First of all a range of language samples need to be collected. These can be both in written and spoken forms. Pupils may be able to help by recording and writing in their mother tongues. Alternatively the internet provides many opportunities to gather samples.
Here are just a few examples:
BBC World Service – http://www.bbc.co.uk/ws/languages
The Story of the Tower of Babel in different languages – http://www.omniglot.com/babel/index.htm
Front pages of newspapers from around the world – http://www.newseum.org/todaysfrontpages/
Radio Stations from around the world – http://www.mikesradioworld.com/
- How many different languages are spoken in your class, school, local community?
- Imagine that you are in a room where all of the languages of the world are spoken. How many languages could you identify ? How many could your class as a whole identify ? Find out how to say hello in lots of different languages.
You can be a language detective using postcards and what’s the language .
More language samples to identify:
- Get pupils to look at samples of language in their written and spoken forms. What are their characteristics? Script? Sound? Common words?
- If your school has pupils who speak different languages make a class tape. Exchange it with another class from within the school or from another school. How many languages can the class, as a whole, recognise ?
- Make a class display of all of the languages that pupils can gather from different sources.
Middle East: http://www.geonames.de/native_mideast.jpg
The teacher cuts and pastes language samples
The following activities involve the teacher in cutting and pasting language samples into a word document or sound file.
- Take a question in several different languages. Match it to the appropriate answer from the same selection of languages.
- Make a language identification sheet with written samples of a range of languages. Use the sheet to identify another selection of samples from other sources.
Set up language identification parade. Play the class a language sample. Hide another sample of the same language amongst samples of another 3 languages. Can the pupils pick out the correct language?
Quia online activities
20 different ways to say hello – http://www.quia.com/jg/359576.html
Countries in Greek – http://www.quia.com/jg/362593.html
The words for 10 different languages – http://www.quia.com/jg/359575.htm
The Tower of Babel 1 – http://www.quia.com/jg/359578.html
The Tower of Babel 2 – http://www.quia.com/jg/359583.html
Different scripts – http://www.quia.com/jg/359599.html
Countries in Russian – http://www.quia.com/jg/362591.html
Two simulations in which pupils apply their skills in identifying languages
Imagine that you have been kidnapped, blindfolded and forced to wear ear muffs. You are then transported to another country. You then have to identify the language of the country of destination from a range of linguistic artefacts such as a radio broadcast, a newspaper, and road signs ( it makes sense to use a language that the pupils have already experienced). This could be tried out with various pupils / groups at various stages throughout the year.
Prepare a briefcase with a range of different objects artefacts which relate to its owner and what its owner is doing. These might include; phrase books, diary, letters, tickets and ID cards. Everything in the briefcase will be in a foreign language. The task of the students will be to answer a series of questions:
- Identity of the person ?
- What are they doing?
What is the best way of reconnecting them with the briefcase?
Language tools – where to go when I don’t know !
If you cannot recognise a language, use an online language identifier
If you cannot understand a word, use this multilingual dictionary resource
Some additional resources to support the identification of languages
Here are a range of resources in different languages