Date: Sun, 24 Sep 1995 13:10:22 -0700


Subject: Re: Could I please ask...

On Sat, 23 Sep 1995, RENEA C BEELER wrote:

...what the advantages would be if Lig. would be a requirement?? The point

would be...? (okay, T. Irons, don't go off on me :-) Although I haven't

taken Lig. ( I might in the next couple of semesters), I just don't see the

point of requiring another English course.

Well, this brings up some interesting points which I find in my undergrad

students all the time. 1) because it's offered by an English department,

in an institution that has no Linguistics department, an IntroLing course

is seen as "another English course" even when it's about principles of

language. 2) Teachers of IntroLing in English departments, it seems to

me, have a different task than those in Linguistics departments; that is,

IntroLing in a Ling Dept funnels newcomers into the program -- and that's

how many/most of us got our original impetus. But otherwise, should we be

training our students to be linguists when 99.9% won't be, and therefore

will not find that much relevance to such rigor when it's required? I've

chosen, with my co-teacher Matthew Bronson, to create a new mix called

'Linguistic Mindfulness' which grades about 40% on the technical levels

and 60% on their own relationship to language as they begin noticing new

things about language and writing about them in their journals --

encouraging them, in a Piagetian way, to work on the world with their new

concepts and vocabulary. The results are dramatic. One student told me

about her friend seeing a linguistics book on her bed and saying, "That

was the absolute worst class I ever took in my life!", to which my

student replied, "Well, you obviously didn't take it from Professor Alford!"

But seriously: do you want to teach an Intro class to wake students up to

the beauty and power of language in their own lives, or merely to funnel

a very small number of potential students into Linguistics? If you do the

first properly, you will still do the second.