The French language and culture have been a part of Georges Detiveaux’s life as a child in Louisiana to a language technologist and French professor at Lone Star College-CyFair and most recently to being knighted as a Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Palmes Académiques.
Napoleon created the academic honor which the French Government awards to those who make significant contributions to academics and the expansion of French culture throughout the world. The honor is one of the world’s oldest orders of knighthood still in existence and consists of three grades: Chevalier (knight), Officier (officer) and Commandeur (commander).
At a recent Houston ceremony held at the home of Sid Moorhead, a longtime friend and fellow Francophile, Patrice Vanoni, Cultural Attaché for the Consulate of France in Houston, awarded Detiveaux the Chevalier honor which included a certificate and a silver medal with a purple ribbon (known as the ruban violet).
Detiveaux said the call with news of this particular honor came as a tremendous surprise. He’s always found enough reward in just helping other instructors, K-12 school districts and institutions of higher education improve their language programs and use of technology in language teaching and learning.
“Knowing that I played a part, however small, in making something better has always been good enough for me. I just see doing all that I do as who I am and why I’m here,” said Detiveaux, who created LSC-CyFair’s French program and has the distinction of having taught the first word of French at LSC-CyFair in the fall of 2003. “That I have been recognized by France for my contributions to promoting French language and culture is the icing on the cake!”
While at LSC-CyFair, Detiveaux has doubled the size of the Language Lab and transformed it into the college system’s only full-service language technology center and one of the premier such facilities in Texas. He recently established the Xi Gamma Chapter of Alpha Mu Gamma (the National Foreign Language Honor Society) at the Barker Cypress campus. He also supports all instructional technology used in the language labs, as well as multidisciplinary faculty training and support for instructional innovation through the college’s Teaching and Learning Center.
“Even though my full-time position has me managing computer labs and handling faculty training, I still teach a French class every fall and spring, since that’s where my true passion is,” he said. “Also, I’m a firm believer that you can’t be an advocate for teaching and learning with technology if you don’t practice what you preach, so the classroom and our great French students are somewhat of a living laboratory for me ... they keep me open to all kinds of fresh and new possibilities that I’d never stumble upon otherwise.”
In addition to his work on campus, Detiveaux was a past national representative to the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) for the International Association for Language Learning Technology’s (IALLT). He is currently the immediate past president of the Houston Chapter of the American Association of Teachers of French (AATF) which has some 150 members. He is also incoming president of the South Central Association for Language Learning Technology (SOCALLT) which is a six-state professional association for language technologists, lab directors, and language teachers interested in technology.
Through his participation in AATF and SOCALLT, Detiveaux’s been able to work with language teachers across the United States delivering workshops and training sessions on various topics in language teaching and technology at conferences and school district in-service meetings. In recent years, he’s also worked closely with the French Consulate to help plan and deliver events in celebration of March’s French Cultures Festival (le Mois de la Francophonie), a month-long celebration of French language and cultures that happens all over the world.
“I suppose that one of the reasons I chose to teach French is that some of my fondest memories of my mother are of her teaching me French with the Sears catalog as a learning tool: back then, it had a picture of everything you could imagine,” he said. “I don’t have children so I think of my students as my children and pass on my knowledge to them.”
For information on LSC-CyFair’s French courses, e-mail Georges.J.Detiveaux@LoneStar.edu or call 281.290.5975.