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Grade: Middle
Subject: Language

#4070. Language Evolution

Language, level: Middle
Posted Tue Dec 18 10:10:43 PST 2007 by Todd Phillips (
Hope College, Holland, USA
Materials Required: Many index cards or similarly sized pieces of paper
Activity Time: approx 20 Min
Concepts Taught: the dynamic nature of language

To address the idea that language is a changing and evolving entity, I did an open word sort in which I wrote down on index cards a few words that had recently been added to the English dictionary like "bling bling" and "cybrarian." I also put down common Spanglish words like parquear and groceria. For each one of those words, I also included the real Spanish equavalents (estacionarse, supermercado, etc). I made 4 or 5 separate but identical copies of each so that the activity could be done simultaneously by groups of 4 or 5 students. They were allowed to group their words into whatever categories seemed most logical. They all grouped the new English words together, but the Spanglish and Spanish words tended to get mixed up a little more. A discussion followed the activity in which we talked about possible reasons that words might be altered or changed as well as some more exaples of Spanglish. The students were pretty intrigued.