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English Words of Arabic Origin

A Group Project Abroad (GPA) by Beate W. Nguyen

Topic: English words of Arabic origin

Subject: Language Arts/Spelling/Vocabulary

Duration of Lesson(s): 45 minutes

Grade Level: Junior High, Grades 6-8th

Rationale: This lesson is part of Zillij³ (pronounced “Zellige” to the Third Degree), a two-week thematic unit (K-8th Grade) on North Africa and Islam. The
thematic unit emphasizes the cultural similarities that exist in our worlds. Zillij³ refers to the perfectly matching connections of a hand-sculpted
elaborate mosaic typically found in buildings and houses of worship in Morocco. Here, it echoes the amazing multi-cultural heritage of the
country and its people,…and mirrors a third degree that connects us all so perfectly – the human dimension.

This lesson addresses specifically the evolution of language over time. It allows students to understand that through global interaction, both ancient
and new, human beings “borrow” words from each other.

The English language today, utilizes words borrowed or modified from French, Spanish, German, Greek, Latin, and many other origins. We do
not realize that some of the very common words we use everyday, have their origin in the Arabic language. Whether these words were in turn borrowed from other cultures is not significant for the purpose of this unit.

Lesson Objectives:

  1. Understand that language evolves through time and cultures
  2. Recognize that the English language has borrowed words fromother cultures, including North Africa.
  3. Identify common words of Arabic origin in their own daily vocabulary
  4. Hypothesize how or why these words may have been borrowed in the context of their social studies dealing with North Africa, Islam, and trade routes


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