Activities for World Language Class
- Teach your students about languages as a linked network of communication. If you begin with French, teach them which words are similar to Italian and why. You can then teach them about Italian, and the words Italians borrowed from Arabs. You can then teach them about Arabic. This can continue through Farsi, Sanskrit and so on, as you teach children how languages link together. This will help them to learn the history of languages and the interaction between them.
- A language is an integral part of a culture. Learning someone's language is a window onto their culture. Use idiomatic sayings to explain how a culture thinks. For example, a French idiom for someone ambitious is, "he has long teeth." Allow the children to speculate on why this idiom may have evolved. The actual origin of the idiom is rooted in the idea of hunger. Originally the saying meant someone who was hungry, although this has since changed to someone who shows ambition. Learning idioms such as these will be an engaging way that children can understand a culture.
- Study a world language on the day of an important festival. Chinese New Year, Bastille Day and Ramadan are all times when you can study a language and its culture. Studying the festival gives you a window into the culture. You can bring in the traditional food of the celebration to make a lesson more engaging. This is a useful tool to also study the history of a language and a culture as well as just the language itself.
- Ask each student to make a presentation about a culture and a language. You can ask the students to do this in groups or individually. This will mean that there is a student-led discussion, and they will be fully engaged with the subject. Ask the groups to prepare a short dialogue in the language to perform. This is a way of covering several languages in the space of a short lesson, and allow children to gain a taste of other languages.