Date: Wed, 16 Apr 1997 15:46:41 -0700
From: Peter Richardson prichard[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]LINFIELD.EDU
Subject: plea for advice

This coming fall I'll be teaching a freshman writing (English) course for
the first time, and I'd like some advice from all (or some) of you out
there. I'll preface this by saying that I've been teaching for 33 years,
but it has been in modern/medieval languages, and I've never had the joy
of teaching English. Now that our college has adopted a new curriculum
that spreads responsibility for Freshman English among the faculty, this
is about to change.

Mercifully, we get to choose our topic, and I have declared that I will
teach a course called "Language Matters." (That second word is both verb
and noun.) I intend to touch on many subjects, as you will see from the
following, but I have no idea how to go about choosing a text--or
texts--and opine that I might just have to put together a "reader." Any
suggestions? Thanks very much in advance!

Peter Richardson
Linfield College / Oregon

Language Matters will inquire into the nature of language through its use
in the United States today. It will examine:

a. history
the influence of other languages on the development of the emerging
American idiom;
the role of dialects as a source of constant renewal for American
the role of folk song and speech in defining our collective sense of

b. current issues
Black English;
the presence of minority languages (Puerto Rican Spanish, Cajun French,
Haitian Creole, etc.) within the greater English-speaking population;
language politics, language planning, and the English Only movement;
the political, economic, and social functions of a standard language;
hate speech;
additional topics (jargon, argot, onomastics) as time permits.

Central to our investigations and discussions will be the premise that
language indeed does matter. Whatever its context may be, it fosters or
hinders human relationships and must be used carefully. Students will
practice writing with different voices (e.g. letter to the editor, tour
brochure, assembly instructions, membership solicitation, broadside) and
playing the roles in class that they have had to assume in their
assignments. A portfolio of the term's written work will determine
two-thirds of the course grade. One-third of the grade will be based on
class participation.