Learning the Secret of Language

H’s Story

H’s story considers several big ideas language, travel, and coffee. Adults at least usually have something to say about coffee. The questions focus more on travel, but the premise of the story is language. Or rather languages. How do we overcome language gaps? More than answering that question, H’s story offers the simple reassurance that we can. For our students it is important to know that no matter what their level of English is, they can communicate with people and be welcome.


Language, Cross-cultural, Mutual, Universal, Communicate, Talk together, Understand each other

Lesson Ideas

Confidence building

I know from experience that you can go anywhere in the world and make yourself understood, be treated kindly, and feel welcome. You can also offer that to anyone from the world who comes to your hometown. It is nice to have a common language, but not necessary. I know from experience that many people prevent themselves from communicating with others because I-don’t-speak-English. We need to get past that pessimism and fear. Trust in ourselves and others that we will be good to each other. English is just the icing on the cake.

Activity Sheet

World Map, Nuance

Are you a creative person? I just have rough drafts for most of my activity sheets, maybe you can help me think of better designs for these.

There is one activity sheet here, and an Instagram hashtag investigation video after that.

Where does everything come from? People love looking at maps, so this lesson could easily- and wonderfully- get sidetracked. You can color in the countries or draw lines from where you are back to each sentence’s country. You should wind up with a nice web of inter-connectedness.

If you are studying with people from many countries, it is worth looking at where home is on the map. It can also be fun to look at where your breakfast came from, or even the clothes you are wearing right now:

I eat oats from Chile, milk from Iowa, bananas from the Philippines, and coffee from Guatemala.

My shoes were made in El Salvador, pants in Vietnam. My shirt was made in Japan, and I always wear a bracelet from Nepal.

There’s lots more to do with a map like this, so I’ve included a blank worksheet as well. Have fun!

What is Beautiful in the world?

People speak different languages all around the world and see things differently too. Instagram hashtags can be very revealing that way.

What kinds of things represent “beauty” in different cultures, and which word do you use in your language to express the idea of “beauty”- and maybe not “cute” or “pretty”. How can you describe the differences you discover?