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What Are the Best Tips for Teaching Linguistics?

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  • Written By: P.M. Willers
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 25 August 2016
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While covering the various subfields in teaching linguistics, it is critical to demonstrate to students the amazing variation among languages while also demonstrating the patterns and structures shared by all languages. In addition, it is equally as important to cover topics that are growing more popular and important in today's society. The study of current research can help students to more smoothly enter the workforce if they so desire it. Current topics of notable importance include computational linguistics, cognitive linguistics, psycholinguistics, and language and speech impairments.

Subfields should incorporate the basic essential elements of language including syntax and semantics. Other elements of linguistics include phonetics and phonology, which both involve the science of speech. Linguists also study morphology, or the patterns of word formation within a language, as well as pragmatics, which analyzes language in terms of situation and context. Additional subfields include fields that relate to language processing, memory, and language families and relations. Sociological and cultural aspects of language should be touched on as well.

Teaching linguistics requires the use of a broad variety of resources. It is important to use research and examples from different languages and from different research institutions as the methods and approaches to linguistics and the history of linguistics can vary greatly. Students should be exposed to various types of linguistic research, both in theoretical linguistics and experimental linguistics, so they can understand research methods used in linguistic research and analysis.

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Using examples from numerous languages is an essential part of teaching linguistics. The many languages of the world can provide valuable examples for students when studying the structures of language, and the production and perception of sounds. Many linguistics programs now also include the study of sign linguistics as an additional aspect of natural language research and study.

New technology has provided an abundance of resources that improve teaching methods and student understanding. One such example is the use of technology in teaching linguistics students about the anatomy of the mouth, throat, and airways in relation to the field of phonetics. Another example is the critical use of technology and linguistic examples in sound production and articulatory phonetics. As the brain loses its ability to hear certain sounds if unused, so a linguistic student needs help redeveloping these abilities. Technology, more specifically sound files and videos of language production examples from native speakers of the language can assist this process greatly.

Language acquisition is also an important aspect in teaching linguistics. This field should include information on both first and second language acquisition. Study of language acquisition and the critical period of language acquisition can help students understand the intricacies and struggles related to the acquisition of language.

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