Create a Language

Understanding Expression


In this one-hour activity, students gain an understanding of the nature of human communication and foster a scientific view on languages. Through class activities, games, reading, and analysis, students will learn that speaking a language is only one way people communicate information. In order to make a language understandable among groups of people, a system of rules is necessary. Languages and words are not the same thing. Not all languages have a written form. Words have enormous influence on languages. Finally, a natural language is not static. It is developing all the time over time, space, and social factors. Explore the essential questions: What is a language? How do we look at languages in the world?

This lesson is a formative task that can be combined with others in The Beauty of World Languages series to build what can be a two-week unit. This activity takes one standard class period, plus after-class reflection.

Essential Questions

  • How do we choose to express ourselves?
  • How often do we take into account another’s perspective when expressing ourselves?

Enduring Understandings

  • There are hundreds of ways to express information. Speaking languages is only one way among them.
  • People can present information in a way that accommodates multiple perspectives. This means we can alter the way we would normally present information so we accommodate other people’s point of view, especially someone from our target language. It also means we can clearly describe how we alter the way we present information.
  • We can enrich the language learning experience by applying language skills in real-world contexts. This means we can enrich our language learning experience by using our target language in at least four real-world contexts.

Resources and Materials


This activity is designed to deepen students’ understanding about the essentials of communication (communicated information, communication channel, and people encoding/decoding information) by creating their own ways in expressing the assigned information “I love you.”

  1. Students can first work individually to create their own ways to say “I love you.”
  2. Suggest that students to decide on the information receiver (BF/GF/Mom/Dad/Friend/Teacher ...) first. Having a clear receiver may make this task easier, but it is up to students.
  3. This activity is called “create your own ‘language’,” but here “language” is in its broad definition. Ask students to create their own ways to express assigned information.
  4. The key point is helping students reinforce their understanding: there are hundreds of ways to express information. Speaking languages is only one way among them.


Ask students to think about this question and be ready to discuss during the next class:

When you say "I love you," how long does it take for the listener to understand what you are trying to express?

This module is aligned to the four pillars of Global Competence. It helps students:

  • Investigate the World by
    • Synthesizing facts and ideas to develop a position on a cultural issue.
    • Enhancing and deepening the study of other subjects through knowledge of the target language and culture(s).
  • Recognize Perspectives by
    • Identifying similarities and differences between the target culture and one’s own culture by comparing practices, perspectives, and products.
    • Identifying regional differences by comparing cultural products and features of languages.
    • Comparing and contrasting the nature of the target language with one’s own through reading, writing, speaking, and listening.
  • Communicate Ideas by
    • Analyzing, synthesizing, and presenting information in a way that recognizes and accommodates multiple perspectives.
  • Take Action by
    • Enriching the language learning experience by applying language skills in real-world contexts and scenarios.

Curriculum in this Series