Teaching linguistics

Teaching linguistics: Reflections on practice. Ed. by Koenraad Kuiper. London: Equinox , 2011. Pp. 235. ISBN 9781845536879. $29.95.

Reviewed by Dustin De Felice, University of South Florida

This book is comprised of eighteen chapters on teaching many of the domains within linguistics. Following an introductory chapter by Koenraad Kuiper (Ch. 1), each author discusses his or her personal approach to any of these topics: teaching, creating didactic activities, and/or crafting syllabi, among other classroom issues.

In Ch. 2, Jen Hay outlines a number of demonstrations for teaching introductory phonetics, and in Ch. 3 Andrew Carstairs-McCarthy discusses how learning phonology can contribute to a greater understanding of how theories are improved. Additionally, Laurie Bauer (Ch. 4) covers teaching morphology, and Sandra Chung (Ch. 5) details the challenges and opportunities in teaching syntax, especially in developing a teaching style that allows the students to discover syntactic argumentation on their own.

Within the fields of semantics, pragmatics, historical linguistics, and sociolinguistics, Barbara H. Partee (Ch. 6) provides a glimpse into her formal semantics teaching career and talks about the various challenges she overcame, while Christopher Potts (Ch. 7) gives a tour of his approach to pragmatics, starting with syllabus development and ending with examples for final course activities. In Ch. 8, Harold Koch gives a memoir on his experience teaching historical linguistics, covering issues like order of topics, use of exercises, varieties of courses, and issues in professional development. In Ch. 9, Miriam Meyerhoff explores her experiences with teaching sociolinguistics to a wide variety of audiences.

In Ch. 10, Paul Warren presents his personal view for teaching psycholinguistics and explores production and comprehension, while in Ch. 11, Diana Van Lancker Sidtis handles the teaching of nonliteral language with a focus on formulaic expressions and language. She presents numerous examples from within her classroom. In Ch. 12, Susan Foster-Cohen handles the teaching of language acquisition through a discussion on finding a balance between linguistic knowledge and other child developments.

For more applied and practical linguistics, David Mendelsohn (Ch. 13) explores the value in studying linguistics for ESL/EFL classroom practitioners and provides specific examples of linguistic knowledge benefitting the classroom teacher. In Ch. 14, Alison Wray offers four games for working through language origins and change. She provides the procedures for each game and includes the necessary components in the appendix. In Ch. 15, Koenraad Kuiper covers some issues, challenges, and experiences with teaching LING101, and Janet Holmes (Ch. 16) discusses postgraduate research, providing suggestions for good postgraduate supervision. In Ch. 17, Wes Collins looks at the field methods course and its importance in linking linguistic knowledge with ethnographic context. Lastly, Kate Burridge (Ch. 18) concludes the book with a discussion on metaphors and their importance to thinking.

This book is an incredible journey through the experiences of accomplished educators who share not only their insights but, in many cases, their actual classroom activities. An added benefit comes at the end of each chapter where the authors provide autobiographical information that further illuminates their perspectives and teaching priorities. This book is a unique text that offers educators the opportunity to reflect on their practices through the experience of seasoned professionals.