IMA 540 Linguistics Class 13

Language Change

Regularity of Sound Change: Consistent change according to phonological rules; for example, the caught-cot merger, which has occurred in regular contexts in areas of North America and Scotland.

see:  the Northern Cities Vowel Shift affects the six short vowels in caught, cot, cat, bit, bet and but.

Sound Correspondences: Great Vowel Shift – In England Middle English changed to Modern English by means of a shift in pronunciation of vowels. Called a chain shift because several sounds move as if in step across the phonetic chart. (see more in section below)

Ancestral Protolanguages

Indo-European is the protolanguage, or ancestor, of the modern European languages, which split into ten groups over time (not the oversimplified two in the text!)

  1. Celtic, with languages spoken in the British Isles, in Spain, and across southern Europe to central Turkey;
  2. Germanic, with languages spoken in England and throughout Scandinavia & central Europe to Crimea;
  3. Italic, with languages spoken in Italy and, later, throughout the Roman Empire including modern-day Portugal, Spain, France, and Romania;
  4. Balto-Slavic, with Baltic languages spoken in Latvia & Lithuania, and Slavic throughout eastern Europe plus Belarus & the Ukraine & Russia;
  5. Balkan (exceptional, as discussed below), with languages spoken mostly in the Balkans and far western Turkey;
  6. Hellenic, spoken in Greece and the Aegean Islands and, later, in other areas conquered by Alexander (but mostly around the Mediterranean);
  7. Anatolian, with languages spoken in Anatolia, a.k.a. Asia Minor, i.e. modern Turkey;
  8. Armenian, spoken in Armenia and nearby areas including eastern Turkey;
  9. Indo-Iranian, with languages spoken from India through Pakistan and Afghanistan to Iran and Kurdish areas of Iraq and Turkey;
  10. Tocharian, spoken in the Tarim Basin of Xinjiang, in far western China.

This chart from the Utexas Linguistics research Center shows the progression over time of these languages developing:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7
PIE minus
Helleno-Armeno-Aryan Hellenic Hellenic
Armeno-Aryan Armenian
Balto-Slavic-Germanic Balto-Slavic Balto-Slavic
Germanic Germanic
Italo-Celtic-Tocharian Italo-Celtic Italic Italic
Celtic Celtic
Tocharian Tocharian
Anatolian Anatolian


Regional dialects became separate languages – as Romance languages developed from Latin. Regular sound changes characterize the differences between the languages.

Phonological Change

Examples of the sound changes in English:

lost sounds: /x/ velar fricative lost from words like light and night; 

new sounds: the allophone (variant sound not signalling meaning change) of /f/, /v/ becoming its own phoneme; the sound ʒ as in leisure: ˈli ʒər;

sounds from other languages’ influence: /ch/ or // sound from Italian as in /tʃɜrtʃ/ church replaced /k/ as in proto-germanic kirika  and /ʃ/ sound from French as in shut /ʃʌt/ – compare to Old English scyttan

changed sounds: doubled (geminate) consonant /f:/ becoming simplified to /f/

Great Vowel Shift is credited to Otto Jesperson, who coined the term, “The great vowel-shift consists in a general raising of all long vowels” (A Modern English Grammar, 1909).

Great Vowel Shift

Morphological Change

The eight historical Indo-European cases are as follows, with examples either of the English case or of the English syntactic alternative to case:

  • The nominative case indicates the subject of a finite verb: We went to the store.
  • The accusative case indicates the direct object of a verb: The clerk remembered us.
  • The dative case indicates the indirect object of a verb: The clerk gave us a discount.
  • The ablative case indicates movement from something, or cause: The victim went from us to see the doctor. and He was unhappy because of depression.
  • The genitive case, which roughly corresponds to English’s possessive case and preposition of, indicates the possessor of another noun: John’s book was on the table. and The pages of the book turned yellow.
  • The vocative case indicates an addressee: John, are you all right? or simply Hello, John!
  • The locative case indicates a location: We live in China.
  • The instrumental case indicates an object used in performing an action: We wiped the floor with a mop. and Written by hand.

Syntactic Change

Word order in English has changed; Old English allowed for Subject -Object-Verb construction because case marking clarified relationships.

