When Linguistics is listed as a class option in colleges, it is not uncommon for students to bypass it simply because they don’t know what it is. However, it is possible more students would be interested in the subject if they knew how it could benefit them in their future endeavors. At VNR, we interviewed Professor Kelly Coronado. She teaches the Introduction to Linguistics course and the ESL classes at Harper College. She has a bachelor’s in Linguistics and plans to pursue a masters in the subject. She gave us the inside scoop as to why she believes more students should take an intro course to Linguistics and how it could benefit anyone no matter what field of study they had chosen.
“Taking a class in Linguistics can help you to better teach English as a second language. You can better explain and understand why certain sounds may be harder to distinguish than others,” said Coronado. She went on to further explain that teaching a group of people that don’t understand you is easier if you use a lot of actions. By knowing where the sounds of the vowels are in the mouth and how they’re formed it also gets easier to get correct them if one notices a mistake. From her experience, she has learned this has been the most helpful. This knowledge is even more useful if there is background knowledge in other cultures. For example, most Asian countries see it as impolite to fully open your mouth to produce sounds. When teaching them, it is probable that they will be reluctant to pronounce words like bat [bæt] and man [mæn]. Patience will be required before they are comfortable saying it as it should be pronounced.
By studying linguistics, one can be more understanding of people from different countries and better understand their accents. This is especially helpful to anyone working in a field that will require communication with non native English speakers. This is an important skill for those who seek a career in business as many interactions and transactions will involve communication with foreigners. Not only that, linguistics will also improve your speaking ability. You will be learning the fundamentals of your native language and learning how all the pieces work together. These are things were taught at a very young age and do without thinking. However, being more aware of them will improve your speech.
There is a standard American English dialect and it just so happens to be native to those in the Midwestern states. It is spoken by many newscasters and broadcasters on television. Linguistics is also based on this American English dialect and scholars use it as a means for comparison. So if you are able to become more aware of the phonetics behind the English Language it will improve your pronunciation and perhaps land you a job on television. It could even help improve your appearance at business meetings and inspire confidence when giving a presentation.
There are several reasons as to why taking Linguistics would be good for anyone in any field of study. Whether you’re trying to master English, get a degree in communications, or learn a new language altogether, there’s something you can learn by studying language. It’s an interesting class and it is a lot easier than it sounds. If you happen to see an intro course in your school’s course catalog, don’t hesitate to sign up.