances, from recent immigrants to settlements dating back several centuries. Franco-Americans and Acadians in Maine and Cajuns in Louisiana serve as examples of revitalization efforts to protect and encourage the vitality of French as an indigenous language. Continue reading

The influence of U.S. foundations in Africa and the reinforced dominance of English

The discourse on priorities in African higher education is placed in a contested terrain, where grantors and grantees not only negotiate one another’s perspectives but also contend with inhospitable national contexts. In certain African countries, governments do not necessarily encourage the development of universities or international donors who are not overtly cooperative. Much to their credit, U.S. foundations have helped universities become self-sustainable and less dependent on government funding. They also succeeded in raising awareness about higher education in Africa as a sector worthy of financial support, thus making the case for Africa’s universities in national and international contexts. However, these foundations did not engage sufficiently with non-English speaking institutions, even when this was important to generate more equity and sustainability on the very sector that they sought to promote. Continue reading

Speakers of French in the United-States

The latest U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey reports that 1,301,443 people in the U.S. speak French at home.This includes speakers of French dialects, such as Patois and Cajun, who are over 5 years old. In fact, French is the fifth most common non-English language spoken in U.S. households, after Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Tagalog. Continue reading

Language and U.S. Philanthropy in Africa

The mechanisms of international philanthropy and foreign investment are extremely complex. Africa’s ecology of donors is composed of numerous international agencies, development funds, international foundations, and pan-African organizations that allocate their funds based on a number of environmental and institutional factors. These funds, however, are limited, and grantees oftentimes find themselves competing for resources. Donors thus wield a huge amount of power, shaping the development of the continent through their grant-making practices. This unbalanced relationship between grantors and grantees does not go by unnoticed, and American foundations are often criticized for enforcing a pro-Western agenda as they unilaterally set development goals and priorities. Meanwhile, recent literature on African higher education suggests that African scholars are calling for more ownership in the inception and implementation of programs so as to serve the cause of African development, not Westernization. Continue reading

Prix de la Diversité Culturelle for Bilingual Education and Promotion of French in New York

On March 20, 2016, I was honored with the Prix de la Diversité Culturelle, awarded by the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie and the Committee of French-speaking Ambassadors to the United Nations for my work in bilingual education – aka the Bilingual Revolution – and my efforts to promote French in New York. Continue reading

[video] Conference “Living with Two languages: the Advantages of Being Bilingual”

What’s the best age to start and master a new language? Are bilingual students smarter? Does knowing two languages offer advantages in learning how to read, write and do math? Does being bilingual have an impact on our personal and emotional development? These themes, and many more, were addressed during the daylong conference, Living with Two Languages: the Advantages of Being Bilingual, at the Lycée Français de New York on Saturday, April 13. Experts from the United States, France and Canada, including renowned researchers, Ofelia García and Ellen Bialystok, author Karen Le Billon, and chef Eric Ripert, explored bilingualism from the perspectives of education, sociology, psychology and gastronomy. Continue reading