The SaypYu project: one global language25-Jul-2013
A recent article in the Telegraph led me to discover an intriguing collaborative project called SaypYu, whose aim is to create one global alphabet combining all sounds in every language in the world, to standardize spelling and pronunciation. SaypYu stands for Say as you pronounce Universal project, and the website explains their aim to create this global language which will one day be used all around the world.
This poses an interesting question for language students, especially those of English, whose pesky pronunciation and unpredictable spelling “rules” can be troublesome for foreign learners. Why not introduce the SaypYu project to your students and create a lesson based upon it? Below are a few ideas:
• Tell students about the SaypYu concept but don’t explain the rules or tell them the alphabet. Put them into groups and get them to come up with their own new global alphabet to standardize language, using their knowledge of English and any other languages they know. This would work really well in a multi-lingual class because you could mix groups to maximise the range of languages in each one.
• Get them to create posters or, if they like technology, infographics presenting their new standardized global language. Each group could present their final results to the class and then compare and contrast their decisions, explaining why they made certain choices. The results will probably differ vastly based on the other languages spoken in each group.
• Divide the class into “for SaypYu” and “against SaypYu” and hold a debate. The SaypYu website should provide a good basis for some prompt questions to get the discussion going.
• If you’re teaching an academic English class, set them an essay title such as “SaypYu will, in the next few decades, definitely become the global language. Discuss.” This will provide an interesting topic for them, as well as the chance to practise and get feedback on very real academic writing skills.
• For advanced classes, give students the SaypYu alphabet and phonetic chart, and give them a text based on a topic you’ve recently been teaching. Ask them to work in pairs or groups and try and translate the original English text into SaypYu.
If you use any of these ideas, or have any comments on the SaypYu project yourself, please leave us a comment below: I’d love to know what you think!