English negation: used particle ne in OE; allowed double negation; this survives in some dialects (as in “I haven’t never owed nothing to no one“)

Location of negation in contraction has changed

Formation of comparatives & superlatives: more gladder was grammatical in 1470

Jakob Grimm:

Noticed regular sound correspondences between Sanskrit, Greek, Latin, and Germanic languages. Posited what came to be known as Grimm’s Law: Voiced aspirates become unaspirated, voiced stops become voiceless, voiceless stops become fricatives. (IPA CHART )

Yoda’s syntax (p. 527) is OSV (object –subject-verb)

Lexical Change

  • Change in category – Nouns becoming verbs (impact; hoover, Mirandize – can you think of more?);
  • Addition of new words
    • coinage – Kodak, Xerox, Google, sudoku
    • from names (eponymous) – Eponym board
    • Blends – podcast, chortle
    • Reduced words
      • clipping – prof.
      • acronyms – NASA
    • Borrowings / loan words
  • Loss of Words – pease; groovy?
  • Semantic Change
    • Broadening – holiday
    • Narrowing – meat
    • Meaning Shifts knight, lust
  • Reconstructing Dead Languages
    • 19th Century
      • Comparatists
      • Cognates
    • Comparative Reconstruction
    • Historical Evidence – written works and letters – best if written by poor spellers!
  • Extinct &  Endangered Languages

–  Modern examples of resurrection: Hawaiian, Hebrew

  • Genetic Classification of Languages
    • Languages of the world
  • Types of Languages
  • Why Do Languages Change?

IMA Linguistics 540 Class 12

Psycholinguistics area of linguistics concerned with linguistic performance in speech or sign production & comprehension

    Nature of linguistic knowledge:

  • not a set of fixed phrases stored in memory
  • speech chain (brain-to-brain linking)
  • mechanisms allow us to break stream of sounds into linguistic units

Comprehension: How do we “unpack”language that is complex?

Breakdowns reveal how the language processor works.

Speech Signal

acoustic terms: describe sounds’ physical aspects
fundamental frequency
spectrograms (voice-prints)

Try to read the above spectrogram.
See more on reading spectrograms here
Once you learn how to read them you can try the Mystery Spectrogram!Formants of vowels: characteristic patterns of vowels on spectrogram; these are the phonemes of American English

Speech Perception and Comprehension

Segmentation: how to listener perceives sounds as distinct units; the “segmentation problem”
Recognition of speech sounds produced by different speakers in various environments  the “invariance problem”

    Perceptual units:

  • phonemes
  • syllables
  • morphemes
  • words
  • phrases

Factors that affect perception/comprehension:

  • native language (perceptual bias)
  • context (situation or topic)
  • content of one’s mental lexicon (lexical access)
  • ability to analyze syntactically (parse)
  • knowledge of lexical semantics 
  • prosodic aspects of speech (intonation)

Note: webmining can be a way for computers to develop lexical semantics

Comprehension Models and Experimental Studies

Top-down vs. bottom-up processing
Top-down: start with semantic and syntactic information and end with sensory input
Bottom-up: move from acoustical signal to semantic interpretation

Lexical access and Word recognition
Lexical decision experiments: response time is measured to find out how quickly words are recognized
Priming techniques: semantically related words can increase the rate of comprehension of other words
Naming task: shows subjects read words faster than non-words

 William Labov:

The Social Stratification of English in New York City

Chapter III The Social Stratification of /r/ in New York City Department stores

Motivation of study: to test 2 ideas:

  1. the variable /r/ is a social differentiator in all levels of NYC speech
  2. casual and anonymous speech events can be used as basis for a systematic study of language

Careful conversation was used for previous dialect studies but Labov felt more accurate data would come from casual conversation.

Comments on Labov’s method for the department store study?

Chapter IV The Isolation of Contextual Styles

Contexts in which casual language is found:

Extra-interview communication (interruptions and asides)

Personal Narratives

The Language of Life and Death

Analysis of Narrative Structure

Complicating Action

Later version:

  • Abstract (A) – the indication that a narrative is about to start and the speaker wants a listener’s attention.
  • Orientation (O) – the ‘who’, ‘where’, ‘what’ and ‘why of the narrative. This sets the scene and provides further contextual information for the listener.
  • Complicating Action (CA) – the main body providing a range of narrative detail.
  • Resolution (R) – the final events, the ‘rounding off’ to give the narrative closure.
  • Evaluation (E) – additions to the basic story, to highlight attitudes or to command the listener’s attention at important moments.
  • Coda: (C) – a sign that the narrative is complete. This might include a return to the initial time frame before the narrative


Atlas of North American English 


IMA 540 Linguistics Class 11

textingDeborah Tannen: The Medium is the Metamessage


Bateson – coined term Metacommunication: “the subject of discourse is the relationship between the speakers”

The metamessage, according to Tannen, is implicit, and indicates how the  ‘speaker’ intends the message.

