Linguistic Perspectives on Language and Education

Linguistic Perspectives on Language and Education

Linguistic Perspectives on Language and Education

Linguistic Perspectives on Language and Education

Synopsis

Language issues are intrinsically part of every classroom setting. Therefore, there is a need to present the linguistic perspective to all teachers and teachers-in-training. This perspective assumes that people internally organize language at different levels, each with its own set of organizing principles, and proposes that this complex system is learned by children at an early age and with little conscious instruction. It recognizes that languages change over time and that variation, based on region, ethnic identity, gender, social class, and social context, is inherent to language. Focusing more on the practical than the theoretical, Barry aims to engage teachers and education students in discussion of the relevance of linguistics to teaching and to encourage them to bring their own expertise to the discussion.

Excerpt

As you begin this book, you might be wondering what “linguistics” is and what the connections are between linguistics and education. Why would a book about linguistics be written specifically for teachers? One very general kind of answer is that linguistics is the study of language, and all education involves the use of language, whether we teach it directly or not. As teachers, we are always engaged in the transmission of information via language. We use language as a tool of our trade in much the same way that carpenters use hammers and nails and surgeons use scalpels (or their modern-day equivalents). This may not seem very convincing to you right now, but if this book achieves its goals, you will find that studying linguistics enriches your perception of language behavior and language interactions among individuals and informs your approach to classroom instruction.

On a more concrete level, most teaching involves the use of written language, even if our primary concern is not to teach reading and writing. The written language is an essential means by which we teach, and we expect students to engage in reading and writing at all levels of education and for all subject matter. Understanding more about the nature of spoken language, which is at the core of linguistics, enables us to better understand the relationship between oral language and its written representation. We want to understand how the form a written language takes can affect the way people learn to read and write it. We want to know more about how variation in the spoken language from one person or group of people to the next will influence their approach to the written lan-

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