Q&A with Michael Erard

When and how did you get your start in language/linguistics?

Enhancing Homeschool and Host Family Environments through Language Learning

Being a homeschool educator to five boys, I consider our family dynamic to be unique. We also frequently host international students visiting the U.S. to learn about our culture and customs. The opportunity to act as a host family for international students came about several years ago when Wheaton Academy, where my husband Paul currently serves as Director of Admissions, started an international student host program and inquired if we would like to participate.

Will Arabic Be the Language of the Future?

By language of the future, I do not intend to mean a universal language in which both humans and machines will use to interact in a world of increasing proliferation of artificial intelligence. Nor do I aim to suggest that Arabic would be the lingua franca of the 22nd century. To put forward a claim of this sort would require me to delve into the rather dreary details of demographic predictions and politico-economic arrangements of the world. I am more interested in some esoteric aspects of the Arabic language itself.

Top Foreign Languages Students Should Learn This School Year

Now that the kids are back in school, it’s a great time to start planning which extracurricular programs and activities to add to their daily academic and afterschool routines. While there’s no doubt that your student would benefit from kicking the ball around at soccer practice or learning poise and posture from a ballet class, when it comes to foreign language study, the clock is ticking—and there’s no better opportunity than right now to add learning a new language to their educational resume.

The Importance of Culture in Amplifying Student Language Learning Online

In China, people have long held great respect for teachers. The philosopher Confucius was a distinguished scholar and teacher who believed that “education should be for all, irrespective of their social status.” If he were living in today’s world, which is dubbed the “global village,” he would probably add, “irrespective of their cultural backgrounds.”

7 Untranslatable Words and Sayings That Will Make You Want to Learn a New Language

It is no secret that international travel and exposure to foreign cultures can considerably broaden one’s views of the world—but what about learning to speak a new language? Does foreign language acquisition require learners to change their usual thought processes in order to think like a native speaker of that language? 
Many linguists support the idea that different regions influence the culture and thought processes of their inhabitants, and that these unique ways of thinking are exemplified in the language that we use to express our thoughts.

Developing Second Language Proficiency Online

It’s the first day of school. The bell rings, the lockers slam. Students are dressed in the new clothes specially set aside for the day, and giggling and chatter fill the air. Teens scramble to claim the perfect seat, the seat they hope to claim for the year. The bell rings and the teacher is looking at twenty plus sets of eyes. Expectations are high. What are they thinking? I’m so excited to learn to write an email in Spanish.

Vermont Students Acquire Spanish Language Skills in Record Time

I knew it was going to be a memorable day when we drove past the moose-crossing sign on the winding, mountainous and picturesque roads of Vermont. As a multicultural, bilingual citizen of the world, I have experienced large cities and polyglot environments, but never had I come face to face with the culture of moose. I crossed my fingers and mentally called the moose to come forth.

But, Everyone Speaks English!

As language educators, we often find ourselves in the position of defending our profession. For most of us, the following phrase is like fingernails across a chalkboard: “Everyone speaks English, so why do I have to learn [insert language here]?”

First, it is simply not true. Native speakers of English make up only about five percent of the world’s population. The total number of people who speak English as a first or second language is a mere 11.8 percent. Clearly, not everyone speaks English.


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