Same statements about the politeness of different conversational styles apply to text messages as to oral communication – age difference regarding the acceptance of texting in company of someone with whom one is communicating face-to-face.

Brevity of interruptions are part of the judgement of rudeness in high-involvement style and young-texters style.

Markers of Enthusiasm and Intensity

Gender difference in use of doubled punctuation marks and duplicated vowels. The ‘unmarked’ use is to show enthusiasm this way.

Brevity is cold – or is it just a masculine style?

Brevity may be indirect; can be the motivation for texting rather than telephoning. Thus, the medium is a metamessage – telephoning can either be rude as an interruption or showing enthusiasm as in the need to communicate more fluidly.

Ambiguity of sending just a link.

Buzzfeed article on the “True Meaning” of emojis

Pacing & Pausing

Length  of time between message and response is a metamessage.

A dead battery can imply unintended meaning!

Texting_cf0f4f_2756352Multiple Media – communicating the same message more than once

textingMedium Choice – Facebook is more public – being broken up or ‘Facebook official’ is for a different audience than text or other medium messages.

If you’re using FB do you send a private message or post on the person’s wall?

Liabilities of the technology – signature as unintended message

Moral Panic at Introduction of New Media

Writing; the printing press, texting… new media discourse isn’t that unique when compared to previous means of communication.

What are your observations on the use of texting and social media in the communication patterns of your peers?

IMA Linguistics 540 Class 10

George Lakoff & Mark Johnson –
Metaphors We Live By

How basic is metaphor to our conceptual system?  Do our metaphors define our reality?


ARGUMENT IS WAR (But it could be dance!)
Is this why pacifists don’t like to argue?

TIME IS MONEY (i.e., a valuable commodity)

Michael Reddy – the Conduit Metaphor:


“The speaker puts ideas (objects) into words (containers) and sends them (along a conduit) to a bearer who takes the idea/objects out of the word/containers.” (p. 10)
What does the conduit metaphor mask?
What doesn’t this metaphor fit?


Work done by William Nagy (1974) (Ph.D. Dissertation)

Experiential Bases of Metaphors

  • What does it mean for a metaphor to have an experiential basis?
    •  Metaphors are not arbitrary

What is the physical basis of these metaphors?






Internal Systematicity

Metaphor is consistent, not random

Another Kind of Coherence: Cultural

Values are evident in metaphors
Interesting reference (p. 24) to cultures where up-down is not a priority; where passive is better than active. (Buddhism?)

Ontological Metaphors




  • Referring
  • Quantifying
  • Identifying aspects
  • Identifying causes
  • Setting goals and motivating actions


Container Metaphors

Land areas: human-imposed boundaries; political maps

The visual field: what we see is a territory

Events, Actions, Activities and States
A racewashing


Non-human entities given human motivations & characteristics
“Technology is stealing my job”


IMA 540 Linguistics Class 9

Student Exercises

Exercise 14 (p.228) on The Jabberwocky

Semantics: the study of the linguistic meaning of morphemes, words, phrases, and sentences

  • lexical semantics: concerned with the meanings of words
  • phrasal or sentential semantics: concerned with larger syntactic units
  • There are more types which the text doesn’t cover

Pragmatics: The interpretation of linguistic meaning in context. (according to the text; my own definition is that it is the study of how we do things with language. The Wiki definitions are:

  • The study of language as it is used in a social context, including its effect on the interlocutors.
  • The branch of semiotics that deals with the relationship between signs, especially words and other elements of language, and their users.

