1. Is it really necessary
to learn about linguistics to be an effective
Native-speaker knowledge is not enough. While we do have
vast knowledge of our mother tongue, the fact is that we don't really know
what it is that we know. Unless we can objectify that knowledge of our language and
articulate it to our students, we will not be able to help them as they stumble through
the "minefields of English" toward mastery.
2. How can linguistics help
me when I have already had years
and years of rather boring English grammar?
Linguistics is a much broader field than grammar.
It is the soil from which the grammars of language emerge. Only linguistics is comprehensive
enough to reveal the underlying framework of language, the "skeletal structure"
which holds it together. This knowledge can set students free to generate their own future knowledge of the language,
and in broad terms, without that self-generating knowledge they cannot achieve success in their chosen fields.
3. Why is it that all students, even those
in seemingly unrelated fields such as math or physical education, need to comprehend the structure of English?
It is impossible to avoid linguistics, no matter what you teach.
The material of a course of instruction can be delivered only through language. If students’ mastery of the four
functions of language (understanding/listening, speaking, reading and writing) is truncated, so too will their knowledge of
a particular subject be truncated.
4. Why is there urgency
in learning the building blocks of language?
Research has demonstrated that if children do not have
an age-apppropriate understanding of the building blocks of language by 3rd or 4th grade, they will find it almost impossible
to keep up with material taught to them in subsequent grades. Without a thorough grounding in
the building blocks of language they run the risk of joining the one-fourth of the adult American population who are
ESL teachers around the world also have an urgent need to objectify
their knowledge of English so that they can help their students to:
- Accurately produce the phonetic realizations of English
- Grasp the word-formation principles of English (morphology)
- Take control of the world of meaning (semantics)
- Build sentences accurately and intentionally (syntax).
The material in Linguistics for
Educators bridges that gap and
provides educators with the means to “find their students” wherever they may be in their linguistic floundering.