Document Type


Publication Date



Non-linguistic majors can benefit from well-designed lessons in the introductory linguistics course that raise issues students will need to know about in their future careers. At our institution, the introductory linguistics course is populated by students majoring in English Literary Studies, Secondary Education English, and Professional Writing. Secondary Education English (SEE) majors take Language and Linguistics because they must fulfill requirements mandated by the state: knowledge of morphology, phonology, syntax, history of the English language, and so on. In addition to these required subjects, we introduce other issues as well that we feel are essential to developing these particular students’ critical awareness of language issues that will affect them as they pursue their careers in education. Research has shown that most teacher education courses limit exposure to language and linguistic topics (Goodman, 2003; Baugh, 2005; Ann and Peng, 2005). So, for instance, while a course in secondary language arts pedagogy may teach students how to help their future students develop reading strategies for assigned texts, the course probably does not discuss how community or home dialects may impede understanding of such texts. Even career topics may be differently handled depending on whether they are part of a teacher education or a linguistics course: while an education course may inform students about the possibility of studying to teach ESL, or even earn a teaching certificate in ESL, a linguistics course might alternatively explore the issue of bilingual education, opening up the topic for students to learn about some of the national and state policies that influence whether bilingual education, and thus ESL instruction, is offered or not. Because SEE majors are less likely, then, to be introduced to contemporary language and linguistic topics in their education classes, we make a point of including such issues in the introductory linguistics course. The course curricula has included, for example, historical analyses of treatments of particular language groups – Hawaiian, Native American, for instance – , investigation into the motives and goals of the U.S. English movement, study of the contested issue of bilingual education and its use across the country, researching books that have been banned for language reasons, the study of regional and ethnic dialects, and other topics that future teachers must know about to be well-informed and successful instructors. Our presentation would include suggestions for ways in which content of the introductory course can be adjusted to specific populations of students to create the most effective and relevant learning experiences.

To access PowerPoint slides for this presentation: Click the "Download" button on the upper right-hand side of the page.