Semantic Properties: pieces of information associated with a word

  • semantic properties are part of the meaning of all nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, and some function words
  • represented through a notation with positive or negative semantic features (mare = +female, -human, -young, +equine)
  • language teaching example: count/noncount nouns (177) can only occur with a particular quantifier: count nouns with many, noncount (mass) nouns with much.
  • nouns in some languages are associated with specific classifiers-nyms
    (a bound morpheme, by the way!)
  • Homonyms: words that are pronounced the same, may or may not be spelled the same and have different meanings. May lead to ambiguity
  • A word with multiple meanings that are related historically is polysemous
  • heteronyms: words are spelled the same but pronounced differently
  • homographs: words that are spelled the same but have different meanings (dove- the bird & dove – past of dive)
  • synonyms;  words that have the same or nearly the same meaning
    • paraphrases: sentences which use synonyms in identical constructions
    • creates lexical paraphrase
      • antonyms: words that are opposite
        • share all but one semantic property
        • are gradable:  meaning is related to the object they modify
        • marked/unmarked members of pairs of gradable antonyms: mountain & high, not low
        • relational opposites: employer/employee
        • formed with prefixes
        • hyponyms: a word that represents the relationship between general terms and specific instances of a class; color has the hyponym red
        • metonym: substitutes for the object that is meant, the name of an attribute or concept associated with that object; i.e., Hollywood for the film industry, Washington for the US government
        • retronyns:  redundant words at an earlier time; whole milk, conventional warfare, acoustic guitar.

        (see fun-with -words)

        See Student exercises for more fun

        Proper names
        Shortcuts for a specific object or entity

        • have characteristic of being definite (this means in English they don’t need a determiner such as the to indicate definite – exceot in particular instances (there are always these pesky exceptions!)
        • can’t be pluralized (Or can they? “There are two ‘Johns’ in our class”)

        Phrase and Sentence Meaning

    Principle of Compositionality: meaning of a phrase is composed of meaning of words and how they are combined structurally

    Visiting relatives can be boring

    Phrasal Meaning

    Noun-Centered Meaning

        • reference: an object is pointed to through a noun phrase
        • referent: the object pointed to through a noun phrase
        • coreferential: phrases that point to the same object – may not mean the sentences have the same meaning
        • sense: additional meaning

    Verb-Centered Meaning

        • agent, theme, and goal: thematic roles of the verb
        • Useful chart ( 192-193)
        • represented by case in some languages

    Sentential Meaning

        • truth conditions: the conditions under which the sentence is true
        • paraphrases: sentences which have the same truth conditions
        • entailment: truth of one sentence entails (implies) the truth of another
        • contradiction: negative entailment
        • eventives/statives:  syntactic consequences result from this characteristic of sentences

    Pronouns and Coreferentiality

        • reflexive pronouns: syntax reflects identical referents in antecedents

    Meanings that are Veiled or Nonexistent

        • anomaly: syntactically correct expressions which are not interpretable semantically
        • metaphor:  nonliteral or indirect meaning (note George Lakoff’s book, and article on Metaphors of Terror
        • idioms: meaning is not related to meanings of parts of the phrase (a language teacher’s dream (if what you want is job security) or nightmare (if you are asked to explain them a lot))


    Interpretation of linguistic meaning in context.

        • linguistic context
        • situational context, or knowledge of the world

    Discourse Analysis

        • how speakers combine sentences into broader speech units
        • examines style, appropriateness, cohesiveness, etc.

    Situational Context

        • Grice’s cooperative principle
        • Conversational maxims

    Speech Acts

      • What we get done with language
      • Performatives
      • illocutionary force
      • presuppositions
      • implication
      • Deixis

CARLA’s speech act site:


The site where you can download software for drawing syntactic trees is:

IMA 540 Linguistics Class 8

Deborah Tannen: Conversational Style

Chapter 2: Theoretical Background

Analysis of conversation is a subdomain of discourse analysis (which also includes written text).
CA is related to Semantics – basic question is ‘how do people communicate and interpret meaning in conversation?’

Style: Hymes described as register; Ervin-Tripp as  alternation. Tannen  refers to choices of particular linguistic devices made by speakers.

Individual & Social Differences

Sapir said: “It is always the variation that matters, never the objective behavior.” (1958:542)… and style is an “every day facet of speech that characterizes both the social group and the individual.”

Distinction between ‘unmarked’  (normal behavior for a community) and ‘marked’ (different from the norm) is important when distinguishing between individual style and a community’s style.

Acquisition of Style

Children learn by age four what conversation style is used by members of their speech community.

