46, 47, 54 | Creative Prompts for Language Arts

This post is part of our ongoing exploration of The 64 Arts.

Knowledge is the acquisition of facts and wisdom is knowing what to do with them.

Or something like that…

Point being, it’s great to educate ourselves about something but until we put it into practice, we’re missing the best part! So here are some prompts for a bit of creative play about our foreign language, slang, and jargon topics:

Jennifer1
Explaining how our cups, pints, tablespoons, and teaspoons all interact to a room much more familiar with metric!

1. If you’re anything like me, you find helping other people incredibly rewarding. Volunteer at your local library or literacy center. They might be in need of storytime readers for the kids section or ESOL volunteer tutors like my friend Lyssa does! Even if your schedule is too busy to commit long-term, you can offer to be a guest like I was two weeks ago for a cooking segment. Put your particular skills to work in a fun way!

Melissa & Jennifer
Lyssa and I

2. Learn a new language. Again, I’m a fan of DuoLingo (though I’ve let my Italian lessons slip–gotta get back to that!) but there are plenty of other ways to go about it. To make it more interesting, create a skit in your head and use Google Translate or Babel Fish to translate it back and forth a couple of times to see how garbled it can get. Just for fun, of course.

3. Go on a word search! Not the puzzle in the activity books type, but on a hunt for word origins. One of my favorite things from Latin class back in high school was learning derivatives. Sometimes they’re obvious, but look up some innocuous words in the dictionary and see where they come from, tracking a few levels back when necessary, and it gives you a whole new perspective on what that word really means. You can do the same with phrases, too! There are books like Common Phrases and Where They Come From that will make it easy on you without resorting to too many dusty tomes. (Looks like that particular book might be out of print, but that’s what used book stores are for, right?)

4. Brave a new frontier. This next one’s not for the faint of heart (or the innocent, for that matter!) but if you’re feeling brave, go hang out on Urban Dictionary for a few hours and see what’s going on with slang today. It’s both interesting and frightening to see how words take on new meanings in common usage.

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5. Watch Auntie Mame with Rosalind Russel. Fabulous movie in general, but I specifically remember at the beginning when Patrick comes to live with Mame and he starts asking “what does ____ mean?” Mame hands him a pad of paper and a pencil and tells him to write down all the things he’s unfamiliar with so they can go over them later. Have you ever made a list like that? One of my favorite things about reading books on a Kindle (aside from the lack of strain on my thumbs) is the ability to highlight a word and instantly look it up thanks to the preloaded dictionary on the device.

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