7,000 ways of seeing the world

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Grammar - ellipsis

how to use ellipsis

LESSON OVERVIEW

In this lesson about languages, students watch a video and discuss whether languages change the way we see the world. They also learn how to use ellipsis.

C1 / Advanced60 minStandard LessonPremium Plan

VIDEO & SPEAKING

In the warm-up activity, students read two quotes about language and discuss to what extent they agree with them. Before watching the video, they guess what the answer to the question in the title might be (Do we think differently in different languages?). They also brainstorm possible arguments in support of the answer. Then, they watch the video and check their ideas. 

Before the second viewing, students look at two terms used in the video and discuss whether they show how users of different languages think differently. Students watch part of the video for the second time and check their answers. Then, they look at what people in the video said about speaking different languages. They need to discuss whether they have had similar experiences. Finally, students answer several questions about language and perceiving the world. 

TEACHING HOW TO USE ELLIPSIS

In this part of the lesson, students look at some statements from the video and decide what word or words have been left out. Then, they look at the statements again and complete the rules on how to use ellipsis. This task is followed by a controlled practice activity.  Students need to decide which words they can leave out from a set of statements. After that, students think about the languages they speak or know something about and discuss some questions about them while completing a table. The teacher can choose to divide students into pairs or small groups of people who have a similar linguistic background. Finally, students look at the information in the table and come up with five statements to sum up what they discussed. They need to demonstrate how to use ellipsis in the statements (e.g. English is difficult to learn for Spanish speakers but Portuguese isn’t.).

WORKSHEETS

 

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  1. Danielle Reich

    Surprising to find the widely debunked Sapir-Whorf hypothesis here…

    1. Ewa

      Hi Danielle! The hypothesis hasn’t been proven or disproven. I do think, however, that this is a fascinating topic of conversation for speakers of more than one langage.

      1. Danielle Reich

        Thanks for replying, Ewa!

        I can confirm you that, within linguist circles, the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis is now considered risible. Modern day linguistics has widely discredited the theory.

        I agree that it’s an interesting topic to discuss for fun just like astrology, with little scientific basis.

        You can listen to a Linguistics professor discuss it here:
        https://slate.com/human-interest/2019/06/john-mcwhorter-whorfian-hypothesis.html

        The Language Instinct by Steven Pinker is a great read on the subject.

        1. Ewa

          OK. Thanks for sharing.

    2. Eruditus Language Center

      You cited one source and claimed it is widely debunked… How does that add up?

      1. Danielle Reich

        I figured it would be easier to share an accessible podcast episode where a Linguistics professor from Columbia University thoroughly explains the issue.

        Basically this is a theory that is universally considered wrong inside the academic discipline where it originated but still survives very well outside of it. The video and title provided for this lesson (7,000 ways of seeing the world) illustrates the strong form of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis known as linguistic determinism, which argues that individuals experience the world based on the structure of the language they habitually use. This is largely considered to be false in modern day linguistics. It goes against the idea that there are certain universal ways of thinking and understanding the world, regardless of the language we speak.

        The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis is controversial because many studies that previously supported it have since been disproven and despite this, some people still find the idea too appealing and want to believe it to be true. It’s common for studies that support the hypothesis to receive more attention than those that disprove it, just like with other misconceptions such as the “you only use 10% of your brain” myth. If you’re interested in learning more about this topic, you might want to check out the work of Anna Papafragou.

        It’s actually fascinating to see how much this idea that language shapes thought has permeated popular culture. There are obviously racist implications associated with this theory, even if one is not aware of its background. The idea that language shapes how we think can lead to the belief that certain languages are inferior and should be replaced with others that are deemed more “advanced.” Whorf himself even suggested that the reason modern science progressed more in Europe than in North America’s Indian tribes was because of the grammatical structures of Indo-European languages compared to those of the Amerindian languages. Source: https://www.jstor.org/stable/30059442

        If you’re interested in learning more, I actually have the slides from when I taught this topic as part of an introductory linguistics course that describe some of the studies with references: https://imgur.com/a/vKRbAj5

        More info:
        https://www.mitchmedical.us/thinking-reasoning/lila-gleitman-anna-papafragou.html
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KEmpRtj34xg&t=28s (Chomsky on language and thought)
        https://psmag.com/social-justice/dozen-words-misunderstood-language-linguistics-79600
        https://www.thoughtco.com/sapir-whorf-hypothesis-1691924

        I hope this has been helpful.

        1. Eruditus Language Center

          This is more elaborate. Thanks for sharing.

        2. Stan

          Thank you very much for this detailed explanation and the linked slides. Honestly, I wasn’t aware of that Sapir-Whorf hypothesis or most of these studies and how they were debunked. It definitely casts a different light on the video. I guess we can look at this lesson as a way to debunk such a myth and gauge how bilinguals, or people who speak more than one language, feel when using different languages (that’s the other focus of the video and discussion in the lesson).

  2. Caroline Koshimura

    Very interesting topic and activity! 🙂

    1. Ewa

      Thank you, Caroline 🙂

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