Stylistic Strategies: Involvement – Considerateness

Lakoff’s Principles:

  1. Don’t impose (distance)
  2. Give options (deference)
  3. Be friendly (camaraderie)

Tannen gives examples of how these principles are expressed in conversation. There is a tension between expressing politeness through distance and camaraderie. Lakoff sees them as points on a continuum.

distance                               deference                      camaraderie

The middle ground is deference; which is giving the other choices about how to interpret one’s message.

Another graphic representation:

Particularly relevant to the upcoming chapter is the discussion of features of the High-Involvement Style

  1. Topic
    a. Prefer personal topics
    b. Shift topics abruptly
    c. Introduce topics w/o hesitation
    d. Persist (keep introducing a topic)
  2. Pacing
    a. Faster rate of speech
    b. Faster turn taking
    c. Avoid pauses between turns
    d. Cooperative overlap
    e. Participatory listenership
  3. Narrative Strategies
    a. Tell more stories
    b. Tell stories in rounds (each person gives their own story)
    c. Prefer internal evaluation (the point of a story is expected to be interpreted by the listener)
  4. Expressive paralinguistics
    a. Expressive phonology
    b. Marked pitch and amplitude shifts
    c. Marked voice quality
    d. Strategic pauses within turns


Tannen used a tape recorder (which ran out of tape!) then later, met with each participant and had them control the recorder to pause and comment. She acknowledges that the transcription of the conversation does not capture the intonation of the talk nor the nonverbal gestures employed.

Chapter 3: The Participants in Thanksgiving Dinner

Host: Steve, 33-yr-old musician and music teacher
Peter, 35-yr-old management analyst at university
Sally, 29-yr-old musician
Deborah, 29-yr-old graduate student
David, 29-yr-old artist, sign language interpreter
Chad, 30-yr-old writer at film studio
Late arrival: Victor, 37-yr-old engineer, deaf

Origins: Steve, Peter, and Deborah grew up in NYC – Jewish heritage
Chad & David in Southern California  – Chad has Jewish heritage
Sally in London, England – Father from Poland – Jewish heritage

Sexual orientation: Steve, David & Chad are gay
Deborah, Peter, and Sally are heterosexual

Chapter 4: Linguistic  Devices in Conversational Style

  • Personal / Impersonal Topics
  • The ‘Enthusiam Constraint’
  • The Machine-Gun question
  • Overlap and pace
  • Mutual Revelation  (see also my dissertation in reference to self-disclosure)
  • Bonding through high-involvement devices
  • Expressive Phonology and Intonation (pitch)
  • Persistence
  • Tolerance for Noise vs. Silence

Questions for Tyler:

How would you define your own conversational style?

What has your experience been in interacting with people who have a different conversational style?

Communication and Collaboration


Task 3 of Learning and Innovation Skills: Communication and Collaboration

Communicate Clearly

  • Articulate thoughts and ideas effectively using oral, written and nonverbal communication skills in a variety of forms and contexts
  • Listen effectively to decipher meaning, including knowledge, values, attitudes and intentions
  • Use communication for a range of purposes (e.g. to inform, instruct, motivate and persuade)
  • Utilize multiple media and technologies, and know how to judge their effectiveness a priori as well as assess their impact
  • Communicate effectively in diverse environments (including multi-lingual)

Collaborate with Others

  • Demonstrate ability to work effectively and respectfully with diverse teams
  • Exercise flexibility and willingness to be helpful in making necessary compromises to accomplish a common goal
  • Assume shared responsibility for collaborative work, and value the individual contributions made by each team member

What are some collaborative  activities that help develop communication skills?

Podcasts | Wikis | VoiceThread | Blogs


What’s a podcast? A podcast is an audio or video file that you can download to your computer or music player (such as an iPod). You can listen to a podcast on a music/MP3 player or a computer. The difference between this kind of file and any other download is you don’t have to go out looking for new content – it is delivered to you automatically when you subscribe, so it’s more like your daily newspaper as compared to the book you borrowed from your local library. Podcasts are generally short and contain additional written material, which can be accessed on computer OR smartphones.

World language teachers have 3 options in using podcasting:

  1. Using podcasts that others have created (ESL Podcast) (Apple’s index of educational podcasts) to provide authentic, motivating materials for your students.
  2. Creating podcasts that are closely tied to the content of your course and sending them out into the ether for use by your students in class or in a mobile immersion environment.
  3. Having your students collaboratively create podcasts as a way to increase their listening and speaking opportunities, give them an authentic audience and motivate them toward greater engagement with the language. See how GWU’s  professor Heather Schell has her writing center students create “Gorilla Radio” news podcasts.

