Have you ever wondered where some English words originated? The English language has a large vocabulary that is cobbled together from many words borrowed from other countries. Approximately 29% of foreign words come from French (ambulance, parachute, and sauce for example), another 29% have Latin origins (like agenda, circus, and data) and another 26% of the English language has Germanic origins (dollar, muffin, and Kindergarten). The Greek language makes up roughly 6% of our vocabulary, and we are continually adding to it from languages worldwide.
Learning certain spellings can be much easier and more interesting for students when it is combined with learning word origins. For example, words like opossum and skunk are in fact Cree in origin and ebony, ivory, and paper are derived from the Egyptian language. Students can engage in researching word origins through creating songs, chants, and games. For example, students can present the words they’ve researched in a song:
“Words from other countries can be difficult to spell. Italian gave us macaroni and broccoli, as well.”
Fun songs like this one help make learning word origins and spelling fun and memorable.