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The Humanities Conference 2003

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The Internet, Foreign Languages and the Humanities

Martine Guyot-Bender.

It is no less that an absurd paradox to see the decrease in the study of foreign languages in the US when the world is, as we all can witness, becoming more and more global. In a period of zapping and short attention span, learning a foreign language might seem an investment that is not worth the effort. After all, some think, in a few decades (years?) everyone will communicate in English, and there will be no need to learn any other language at all. A mono-lingual world might just be what the world will become.
My paper explores ways to interest students –and the public at large—in the authentic representation of languages through popular internet sites. Taking the example of Francophone sites, I will show how the sensibility to other cultures/languages can be increased through virtual contact with other geographical places. My exploration will not only use language, but also graphics, music etc found on Internet. I do not want to pretend that Internet will make students learn a language faster, but that the contact with regularly updated pages is a productive way of making evident the relevance of recognizing (then learning) foreign languages to avoid, before it is too late, a new neo-colonialism.


Martine Guyot-Bender  (United States)

Department of French
Hamilton College

Martine Guyot-Bender did her undergraduate degree in English in France, and her graduate degree at the University of Oregon (USA). She has been teaching Twentieth Century French literature and culture at Hamilton College since 1991. She has published on Patrick Modiano, Assia Djebar, and recently on Popular culture in France. Her current research focuses on the use of the media in the teaching of French and in the general recognition of foreign cultures.

  • Internet
  • English
  • Foreign Languages
  • Colonialism

(30 min Conference Paper, English)