There’s even an  ESL Teacher Podcast for getting some new teaching ideas.


A wiki allows a group of people to enter and communally edit both images and text. Here’s a quick introduction to how wikis work.  One teacher had her students at NOVA create a Wiki to collect tourist information for Washington DC and give feedback to a similar class in a community college in Dallas on the site they built with information on the Dallas-Ft. Worth area.

This wiki provides resources for college-level ESL students.


Article on how Weblogs can be used in ESL Classes. Posting written work in a blog encourages the student’s development of the concept of audience, and gives students more reading practice, allowing them to comment on and respond to each other’s work.

Voice Thread

Voice Thread is a way to save audio files and documents online, sharing them with others. The audio files can be responded to on the same page as the original. Here’s an example from a Georgetown University class.

More Resources

Facebook has Language Exchange – Connect with people who want to exchange lessons in your second language and your first one.

Purdue University has an excellent resource for academic writing: The  Online Writing Lab provides guidance on various style formats for all students, outlining, and a special section for ESL Students.

The Voice of America Learning English website has current news in simplified English with accompanying audio of the story read at a slow pace. Users can read and listen to develop listening comprehension.

Critical Thinking and Problem Solving

Task 2 of Learning and Innovation Skills: Critical Thinking and Problem Solving

Reason Effectively

  • Use various types of reasoning (inductive, deductive, etc.) as appropriate to the situation

Use Systems Thinking

  • Analyze how parts of a whole interact with each other to produce overall outcomes in complex systems 

Make Judgments and Decisions

  • Effectively analyze and evaluate evidence, arguments, claims and beliefs
  •  Analyze and evaluate major alternative points of view
  • Synthesize and make connections between information and arguments
  • Interpret information and draw conclusions based on the best analysis
  • Reflect critically on learning experiences and processes

Solve Problems

  • Solve different kinds of non-familiar problems in both conventional and innovative ways
  • Identify and ask significant questions that clarify various points of view and lead to better solutions 

What activities contribute to the development of critical thinking skills?

Debates | Media Analysis | Problem – Solution Tasks


Debates demand that students examine all sides of an issue. Choose a debate topic that is relevant to your students’ interests, or better yet, let them nominate topics to be voted on by the class. Preparation can take place in face-to-face or computer-mediated communication. Debates can be made more real by having a class at another school take the opposing side and debate through teleconferencing software (Skype or Google Hangouts  are free and can be recorded for later evaluation) A service is provided by Skype in the Classroom to connect teachers for this kind of activity.

Media Analysis

Students can pick any age-appropriate news story and ask critical questions about it: Why was it written? Who is this story for? Why did the writer choose to interview the people in the story?  How does this story make you feel? Is there any bias involved in the reporting?Among the resources for news are News For You Online (easy to read stories for new ESL readers), Press Reader (international newspapers, read aloud), and Voice of America Learning English.

As a follow-up, students can create their own newspaper, using one of a number of online newspaper templates, such as MakeMyNewspaper.

Problem-Solution Tasks

What are the problems or challenges your students face?

You can ask them to solve the huge world problems like pollution but it might be better to give them the chance to think critically and innovatively about a problems closer to home.  A school community is an excellent place to apply systems thinking.

Part of the process of choosing what to tackle will be decision-making skills that involve prioritizing, analyzing arguments, and using judgement.  Using an electronic poll such as the ones you can generate through Google Forms may be incorporated into the choice of what problem to tackle.

Another method of making group selections is through Student Response Systems. See a review: Seven Good Response Systems that Work with All Devices.


Creativity and Innovation

Task 1 of Learning and Innovation Skills: Creativity and Innovation

Questions in red are for participants to discuss.

Think Creatively

  • Use a wide range of idea creation techniques (such as brainstorming)
  • Create new and worthwhile ideas (both incremental and radical concepts)
  • Elaborate, refine, analyze and evaluate their own ideas in order to improve and maximize creative efforts

Work Creatively with Others

  • Develop, implement and communicate new ideas to others effectively
  • Be open and responsive to new and diverse perspectives; incorporate group input and feedback into the work
  • Demonstrate originality and inventiveness in work and understand the real world limits to adopting new ideas
  • View failure as an opportunity to learn; understand that creativity and innovation is a long-term, cyclical process of small successes and frequent mistakes

Implement Innovations

What methods do you use to encourage student creativity and innovation?

