Multilingual walls

Necessary material

Word cards, picture cards, objects

Objective of the activity

The aim of this activity is to create opportunities to discover the similarities and differences between words and phrases from different languages.

The pupils play the role of “linguistic reporters”. They search, discover and report similarities. Together, the class discovers links between languages.

This activity also strengthens theamorçage lexical / lexical priming When similarities between words and phrases become apparent, students not only make positive connections to the new language(s) but also enrich their personal repertoire of word and phrase connections between languages.

Lexical priming suggests that we acquire one or more languages based on how words are used in the real world. Words are not limited to the definitions given to them in dictionaries, but interact with other words in common usage patterns.

Words are “primed” by our experience of them, so whatever we know of a word is the product of our encounters with that word.

This knowledge explains how speakers of a language manage to be fluent, creative and natural.



Preparing for the activity

For each subject, the teacher prepares a selection of words and phrases accompanied by images, symbols or graphics that will be essential for understanding the key terms. Knowing the dialects and languages understood and/or spoken by the students in their class will help the teacher in their selection, especially if equivalents can be identified and used in the process of developing intercomprehension.

Intercomprehension is the development of the ability to co-construct meaning when different languages come into contact and to use it pragmatically in a specific communication situation. In other words, intercomprehension is also the ability to understand a language (without necessarily having studied it before) in a given context by using the developed discourse competence. Capucho, F.

“Línguas e identidades culturais: da implicação de políticos (socio)linguistas”. In Fábio L. da Silva & Kanavillil Rajagopalan (orgs), A linguística que nos faz falhar. São Paulo: Unicamp: Parábola Editorial, 2004. 83 -87

Each word or sentence will be presented on a wall with pictorial support and representations of the word in the different languages spoken and learned in the class.

Significant benefit of the activity

Multilingual walls allow students to make connections and find similarities between languages.

If students create the identification of links between languages with their peers,

priming effects will be even stronger. Additionally, students should create multilingual lexical notebooks that include only specific words and phrases.


Teachers select words and phrases in advance.

They write/place the words in the language of instruction on the board and ask the students to match them with pictures, symbols or graphics.

Students are also encouraged to participate by choosing words and phrases. Students tell the teacher which words and phrases they want to use.

Students tell the teacher the words and phrases in the languages they know and write the words/word cards themselves or

with the help of the teacher and/or modern media.

When words or phrases from other writing systems and alphabets appear, the teacher can have students write down the word and phrases or create a word map using modern media.

Students present the words and phrases in their language to their peers.

In the case of other alphabets, they explain what they write, the meaning of the letters and, if possible, write the corresponding Latin letters.

With the multilingual wall complete for now, the class can compare languages and words.