To make students aware of the diversity of languages present in the United States. To encourage students to communicate with non-native speakers of English. To allow students to gain a better understanding of the difficulties non-English students experience in the U.S. To increase awareness of the overall diversity in the U.S. and foster an appreciation for the differences.
~ Computer with Internet Access Activity 1: ~ Dictionary Activity 2: ~ Foreign Newspapers Activity 3: ~ Paper and Pencil ~ Foreign Language Dictionary Activity 4: ~ Foreign Language Teacher
Since 1820, more than 40 million people have immigrated to the United States. Immigrants come to the United States to: - live freely - to have freedom of religion - to have economic freedom - to have a better life - …and some, such as slaves, were brought to America by force. Why Are There So Many Languages? http://www.worldalmanacforkids.com/explore/population5.html
When all of these immigrants came to the United States, they brought with them their cultures and traditions from their home country. This introduced a variety of religions, family structures, political and educational ideas, and… Languages!! Today, there are over 150 languages spoken in the U.S. http://www.ethnologue.com/country_index.asp
About 10% of people living in the United States today were born in a foreign country. Many of these people do not understand English very well, but they can speak another language fluently. Some of these people who do not understand or speak English are children, who must attend school. http://www.ethnicharvest.org/mission/immigratnfacts.htm
There are 3.5 million non-English speaking students in U.S. schools. These students speak over 100 different languages. When these children are at school, they have many difficulties understanding teachers and peers. This interferes with these students’ ability to understand what is being taught, which affects their performance. It is very frustrating when one cannot understand what is being said by those around him or her. http://www.whatkidscando.org/intheirownwords/whoamiintro.html
By acknowledging and understanding some of the difficulties non- English speaking students experience, we can become more supportive and tolerant of them. We can offer help to those who do not speak or understand English and not be critical of them when they make mistakes. Like all things, learning a new language takes a lot of practice!! One way we can help non-English speaking students is to show an interest in their culture. We can learn about their religion, foods, and schools. We might also ask them to teach us how to speak their language! Learn about Mexican culture at: http://www.arts-history.mx/indexn.html
Activity 1 While languages appear to be very different from one another, many languages share similarities with each other. Go to the website http://www.exploratorium.edu/exploring/language/related_languages.html http://www.exploratorium.edu/exploring/language/related_languages.html Try to find similarities in the languages. What makes these languages similar? What makes them different? How does the word “hand” show similarities in different languages?
Many languages come from the same origins, or beginnings. Write down a list of five words. Then look them up in a dictionary and discover where these words originated. How did the word “window” originate? Write down a hypothesis, or an educated guess, that could explain how these words developed into what they are today. Languages that share the same origins might have close similarities today. How might this help a person learning a new language?
Find some foreign newspapers that are in different languages, such as French, Spanish, German, Italian, Chinese, or Dutch. Look through these newspapers, trying to determine what the articles are talking about. Look for context clues, such as drawings, maps, or photos. You might also recognize words that resemble English words. With other students, discuss what you learned by looking through these newspapers.
Try to imagine how a non-English speaker might feel in the U.S. if they cannot read a newspaper. Were you able to make guesses as to what the newspapers were saying? What helped you? Try to imagine how a non-English speaker might feel in the U.S. if they cannot read a newspaper. How might you feel if you were in a foreign country and could not read the newspapers there.
When two people from different countries are together, language is oftentimes a barrier. This prevents them from being able to communicate through speech. Usually, when a person is in a foreign country, they find themselves lost because they are limited by communication. Immigrants to the U.S. are faced by this situation everyday, at work, school, the grocery store, churches, and even in their own homes when they are watching T.V. Now, imagine yourself having immigrated to a foreign country where the people do not speak English.
Begin a journal or diary entry, imagining the feelings you might have. Describe your frustrations as you struggle with communicating and understanding those around you. In a foreign country, you must attempt to begin learning the language. Learning such phrases as “thank you”, “Where is the restroom”, or “I am hungry” is extremely useful. Now, go to the web site: http://www.epals.com/translation/translation.e (You can also use a foreign language dictionary). Here, you can search for words and phrases in a foreign language. Write these phrases in your journal. Now imagine having to learn an entire language!
Have you ever wanted to travel to a foreign country? Ask a foreign language teacher to come into your classroom. This teacher is fluent in another language, such as French, German, or Spanish. Have him or her teach you how to say common phrases that would be helpful when talking to a speaker of that language. You might learn how to say “car” (la voiture), “dog” (le chien), or “I went to school” (Je suis allé à l’ecole) in French. If you ever chose to study a foreign language, you will learn that this is a very useful skill. It will help you both in the U.S., when speaking to foreigners, and if you travel abroad.
After you have learned some new words, begin a personal dictionary. Write down the words you have learned. Each time you learn a new word in a different language, write it down. When you meet students that speak a foreign language, ask them to help you add new words.
While the majority of people communicate through speech, some people are deaf, which means they communicate through a language known as sign language. Sign language is just like any other language, except that people use their hands to indicate words and meanings. Go to the web page http://where.com/scott.net/asl/ http://where.com/scott.net/asl/ Here you can learn how to sign the alphabet. What word is spelled out below? Take the Fingerspelling Quiz to see how well you were able to learn the alphabet.
Now, with other students, try to communicate with each other by signing words to each other. How well could you understand each other? Sign language creates a unique way for those people with hearing disabilities to communicate with the world. What is the word spelled out below? Try communicating with your friends through sign language for awhile. Imagine not being able to hear. It is just as easy for deaf people to communicate through sign language as it is for you to speak English!
Listen to a radio or T.V. broadcast in a foreign language at: http://www.cortland.edu/flteach/flteach-res.html Explore numerous languages, including Russian and Japanese, at: http://www.sussex.ac.uk/languages/1-6-4.html View newspaper and magazine articles in foreign languages at: http://libraries.mit.edu/guides/types/flnews/ Read about a multicultural “American English” at: http://www.tolerance.org/pt/index.html
The diversity of languages in the U.S. contributes to the uniqueness of our country. By helping others learn English and by showing an interest in others’ languages and cultures, we can truly appreciate our nation’s diversity.