Lesson 1: Introducing Linguistics

OBJECTIVES: 1) To introduce students to the semester’s instructors; 2) To provide an overview of the semester’s topics and general course information; and 3) To begin introducing the concept of Linguistics.


·  PowerPoint: Lesson1 Intro.ppt

·  Projector, computer, speakers

·  Previously prepared information packets (1 per student) containing:

o  1 student journal

o  1 double-sided letter to Parents in English and any other language(s) the parents/students speak

o  Consent forms:

§  Any consent forms that may be needed for the class (e.g., consent for videotaping)

§  10 copies of the slang project consent form in Spanish and/or English allowing audio recording for project (SKILLS_SlangConsent.doc and SKILLS_SpanishSlangConsent.doc). 1 copy is for the student and parent to complete and hand in, 1 copy is for parent to keep, 4 copies are for up to 4 of their friends and friends’ parents to complete and turn in, and 4 other copies are for their friends’ parents to keep.

o  If applicable, any pre-intervention surveys that need to be administered.

·  Audio recorders (ideally 1 per student, though sharing in small groups also works)

PREPARATION (Before Class)

·  Before arriving, prepare the packets that will be handed out to each student by placing the journal, a pen, and all handouts inside the folders. Also, write all instructors’ names on the board before class begins.


·  Turn on PowerPoint to Slide 1: Welcome to Language, Culture, and Society. Introduce yourselves, telling them where you are from, what you study or have studied, and why you think language is cool/interesting. Then go through the classroom and have each student provide their name, their class year, and why they are taking the class.

o  If time permits and if an ice-breaker/ warm-up activity is desired, have students also share or write on the board their 1-2 of their favorite words/ phrases.

·  Briefly explain why this program is such a special opportunity: This is the first program of its kind in California, developed by the SKILLS program at UCSB. Briefly explain what SKILLS is. We hope the program will help them learn more about language, themselves, and their community, as well as about being successful in college.

·  Explain the presence of the video camera (if applicable). If they don’t want to be videotaped at all or on a particular day, that’s fine. They and their parents have to agree to their being videotaped, and we have a form that they should sign either way.


·  Distribute the prepared folders, and go over what is inside each folder:

o  An introductory letter to parents (in English and Spanish)

o  Consent forms that both they and their parents need to sign regarding videotaping in the classroom, the slang project, and taking the survey they’ll be seeing in a few minutes. Explain that there are multiple copies because they need to return one copy of the form and keep the other for their records. If there are copies in multiple languages, the copy they turn in should be in the language in which they're LESS comfortable so that the copy they and their parents keep for their records is in the language in which they're MORE comfortable.

o  A journal that they’ll use for this class. They shouldn’t use the journal for their other classes and they shouldn’t remove any pages from it unless there’s something they don’t want us to see. We’ll make copies of their journal work but they can keep the journal.

·  Give a brief overview of what they’ll be doing throughout the program and highlight any important upcoming dates or deadlines.


·  Distribute the Pre-intervention survey. Explain that it will give us a sense of what they think about language and school now to help us gauge if the class is successful at the end. Let them know that they don’t have to fill it out, and they can skip any question that they don’t want to answer. If they choose not to fill it out, they need to indicate this on the first page and then turn it in. Remind them that the consent form for this needs to be signed by them and by their parents ASAP.

·  Note to instructor(s): When students hand in surveys, instructors should not look at them until/unless permission has been obtained from parents and students via the consent forms.


·  Switch to slide 2 in the PPT and go over the listed points. Make an important note of the sensitivity of many of the issues in this class: we may sometimes talk about language or ideas that some people may find offensive or uncomfortable. Take some time to discuss these expectations and guidelines, and if desired, encourage them to propose additional expectations.


·  Advance to Slide 3 and discuss the 3 sentences.

o  Example 1: They may say this is wrong or bad grammar. Ask if they have heard someone say something like this or have said it themselves. Do they understand this sentence? Do people who speak this way follow any grammatical rules?

o  Example 2: They should immediately see that (1) makes a lot more sense than (2). Ask them why (because of word order).

o  Example 3: They may think this sounds weird. Do they know anywhere that people say this? (Some may know that you can say it this way in England and in some parts of the US. It may sound too formal to some of them. )

·  After discussing all 3 sentences, highlight the difference between what’s linguistically acceptable and what’s socially acceptable by asking questions like:

o  Would (1) or (3) be more acceptable among their friends?

o  Would (2) ever be acceptable?

·  Emphasize that these are the kind of questions that interest linguists, who examine language not in terms of right and wrong, but with regard to its social uses. In saying that this program will not be like English class, make sure they understand linguists don’t mean to belittle English classes—they just study language differently. From the perspective of linguists, everyone has some linguistic expertise because they use language for social purposes and they encounter languages in social situations.

·  What they discover about language through this class may be brand-new knowledge that will contribute to research. To start, tomorrow we’ll focus on an area where they’re already experts: slang.

·  Collect name signs, folders, journals, pens, slang survey forms (students should take parents’ packet only).