National Geographic's Enduring Voices Project strives to preserve endangered languages by identifying hotspots.
Does the city or town in which you live have a neighborhood in which a language other than English is commonly spoken? Are there restaurants that specialize in foods from other countries? If you live in or near a large urban area, is there a mosque or Buddhist temple?
How did these diverse cultural features come to your city or town? The movement of people, goods, or ideas from one place to another is a part of a process known as diffusion. And diffusion plays an important role in shaping the unique characteristics of the places in which we live.
a) Engage students in a discussion of the process of diffusion. Have them identify cultural characteristics of the local area that may be a result of diffusion, e.g., foods, religions, historic or cultural markers, local place names, celebrations, etc.
b) Gather a set of phone books for your or a nearby city or town. Divide students into small groups and assign each group one of the categories of diffusion that the class has identified. Have students scan listings in the phone books, especially the Yellow pages, to identify specific examples of diffusion in your community or a nearby city.
Presenting the Data
c) Once the students have collected data about diffusion in your community or a nearby city, have them sort the data by country or major region.
d) Now have the students prepare maps that show the source areas for the examples of diffusion that they have identified. Have them add lines to their maps that show that these countries or regions are linked to your local area.
e) Display student maps and lead a class discussion of how your local area has been influenced by diffusion.
Extending the Activity
a) Encourage students to research major diffusion streams that have affected world cultural patterns, such as:
i. the spread of the English language
ii. the spread of major religions
iii. major population movements
b) Have students search the Internet for photos and maps that reflect cultural diffusion. Have them use presentation software, such as PowerPoint, to share their research with the class.
Registration for the National Geographic Bee is online.
This year registration for the National Geographic Bee is online only. Materials will be available for download as soon as registration payment ($100 per school) is processed. Each year thousands of schools in the United States participate in the National Geographic Bee using materials prepared by the National Geographic Society. The contest is designed to motivate students to learn about the world and how it works. Schools with students in grades four through eight are eligible for this entertaining and challenging competition.
Watch and see if you can answer the video questions from Keith Urban and astronaut Rick Mastracchio from the 2014 National Geographic Bee championship.
How to Help
Donations help fund schools to participate in the National Geographic Bee.
Fifty-four of the nation’s brightest young geography whiz kids will gather in Washington, D.C., from May 19 to 21 to take part in the 26th annual National Geographic Bee.
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The movement of people, goods, or ideas from one place to another is a process known as diffusion, which plays an important role in shaping the characteristics of where we live.
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