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Kristin Espinasse, La Médaille d’Or des Valeurs Francophones

Kristin is married to a Frenchman and has raised her children in the French countryside. While this was a dream come true, during this time she longed for interaction with fellow Anglophones. She discovered blogging, a new means of communication at the time, enabling her to share anecdotes from her family life, thus transmitting French culture from an American point of view. This was the beginning of her popular French Word-A-Day.

The first "French word of the day" was posted in 2002. Early on she received an email from an American prompting her to start sending the words via email and the newsletter was born, and growing to 48,000 members in the next decade.

She eventually printed a book to enable non-internet users to read the French word journal from afar. High school teachers wrote in to say they were using French Word-A-Day in their classrooms.... A woman in New York wrote to tell her she was reading the French-filled stories to her terminally ill father who took comfort in the anecdotes... A man in India sent thanks for the variety of vocabulary.... a French-born living in California said the words helped her keep up with her native tongue.

In 2005 an editor from Simon and Schuster proposed gathering the stories into a book. Words in a French Life: Lessons in Love and Language from the South of France was published, allowing a larger group of Francophiles to find French Word-A-Day. The books Blossoming in Provence and First French 'Essais' followed, and a memoir, The Lost Gardens.

Additionally, she has written for France Today Magazine since 2005, and became their Backpage Columnist: Le Dernier Mot is an ongoing personal essay salt and peppered with French, with its own vocabulary section at the end.

Kristin has spoken at Shakespeare and Company bookstore in Paris, the American Library and at Alliance Française gatherings in Seattle, Portland, San Francisco and Denver.

The French Word-A-Day blog will soon celebrate its 20th anniversary. What gives her the most satisfaction is the diversity in readership. A 96-year-old reader recently wrote to inform her that he is still reading the blog and yearns to get back to France very soon.


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