Introduction to Linguistics

Online for High Schoolers, Fall 2020

Course description:

Linguistics is the scientific study of language. While most often classified as a social science, it’s really an interdisciplinary field that sits at the intersection of social sciences, humanities, and STEM-–language is such a fundamental piece of our collective humanity that it almost defies categorization. This class will survey a broad range of linguistics topics. In particular, you’ll learn about:

  • How to think of language as an object of scientific study, and why linguists prefer to observe and describe language use rather than dictate what is “correct”
  • How theoretical linguists analyze and explain language data, within and across languages, including sound systems, word formation, sentence structure, and meaning
  • The roles language can play in our lives and society; how the language(s) you speak do or don’t impact your life

In 2020, with summer camps canceled, I missed out on my usual opportunity to introduce linguistics to high school aged students. I decided to fill this gap by creating my own online course, targeted toward homeschooled students as well as those enrolled in regular high schools who wanted an extra intellectual challenge to keep them occupied during the pandemic.

To accommodate the variety of schedules of my 17 students, I went for a mostly-asynchronous course design: students were able to work through each week’s module at their own pace, including watching short videos, exploring supplemental materials, and completing assignments. Those who were available also joined an optional zoom session for more face-to-face interactive learning activities.

Check out the syllabus for more details!