Where In The World Is This Word?

Genesis 10-11

Learning Objectives:

  • Students will review the story of the Tower of Babel
  • Students will learn multiple languages started when God confused their languages
  • Students will learn languages often borrow words from other languages and make them part of their language

Guiding Question: What words in English actually started as words in another language?

Materials: world map, index cards/sticky notes, markers, research materials, international snacks (optional)

Procedure: Review the story of the Tower of Babel. Discuss how God created multiple languages when he confused the language of the people at the Tower of Babel. Discuss how languages change over time, often borrowing words from other languages and making them a part of their language. Have students suggest words they think originally came from another language. Include words in the Bible that have been left in the original Hebrew, Greek or Aramaic. Write each suggested word on a sticky note and have students place the words near the country on the map from where they think the words originated.

Have the students use research materials to discover if any of the sticky notes need to be moved to another country. If you wish, allow the students to enjoy international snacks while they are working. Can they guess what in what country these are popular snacks? (Note: If students are very advanced, take the opportunity to introduce the concept of Greek and Latin pre-fixes and suffixes in English words. Memorizing them and their meanings will help students in more advanced classes.)

Additional Question: Which English words do other languages borrow from English and make a part of their language?

Supplemental Activity: Have students research what English words have become a part of other languages and share their findings with the class.

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