Vocabulary through geography
I’ve talked previously about learning language through other personal interests or hobbies, but how about through other academic subjects, or through general knowledge? Imagine being able to play Trivial Pursuit in your new language!
One way to boost your vocabulary is to learn what countries, cities, and people are called in your adopted language. You might even learn a few things about each place on the way.
Nations Online is a fascinating website with all sorts of information about the world on it. Their Country Lists page has links to lists of countries in eight different languages, as well as the local names for places. It also has lists of countries sorted by the mega languages they speak (Chinese, English, Spanish, Arabic, Portuguese, and French).
If you are learning one of these languages, it could be an interesting place to start research into geography, culture, traditions, and even local dialects of your chosen language.
Curt Smothers has developed an interesting exercise for Spanish learners based around Spanish-speaking country names, the names for their nationalities, and fun facts about the places. This exercise could easily be adapted for any language, and is interesting for children and adults alike.
Some fun facts:
- Belize is the only non-Spanish speaking country in Central America. Its official language is English.
- Papua New Guinea is a small country in the Pacific, and is the most linguistically-complex country in the world. Over 800 languages are spoken there.
- The most widely-spoken languages in the world are (from most speakers to least): Chinese, Hindi, English, Spanish, and Arabic.
- Africa is the continent with the most living languages, at over 2,000.
- There are nearly 7,000 living languages in the world.
Go to en.bab.la to order a full-size poster of the map above.