Language… ‘Outside of the Box’

Since beginning our individual (and now group) inquiries into language, I’ve always had it on the back of my mind. What is language? What is language?

Yes, I can tell you that language is verbal and non-verbal and I can tell you that at ISPP,  we’re all ELL learners and teachers, but beyond that, what are the languages that we speak? What classifies a language as a language? How many are there? Who rights or wrongs a language? And so on and so forth.

From the moment we’re born, we’re predisposed to factors which will inform the languages we’ll learn for the purpose of communication. That’s a mouthful. But it’s true. We may not think about some of the factors as being influential because of our privileges of being able to communicate how we do, but for many, verbal communication might never be an option for language learning.

Now, let me introduce you to this wonderful human being. Trust me, it’s worth the few minutes to watch:
(Click on the link below to be redirected…the embed and photo hyperlink options aren’t working!:)


“I speak three languages: English, German and spastic, which is my native tongue.” – Andrew Short

Pretty incredible, right? And perhaps not something we think about when we think about language in the traditional sense. Aside from being an inspiration in overcoming something so many thought he wouldn’t be able to do, Andrew has blown our conceptions of ‘language’ out the door as well.

How many other languages are spoken that we perhaps don’t recognize as a ‘real’ language?

Just some food for thought!

2 thoughts on “Language… ‘Outside of the Box’”

  1. What is most refreshing is you’re open-minded toward this idea Melinda. What is language but conveying thoughts and feelings? How stressful it must be for our students to constantly be asked to ‘conform’ to a certain way of speaking.
    Our inquiry group is working specifically around moving from social language to academic language and your post reminds me how we must do this in a way that our children feel at ease and also eager to speak in whatever fashion they can ( barring insults and vulgarity, of course. Of course).
    I wonder what that process will look like for our students? Now, the video: how many people have been left out (and we as their friends and teachers) because their speech was deemed “unacceptable”? “You need to control your disability or it will control you. As Andrew says: “It’s mind over matter if I can put it that way – mind over matter. “ For all of us.

  2. I can always count on you to post a video that will make me cry!
    Thanks for that thoughtful post Melinda. I think this is a great example of growth mindset! It’s a good reminder that nothing is impossible and that every child is capable of learning.

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