Creative Projects| STEM Problem-Solving Challenges | Webquests

Much project-based learning can stimulate creativity and innovation; integration of the arts in the language curriculum can encourage creativity.  How does technology support the expression of creativity and innovation in your teaching? One example is students collaborating on the creation of a video to describe their school’s community.  

STEM (Science, Technology & Math Problem Solving Challenges Destination Imagination is one such model. Teachers can easily create their own challenge or use past challenges posted on sites such as this list of challenges based on children’s literature.

One integrative application of technology in the classroom is the use of WebQuests to encourage inquiry-oriented critical thinking, collaborative learning, and student motivation. A WebQuest is an inquiry-oriented lesson format in which most or all the information that learners work with comes from the web. (Dodge)

“WebQuests of either short or long duration are deliberately designed to make the best use of a learner’s time. . . . WebQuests should contain at least the following parts:

  1. An introduction that sets the stage and provides some background information.
  2. task that is doable and interesting.
  3. A set of information sources needed to complete the task. Many (though not necessarily all) of the resources are embedded in the WebQuest document itself as anchors pointing to information on the World Wide Web. Information sources might include web documents, experts available via e-mail or realtime conferencing, searchable databases on the net, and books and other documents physically available in the learner’s setting. Because pointers to resources are included, the learner is not left to wander through webspace completely adrift.
  4. A description of the process the learners should go through in accomplishing the task. The process should be broken out into clearly described steps.
  5. Some guidance on how to organize the information acquired. This can take the form of guiding questions, or directions to complete organizational frameworks such as timelines, concept maps, or cause-and-effect diagrams as described by Marzano (1988, 1992) and Clarke (1990).
  6. conclusion that brings closure to the quest, reminds the learners about what they’ve learned, and perhaps encourages them to extend the experience into other domains.” (Dodge, “Some thoughts about WebQuests”)


“A real WebQuest….

  • is wrapped around a doable and interesting task that is ideally a scaled down version of things that adults do as citizens or workers.
  • requires higher level thinking, not simply summarizing. This includes synthesis, analysis, problem-solving, creativity and judgment.
  • makes good use of the web. A WebQuest that isn’t based on real resources from the web is probably just a traditional lesson in disguise. (Of course, books and other media can be used within a WebQuest, but if the web isn’t at the heart of the lesson, it’s not a WebQuest.)
  • isn’t a research report or a step-by-step science or math procedure. Having learners simply distilling web sites and making a presentation about them isn’t enough.
  • isn’t just a series of web-based experiences. Having learners go look at this page, then go play this game, then go here and turn your name into hieroglyphs doesn’t require higher level thinking skills and so, by definition, isn’t a WebQuest. “(

See “Why WebQuests?” and a complete guide to using this technique:

Annotated examples of WebQuests 

Bernie Dodge, the creator of WebQuests, made this “Webquest about Webquests” for a teacher workshop. In it, teachers evaluate web quests. The following videos are from Dodge’s WebQuests site.

How to design a WebQuest

Questgarden – a free web editor for WebQuests

Search on Questgarden by topic


Keeping up with the Digital Revolution in the Language Classroom

21st Century teachers of English as a Second Language are faced with the dual challenges of helping their students master academic skills in a new language and utilize the tools provided by modern technology to further their learning and facilitate their achievement. Language and the thinking skills referred to as 21st Century Skills (as proposed by the Partnership for 21st Century Skills) are necessary for success in the 21st Century workplace. This workshop is aimed at showing how the development of these skills can be supported through the use of technology in the second language classroom.

Specifically, this workshop explores the “Learning and Innovation Skills” component of 21st Century Skills, which is divided into these areas:

  • Creativity and Innovation
  • Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
  • Communication and Collaboration

We’ll focus on three sample tasks, using freely available (open-source) applications. Only basic computer literacy on the part of the teacher is required for these activities.

Task 1 (Creativity and Innovation): Develop or adapt a Webquest challenge relevant to the content area of the class.

Task 2 (Critical Thinking, Problem-Solving, Communication): Introduce digital storytelling by using presentation software with additional multimedia content: narration, audio, or video.

Task 3 (Communication & Collaboration): Start a shared blog, Pinterest Board, or Twitter feed for your class.