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Language: A Mini Unit

Language comes in a great variety. Some languages are spoken, some are written, and some are signaled. Language is the foundation of communication. This unit explores language in general and touches on various forms of language that we may not normally think of as actual language.

1. People who share common activities or professions such as sports, computer science, medicine and the law often use specialized languages. People outside these fields may not know some of these terms. Create a small dictionary of specialized words for a particular activity or profession.

2. Using a dictionary, identify five of your favorite words and trace their origins.

3. Become familiar with American Sign Language. Learn a few simple phrases. Are there other ways deaf or hearing impaired people communicate? You may use http://www.masterstech-home.com/ASLDict.html or http://where.com/scott.net/asl/ to help with this activity.

4. Even people who speak the same language may pronounce word differently. This could be due to accents, dialects, colloquialisms, etc. Do you know someone from another part of your country that uses different words from you to describe things? For instance, some people say “pop” for “soda”, some people say “box” or “frig” for “refrigerator. Find out how many differences you can.

5. New technologies can sometimes generate new languages. For instance, “cyberspace” has created lots of new words. How many new words can you think of? (i.e., email, efriend, snail mail, etc.).

6. Ball point pens and mechanical pencils are modern inventions. Research the evolution of writing utensils and create a display of what you learned. Include pictures of different kinds of writing utensils.

7. Become conversationally fluent in a different language. Or, learn at least ten phrases that would help you if you were visiting a country where your language was not spoken as the first language.

8. Thoughts and feelings aren’t just conveyed through spoken or written language. Body language plays a large role in how words are perceived. Research what body language is and put your new skills to use. How important do you think body language is? How important is it in the workplace? Home? Friendships?

9. A speech pathologist works with individuals who have speech impairments, speech articulation problems, or language-processing problems. If possible job shadow someone who works in this field. If you can’t do that, try and interview a person in one of these fields. What kind of schooling did they have to have? What does their job entail? Do they consider their work rewarding, satisfying, strenuous, etc.?

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