French Embassy Cultural Counselor, Bénédicte de Montlaur, on the importance of foreign-language education

The French Embassy’s Cultural Counselor, Bénédicte de Montlaur recently published an op-ed in the New York Times (read here) and spoke on WNYC’s “The Brian Lehrer Show” (listen here) about the impact of declining access to language education and the promise of recent approaches to the problem.  Describing the benefits of bilingualism in contrast to the defunding of foreign language programs in schools and colleges across the United States, Ms. Montlaur calls on everybody, from the government to the parent, to recognize the importance of a multilingual education in the context of globalization. 

The French government has long played a role in the support of French language programs in the United States. As cultural counselor of the French Embassy, Ms. de Montlaur has spearheaded the creation and development of the French Dual Language Fund, inaugurated by President Emmanuel Macron in 2017, which supports bilingual programs in public schools in the United States. 

"The necessity of foreign-language education could not be clearer right now. The future in America, and everywhere, is multilingual. And so is the present." — Bénédicte de Montlaur, Cultural Counselor of the French Embassy

Bringing the foreign-lanugage education debate to the students themselves, the New York Times asked students to respond to the op-ed.  Here is what they had to say:

"As Americans we have started becoming more reluctant to learning more languages than our own because it has become normal for others to learn out language before they try to communicate with anybody in the US. The less that we learn other languages, the less we will be able to communicate and have a first hand experience with other cultures." — Ryan Blevins, Arkansas

"In a world that is so connected by technology, and in the United States which is a melting pot of different cultures, it is a necessity to be multilingual in order to be able to communicate and learn from one another." — Mealakey, Providence

"Learning a foreign language and getting soaked into an entirely new culture and worldview is the surest way to become an open-minded, understanding, tolerant individual, and that is absolutely priceless." — Mahbub 3A

Read more reactions here

Image courtesy of The New York Times.