24.S95 | Spring 2023 | Graduate

Linguistics in K–12 Education

Why Teach Linguistics in Schools?

Below, Prof. Maya Honda discusses the rationale for introducing linguistics as a topic of study at the middle school and high school level.

Everyone knows a language. This means that every student brings to the classroom a rich, accessible database of linguistic knowledge that can be used to give students the opportunity to become familiar with the methods, concepts, and attitudes of scientific inquiry. By examining and constructing explanations for language phenomena, such as how we pluralize nouns or how we ask a question, students can make their tacit knowledge of language explicit. Again and again in my work with fifth graders on up, students have been surprised to uncover things about language that they never knew they knew. This kind of learning is enlightening and empowering: enlightening because students learn about language, which is at the core of who we are as human beings, and empowering because they realize their ability to engage in scientific inquiry.

In linguistics, middle school and high school students can do research and theory construction at a fairly sophisticated level without any special equipment. They can really do linguistics. The traditional school sciences don’t offer a similar opportunity.

Course Info

As Taught In
Spring 2023
Learning Resource Types
Instructor Insights
Lecture Notes
Written Assignments with Examples