Language in the USA Course Bridges Gap to Current Events |

Linguistics course
Just earlier than the pandemic, Stony Brook University’s Department of Linguistics accomplished the means of changing the division’s largest common training course — Language in the USA (LIN 200) — into an asynchronous on-line format. As it turned out, thanks to the surprising and sudden shift in studying brought on by the pandemic shortly after, the timing of the conversion couldn’t have been extra prescient.

Lori Repetti, professor and chair of the Department of Linguistics in the College of Arts and Sciences, described the conversion as “a multi-year process involving a large team of faculty, Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT) staff, and both graduate and undergraduate students.”

The conversion started in 2017 when a Stony Brook Online Learning Development (SBOLD) grant was awarded to Repetti and two fellow college members — Distinguished Professor Mark Aronoff and Lecturer Andrei Antonenko. Building on the success of one other asynchronous on-line course developed by Aronoff years earlier (LIN 110, Anatomy of English Words), the trio designed on-line elements and modules that have been launched to the conventional in-person course.

“We interviewed and videotaped scholars in various subfields of linguistics, edited and transcribed the interviews, looked for readings and other materials on the internet, created exercises and quizzes, discussion board prompts, and more,” stated Repetti.

The ensuing course is split into 14 modules that take care of well timed and related subjects which can be normally not addressed in different programs, together with “Language and Social Justice,” “Language and Gender,” “Native American Languages,” and extra.

Each module options an equivalent construction, starting with an overview on how to research the module adopted by a brief video clip presenting the points in a preferred and accessible method. This is adopted by a slide presentation, and an invited lecture and dialogue. This invited lecture format gives college students the alternative to study every of the subfields coated in the modules from consultants round the world. Lecturers have included nationally acknowledged linguist and social commentator John McWhorter of Columbia University and William Labov, professor emeritus at University of Pennsylvania and founding father of variationist sociolinguistics, a self-discipline that examines social variation in dialects.

The format proved an instantaneous hit with college students. In addition to masking subjects most college students can affiliate with personally, the course makes use of information and scientific strategies, which makes it interesting to STEM-oriented college students in addition to these in the social sciences and humanities. Repetti stated dialogue boards, one in every of the progressive options of the course, provide college students an expertise that’s very totally different from conventional in-person discussions.

“Every student is assigned to a group of 12 for the semester,” she stated. “Each week, one or two students are designated as discussion leaders on a rotating basis. All members of the group must respond to the leader posts. Both leader posts and responses are graded. This highly structured format means that all students participate.”

According to Repetti, the college students get pleasure from the modular strategy, including that the “NYC English” module is very in style, as are the “Bilingualism” and “American Sign Language” modules. And although the class is primarily taken by college students to fulfill Stony Brook Curriculum (SBC) credit, programs designed to be certain that college students study the expertise mandatory to facilitate life-long studying, she stated many college students uncover linguistics by the course and add it as a significant or minor. Areej Niaz ‘23, a biology main and linguistics minor, is one instance.

“I took this class to fulfill my Diversity and Inclusiveness SBC requirement, but after completing the course, I have to say it was one of the most progressive, informative, and life-altering experiences I’ve ever had,” stated Niaz. “It may seem a bit dramatic but I genuinely learned so much about social issues and the way language can affect something as trivial as how other people perceive us to something as important as witness testimonies. I enjoyed the course so much that I decided to take up linguistics as a minor. Even though I am pre-med, I believe that this course will give me more holistic knowledge.”

“Language in the United States is a genius combination of sociology, humanities, and the art of languages,” stated linguistics main Nicole Marino ‘22. “With firsthand accounts, interviews with professionals, and valuable resources, this class leaves no stone unturned while addressing cultural divides and current events with the power of language. Not only is this class well-organized and accessible, it also encourages ethical debates and critical thinking that have brought light to the diversity in languages and dialects that have been in the shadows.”

Repetti stated that the subjects coated are ones college students have private expertise with, however have by no means approached in a scientific method.

“This course is very highly structured and consists of numerous small segments,” she stated. “It also takes advantage of the medium of delivery, with a large number of presenters from around the globe who have generously contributed their expertise and who visibly share their enthusiasm for subject matter.”

The course builders, Repetti, Aronoff, and Antonenko, together with different college, college students and workers who’ve been concerned in growing the course, have submitted an article on the course to Language, the journal of the Linguistic Society of America, which describes its construction and improvements and in addition demonstrates the pedagogical success of the course.

— Robert Emproto

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