5th Grade Foreign Languages in the United States Math Pathfinder


This Pathfinder will help you to discover how the English language developed into the form we speak today and then investigate the different foreign languages which are currently spoken in the United States. Your job will be to collect any data about the foreign languages currently spoken most often. After collecting that data, you are asked to organize it into a graph or table. Then using your data, you will determine which foreign language is growing at a faster rate and the probability of one of the foreign languages to be spoken the most by 2020. Be ready to present your findings to the class. During your investigation you may also want to think about the following: How did early peoples of the United States learn to communicate with each other? When immigrants to the United States have to learn English do they lose anything in the process? Which foreign language are you interested in learning and why?

Iowa Core Curriculum Essential Concepts and Skills


  • Represent and analyze data using tallies, pictographs, tables, line plots, bar graphs, circle graphs, and line graphs

  • Describe the distribution of the data using mean, median, and mode or range

  • Propose and justify conclusions and predictions based on data

Social Studies

  • Understand the changing nature of society

  • Understand the process of how humans develop, learn, adapt to their environment and internalize their culture

  • Understand how to evaluate social research and information

21st Century Skills


  • Use technology resourses to create original products, identify patterns and problems, make predictions and propose solutions

  • Use technological resources to develop and refine questions for investigation

Information Literacy


  • Engage in the information literacy process: access, evaluate, communicate information and ideas

Keywords & Search Terms:





Languages in the US

Foreign Language(s)


Language and Languages-Origin




Foreign Language Education


American History


English as a second language

Dewey Decimal Classifications

422 Etymology of Standard English

304.8 Immigration

917 & 977 Iowa

Sources To Use In Your Research:


General and Subject Encyclopedias

Children’s Illustrated Encyclopedia- YR 030 C, (Dorling Kindersly, 2006)

World Book Student Online- Access through AEA Online

For searching both the in-print and online Encylopedias you can use the following keywords: communication, language(s), bilingualism, multilingualism, languages in the US, foreign language(s), etymology, language and languages-origin

American History: Academic Edition (ABC-CLIO) Access through Rod Library’s A-Z databases

In this online subject Encylopdeia use the phrase: foreign language spoken in the united states in the "Quick Search" box



DK Merriam Webster Children's Dictionary- YR 423 D, (Merriam Webster, 2008)

Look up the term Language and find its definition



Historical Atlas of the United States- Map REF G1201, (National Geographic, 2004)

You can look up how migration of people, which influences languages, spread across the United States. Check the index for immigration and language.

Atlas of Hispanic History- Map REF .C55, (Checkmark, 2001)

This has a variety of information about Hispanic culture. It includes many graphs and charts which detail the numbers and percentages of the Hispanic culture's movement and growth. Look up language in the table of contents and index.


Web Sites

Census Bureau

FirstGov for Kids

For both of these government sites you can use the following search terms: languages in the US & Iowa

Iowa Official Register

From this site you should enter the search terms: foreign language in Iowa, this will take you to Iowa World Language Association

Iowa World Language Association

Here you can find a lot of different information relating to foreign languages in Iowa


Newspaper Article

Schiller, D. (2008, July 19). Help's nearby, if not the 911 worker: For callers who speak a foreign language, firm uses interpreters around the globe. Houston Chronicle, Retrieved from Newspaper Source database. University of Northern Iowa. 10 Nov. 2010


Magazine Article

Ruethling, G. (2005, October). Classes in chinese grow as the language rides a wave of popularity.(National Desk). The New York Times, A12(L). Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center. Gale. University of Northern Iowa. 10 Nov. 2010

NA. (1992, January).Sign language: A way to talk, but is it foreign?(National Desk). The New York Times. Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center. Gale. University of Northern Iowa. 10 Nov. 2010



The World Almanac and Book of Facts- YR 310 W, (World Almanac, 2010)

Look in the index for statistics on the foreign languages spoken in the United States.



Jones, C. (2010, November 8). He'd like to teach the world to talk. USA Today, p. 01B.

An article on Tom Adams, the founder and CEO of the language-learning company Rosetta Stone, will help you understand the need for learning a second language in today's increasingly global society.


Fiction Sources

Soto, Gary. Chato's Kitchen. G. Putnam's Sons, 1995

In this picture book Chato, a low-riding, cool cat from the barrio, has new neighbors who are mice move in next door. He decides to invite them to "dinner" in order to make a meal out of them. His plans go awry when he lets them bring a friend from their old neighborhood to dinner with them, only to find out that the friend is a dog. This book is full of Spanish words and colorful pictures which detail the flavor of Hispanic art.

Base, Graeme. Jabberwocky. Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1987

This poem found in Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll, is a delightful play on words in the Enlgish language. It is written in both familiar English words and nonsensical vocabulary but if the reader is familiar with grammar and the parts of speech, the story line remains intact.



American Heritage: Immigration to the United States- Accessed through Discovery Education, full video, 100% Educational Videos, 2004, running time: 20 minutes


Your Librarian

Mrs. Callan!

See me if you are stuck.

We can work together to determine if your search terms are getting you the right information for your topic.

Research is a process and it is not an easy one. I am always happy to help you with your library questions.