CONLANGS: What in the…

The CONSTRUCTED LANGUAGES (aka CONLANGS) that are used in Game of Thrones’ Dothraki, Avatar’s Na’vi, Star Trek’s Klingon and LOTR’s Elvish are all fictitiously constructed languages used for the purpose of Hollywood. Invented languages can present a bit of a conundrum as they have an extensive vocabulary, grammar rules, and even dialects. The conundrum being…what then constitutes as a real language? The TED talk may help straighten things out a bit.

Teachers can flip this lesson by using: http://ed.ted.com/lessons/are-elvish-klingon-dothraki-and-na-vi-real-languages-john-mcwhorter

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Geography Related iPad Apps for the Student and Teacher

As I continue to expand my iPad classroom, I am discovering a bunch of content specific apps for geography that will be great to use both in and out of the classroom. Here is a list of the ones I have accumulated on my iPad thus far:

  • CNN: A must for news.
  • TED: A must for inspiration
  • Discovery Education: A must for short clips and full length videos that provide a wide range of topics
  • Google Earth: A must for…Duh…
  • ArcGIS: A must for showing image overlays and from the GIS pros. This is great for helping to show the power of GIS.
  • QuakeFeed: An app that shows recent seismic activity all over the world using maps and a Richter Scale.
  • Living Earth: An app that shows the World Time and Weather patterns on a moving 3D Earth.
  • Wolfram Geography: Wolfram has always been great with providing statistics and fast, but this one is tailored just for geography. Topics range from Physical geography, geology and climate, political geography, demographics, economics, and social statistics. I’m not going to lie, it’s pretty awesome.
  • UNHCR Refugee: An app that places the user in a refugee’s shoes and has them make difficult decisions that refugees often face. It is somewhat like a “choose-your-own-adventure” style, but I don’t know if that is quite appropriate given the content. Perhaps “choose-your-own-scenario” sounds better.
  • UN Country Stats: This app is great because like Wolfram, it allows the user to access data on a ton of indicators, provided by the United Nations, and with the ability to select multiple countries to compare the statistics for up to three countries.
  • Fodor’s City Guides: An app that kids can use to explore a particular city around the World from a traveler’s standpoint.
  • ESRI Place History: This app I picked up at the AP conference. You enter the places that you live and frequent on a daily basis. ESRI then plots the toxic hazards near those locations and users can see choropleth maps of heart disease and cancer occurrences in those areas. Kind of scary actually.
  • ESRI BAO: Enter an address in this app and find out social data such as type of neighborhood, population size, median age, avg. household income, % college educated, unemployment rate, household size, % home owners, avg. retail, restaurant, and entertainment spending per month. (Of the United States of course).
  • Earth Viewer: Describes the eras and eons of the World’s history. As you move the slider across time, you can see how the Earth take formation on a 3D globe.
  • UN AIDS: Maps HIV/AIDS information as accumulated from the United Nations. Other data that can correlate to the disease are also listed (life expectancy, HDI).
  • GeoBee Challenge: The official National Geographic Geo-Bee app. (Just for fun)
  • TapQuiz Maps: Another app that tests the user’s ability to identify a location on a map. (Just for fun)
  • Acing AP Human Geography: Looks like a student’s programming class project, and is limited with vocabulary and models. If anyone out there can best it, I recommend giving it a go.
  • Geo Quiz HD: A game that tests your ability to guess locations, capitals, languages, and flags in a multiple choice format.
  • GeoTest: I love this game! It gives you a random location in the World, and using what I assume is Google Earth Streetview, you have to move around and guess on a map where in the World you are.  A great idea for a geo game!

Educator Imprint Lesson Plan: Dialect Surveys of the United States

Topics: Language, isogloss, dialect, accent, regional dialect, thematic maps

Time: 50 minutes

Purpose: To make a visual connection/understanding of isoglosses within the United States and see regional variations in the English language.

Materials: Computer lab or iPads/Android devices, notebook, blank political map of U.S.

Procedure:

1) Discuss/Lecture on isoglosses, dialect, accent (preferably after discussing the language tree).

2)Ask students if they have examples of friends or family who say words differently then what they do.

3) Pick 5-10 words/phrases from the Dialect Survey site and ask them to write down (phonetically) how they would say it, or the word that they would use to describe it.

4) Have the students partner up and verbalize their phonetic words/terms.

5) Debrief pair-share.

6) Have the student look at the Dialect Survey website and investigate three words/terms that they find most interesting. Tell them to write down where the general isogloss can be found on a blank US Map provided.

Dialect Survey of the U.S.

About the Dialect Survey

The dialect survey is an expansion of an initiative begun by Professor Bert Vaux at Harvard University. Dr. Vaux prepared an earlier version of this survey for his Dialects of English class at Harvard in 1999. The survey has since been revised and expanded for a larger, lay audience.

About the Creators

Bert Vaux is an Associate Professor of Linguistics at Harvard University. His specialties are phonological theory, fieldwork, and dialectology. He is currently preparing an Atlas of English Dialects.     [ homepage ]

Scott A. Golder is a graduate student at the MIT Media Laboratory, where he studies social communities online. He graduated from Harvard College in 2003, where he was a Linguistics concentrator.     [ homepage ]

Past support and assistance has been provided by Rebecca Starr and Britt Bolen.

Thank you to the Harvard Computer Society for hosting the Dialect Survey from 2000-2005. HCS is an undergraduate student group promoting the use of computers and technology at Harvard and beyond.

Debate: Whole Foods Faces Boycott Over English-Only Work Policy

Whole Foods faces boycott over English-only work policy – NBC News.com.

Fact: The United States does not declare an official language.

So what’s the big deal anyway?

Do you think the Whole Food’s policy is needed or racist?

Position 1: Pro-Bilingualism

  • Isn’t it a good thing that there are staff members who are able to communicate bilingually?
  • Maybe the bilingual speakers feel more comfortable or even share camaraderie in their heritage.
  • Bilingual speakers have the ability to help customers who may speak another language.
  • Shouldn’t we be encouraged to speak multiple languages?
  • Some Europeans pride themselves in being able to speak four or five different languages.
  • Does this show that Americans are hesitant towards allowing other heritages from expressing themselves in public?
  • Is this an attempt to squash civil liberties, especially if there is no law.
  • Should big business be allowed to create employee rules that prevent languages other than English from being spoken, essentially “trumping” federal laws/or lack there of?

Position 2: English Only!

  • Some people feel that speaking languages other than the standard one is rude because they think others might be speaking poorly about them.
  • Some may argue that speaking Spanish in the US prevents Latinos from assimilating into the mainstream and holds them back intellectually and economically.
  • Should Latinos be forced to learn English? If there is an expectation that migrant workers learn English, should it be an expectation that all native born Americans earn an A in English class?
  • Does speaking a different language make the workplace more hazardous?
  • Is it still OK to speak a different language if the employee can understand both languages?