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Cross-cultural Activities

Hello In Different Languages

Description of a Cross-Cultural Activity

James Neill
Last updated:
29 Nov 2004


Hello in Different Languages

  • The goal of this activity is to heighten cross-cultural awareness, celebrate cross-cultural knowledge, and to say  "hello" in many different languages.
  • This can be used a fun, warm-up, get-to-know-you activity with a cross-cultural theme.
  • Within a group, you may be surprised how much knowledge there is of different languages for basic phrases.

  • Optional: Ask participants to see if they can guess how many people there are in the world and how many different languages are spoken. (There are ~2800 languages and ~6 billion people. If an equal number of people spoke each language, that would be ~2 million people per language.  You might relate this to local city/town size.).

  • Challenge the group to come up with as many different languages for "hello" as possible.  When somebody volunteers (e.g., Bonjour!), make sure they say it or repeat it clearly for the rest of the group who then repeat.

  • Optional: Before people start making suggestions, ask the group to have a  guess how many collective languages the group will be able to come up with.  Don't allow discussion - just do a quick whip around each person's guess and take a rough average - that's the group's estimate.

  • The group leader keeps count on his/her fingers.

  • Was the final number of "hellos in different languages" close to the group's guess?  If the group underestimated, they may not realize the knowledge within the group that might be used to their advantage.  If the group's guess was an overestimate, why did they overestimate their knowledge resources?  Discuss.

  • Optional - to make more difficult or to add variation, try asking for these basic phrases:

    • Hello...Goodbye

    • Hello, My name is...?

    • Hello, How are you?

    • Yes...No

    • Please...Thankyou

    • Do you speak English?

    • Numbers 1-5 or 1-10

  • Optional, but recommended - have a list of hello in lots of different languages from which you can read out (see Jennifer's Language Page).  This is especially useful for groups who don't know many different languages, as well as to learn, have fun, and illustrate the range of different languages.

  • Variation: Can be run as a competition between groups.

Links:

 

 

 

 

Equipment:
None; although a list of hello in different languages is handy.

Time:
Approximately 10-15 mins.

Brief description:

This is a fun, warm-up, cross-cultural activity.  The group tries to come up the word(s) for "hello" in as many different languages as possible.