“A ‘woefully confused polyglot’ discovers which non-English words have become common enough to count toward her Spelling Bee score.” L. Thuy Vo, The New York Times, March 7, 2022
ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key
Excerpt:How My Multilingual Upbringing Helps Me Solve Spelling Bee, By Lam Thuy Vo, The New York Times, March 7, 2022
“As a child born to Vietnamese immigrants in Germany, I was sometimes asked to translate documents into German, some of which were much more important than I had realized. Growing up in this kind of household also meant being somewhat linguistically agile. From an early age, I made acrobatic leaps between grammatically and tonally disparate languages without thinking much about it…Experiencing the world in multiple languages has made me experiment with how I approach finding words in puzzles that were constructed by people who do not know the languages I do. (However, I’d love to one day solve a Spelling Bee written by a native speaker of Vietnamese, German and English who also dabbles in French.)
Because I learned French in middle school, not too long after I started learning English, the word croissant is distinctly French to me. Even if you ask me about this fluffy, buttery pastry in English, I will be that endlessly pretentious person who uses the Vietnamese French pronunciation, ‘cruh-ah-suuh-nt.’ In my mind, that’s where the word belongs.
But many words, like croissant, have crossed the globe and exist independent of their origins. A Starbucks customer in America might order a ‘cruh-sant,’ familiar with it because of her American upbringing… I think of these words as the manifestation of different cultures in the place I now call home, the United States.”
First Guest Podcast for ESL-Voices!
We are happy to introduce this great ESL learning Podcast: “English as a Simple Language” from Don La Bonte:
“Here is a free 40 hour self-directed, progressive video lesson plan focusing on the basic English conversation patterns for beginners helping them to express their emotions. Patterns introduced to students are subsequently reinforced by multiple reviews encouraging them to speak rather than just passively listen or read. They learn to speak by speaking. All videos are also available in a free podcast format for easy access anywhere.” Don La Bonte www.labonteesl.com
Also visit: LA BONTE’S Top 100 English Conversation Patterns
“Language is the art of communication of your feelings and feelings are conveyed through very common conversation patterns.” Don La Bonte https://www.labonteesl.com/patterns
NOTE: Mr. La Bonte has graciously allowed ESL-Voices to add his Podcast to our Resources section. You can find his work here:
~ Thanks Don, we appreciate your hard work and willingness to share~ ESLV
ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post
Knowing Multiple Languages Can Make You a Spelling Champ!
NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.
Level: Intermediate – Advanced
Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.
Time: Approximately 60 minutes.
Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.
Objective: Students will read and discuss the article with a focus on improving reading comprehension and improving oral skills. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.
I. Pre-Reading Activities
Predictions: Analyzing headings and photos
Directions: Examine the titles of the post and of the actual article. Examine any photos, then create a list of words and ideas that you and your group members think might be related to this article.
II. While Reading Activities
Directions: Try to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. You use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.
- The author is very proud of her Spelling Bee score.
- In the U.S. many children are multilingual.
- The author describes herself as a woefully confused polyglot.
- The author was born to Vietnamese immigrants in Germany.
- Growing up in this kind of household also meant being somewhat linguistically agile.
- I made acrobatic leaps between grammatically and tonally disparate languages without thinking much about it.
- That’s roughly 60 million people who seesaw between at least two languages.
- Experiencing the world in multiple languages has made me experiment with how I approach finding words in puzzles.
- I’d love to one day solve a puzzle written by a native speaker of Vietnamese and English who also dabbles in French.
- Crossword puzzles may describe a term in a clue and ask for the answer to be in a foreign language.
Grammar Focus: Word -Recognition
Directions: Students choose the correct word to complete the sentences taken from the article. They are to choose from the options presented.
Finding word/words in the/an honey comblike grid has/have also re-emphasized to/two me that English, likes/like most languages in/on this globalized age, is already something/somewhat multilingual in nature. Sometime/Sometimes we just forgot/forget that many in/of the words/word we use came to/too us from elsewhere.
Directions: Place students in groups and after they have read the entire article, have them complete the following sentencestaken from the article. They can use the words and terms from the list provided, or provide their own terms. They are to find the meanings of any new vocabulary.
But many___, like___,have crossed the ___and exist ___of their origins. A ___customer in ___might order a “cruh-sant,” familiar with it because of___American upbringing.
With this in___, it’s been a___ to discover what ___terms are now part of everyday ___life.
WORD LIST: American foreign, joy, mind, her, Starbucks independent, globe, words, croissant, America,
III. Post Reading Activities
Directions: Have students use the WH-question format to discuss or to write the main points from the article.
Who or What is the article about?
Where does the action/event take place?
When does the action/event take place?
Why did the action/event occur?
How did the action/event occur?
Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing
Directions: Have students discuss the following questions/statements. Afterwards, students share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the topics mentioned.
- Do you speak a language other than English? If yes, how has it helped you? If no, has it hindered you in any way?
- What are the advantages of knowing more than one language? Are there any disadvantages?
- In the United States, how many people speak a language besides English?
- What type of Spelling Bee does the author hope to solve one day?
- Throughout the article, which languages does the author use as examples of words English speakers may or may not know?
- If you only speak English after reading this article would you like to learn another language? Why or why not?
- List three new ideas that you’ve learned about the topic from the reading, two things that you did not understand in the reading, and one thing you would like to know that the article did not mention. Share your responses with your class.