Language and Culture Institute


The Institute firmly believes that in an increasingly globalized world, studying world languages is the gateway to opening minds, transcending prejudices and increasing understanding of one’s own culture by developing appreciation for others. Be the goal professional or educational, and the purpose travel, business or leisure, learning a world language is a source of pleasure and mutual understanding. Hence, our goal is to create a vibrant cross-generational community of learners coming together to develop cultural awareness through a unique language experience.

Salon Series

Our 2020-2021 Salon Series offers thought-provoking cross-cultural perspectives to explore The Future of Free Speech and Identity & Justice. There are two separate and year-long courses divided into 3 terms that can be taken independently or for the full year.  Full-year registration is offered at a discounted rate. View Flyer.

Courses take into account participants’ interests and global current events, using the most up-to-date and cross-disciplinary materials: a true pilates of the mind, as one participant called itDaytime or evening classes for adults and Upper School students Spring 2021 Registration

After School

Weekly language classes for 6 to 10-year old children

This spring students in Chinese will discover the richness of culture, enjoy delicious food and learn how to think in the language. Spring 2021 Registration

Institute Policies and Registration Sessions

Refund: Withdrawals after the first class are nonrefundable

Spring Session: May 6-June 18, 2021

About the Instructor

Anne Protopappas joined The Spence faculty in the fall of 1998. A French native speaker of Greek and Vietnamese origin, Anne was raised and educated in Paris where she majored in Chinese and Japanese languages at the Institut des Langues et Civilisations Orientales as well as Political Philosophy, Economics and Constitutional Law at Sciences PoParis. Anne’s graduate work specialized in Asian Studies and Comparative Politics at the Beijing Language & Culture University and the School of International Affairs at Columbia, where she is currently working on her doctoral dissertation titled Genealogies of Colonizing States: Cultural Assimilation, Citizenship and National Identity in the French and Japanese Empires. Anne’s teaching career demonstrates a longstanding commitment to women’s education, with experience teaching all levels of French language, literature and post-colonial history at Mount Holyoke and Barnard Colleges and The Brearley and The Spence Schools. Throughout her 20 year-tenure at Spence, Anne has worked to weave language and civic global awareness inside and outside the classroom by integrating the study of history and current events into her French and Chinese curriculums; through her role as Model UN faculty advisor and mentor to the Debate Club; and by contributing to Assemblies and School events on issues of global relevance as early as the 2003 Spence Teach-In series prompted by the Iraq War. In her most recent role as Coordinator of the Language & Culture Institute, Anne uses her training in philosophy, multicultural history and global ethics to sharpen the focus on language and cultural identity and develop a cross-cultural and multidisciplinary framework for the Salon classes and overall programs. Having also studied Modern and African dance and classical music—cello and piano—Anne deeply values Spence’s genuine commitment to a liberal arts education for girls.

ABOUT section

“I was particularly impressed by how thorough your presentation of a balanced view on the topic of free speech in the French and American contexts and how timely in the aftermath of our recent U.S. elections and upcoming French elections... I was particularly moved by your discussion about identity, the distinction between fact and opinion, and the issue of freedom of speech vs. freedom of expression.”
— Class Participant

"I have made many attempts to learn the French language…but none of the classes I took… taught me what I learned through this class, namely "Frenchness:" how the French think, their intellectual history and how that thinking shapes their culture. This knowledge led me to comprehend that my "truths" are not universal but are shaped, as in France, by how I was raised in the United States and the cultural history I inherited. I am so very grateful for this opportunity to stretch my mind, and I could not be prouder of Spence for standing behind their motto: "not for school but for life we learn." 
— Class Participant