Not another degree?

by Suw on June 22, 2003

I’ve just watched a documentary on linguistics. There aren't that many of them about, and it had the effect of making me want to go and do a second degree in linguistics. I’ve been quite into linguistics for a while now, but had no time to pursue the interest as much as I would have liked.

Ironically, given how much I dislike my current ?home? town of Reading, the University of Reading here does a part-time course in linguistics, and apparently has quite a good reputation.

I really don’t have time right now for a part-time degree, but if things pan out ok with the business, then I could put it down to business development. One of the things I’ve been wanting to do with Get Fluent for ages is to develop a section on learning techniques based on what I’ve gleaned from books by Stephen Pinker, as well as the mind map/memory stuff detailed by Tony Buzan.

Thing is, I want to be more widely read on this stuff before I start distilling it out as practical advice for learners, but I’ve not really had the time. I bought Ray Jackendoff’s Foundations of Language ages ago, and have still not read it. Plus I’ve been thinking a lot over the last year about how to design modular language learning software that could not only be adapted to any language, but also would be suitable for a multiplicity of learning styles.

So a degree in Linguistics would be really quite useful in terms of business development.

Amazing how fast I can convince myself that a good idea is actually a good idea. 😉

Well, I’ve emailed them for further info, and we’ll see what we shall see.

(By the way, if anyone wants to know how I did with my ought-based decision today, the answer is ?not bad?. I got the next five worksheets planned, and did a bit of work on the most pressing of those, No. 39 The Vikings and Norse Mythology. I can go to sleep guilt-free tonight.)

A visitor June 22, 2003 at 10:55 pm

Linguistics, I studied the subject in Uni. Enjoyed it very much at the time especially the sociolinguistics side of things – how we work out status and power relationships through language, also minority languages was great too but I would say that.
I can't remember that much about my language learning modules (didn't continue along that path in life), only about the theory that the best age to learn languages is 7 (or 9 according to another chap). It's worth taking a look at though especially if you're into learning systems. I think I wrote an essay on comparing different types of learning methods…god knows where it is tho.
Anyway, you're right about needing a storm, this weather is orrible, gimme some freshish…Nwdls


Suw June 23, 2003 at 1:38 pm

Yeah, I'm getting really into linguistics and language learning systems, as and when time allows. And obviously I've also got an interest in minority languages, but not sure if the UoR degree covers that at all. I'll have to see.

To me, though, it appears that languages are hard to learn because the way that they're taught is counter-intuitive. There have to be some learning methods that really tap into the way that the brain naturally processes language. Most of the language learning systems and material I've read over the last five years since I first started learning Welsh has been utter tripe. I keep thinking, there has to be an easier way to do this, because we do it so effortlessly as children. We're virtually hard-wired for communication, so why is it so difficult to learn a language as an adult?

Hm, anyway, i'm not going to elaborate on that too much without thinking a bit harder about it first. 😉

BTW, no storm last night, but it did rain a lot. From the state of her when she came in at 4.30am, that rain fell mainly on Fflwff. Ah, so nice to have a soggy moggy cuddle up to you in the middle of the night…

A visitor June 23, 2003 at 7:31 pm

Although there are obviously differences in learning a language as a child vs as an adult, I'm not o sure it's so much worse as an adult _given the difference in the amount of time and attention_. I mean, language-learning is a major, highly time-consuming activity for several years when one is a child, with lots of one-on-one 'tutoring'.

I thought about minoring in linguistics, but one course cured me of that. I love historical linguistics, Lesser-Used Languages and RLS, etc, but the department at my university was overwhelmingly into Chomsky, universal grammar and deep structure and all that. I hated it, and I don't trust it – I resent how this sort of linguistics has driven out *actually* learning other languages and all the marvelous diversity of them.

Anna Wierzbicka, that's the sort of linguistics I appreciate. (I think she was the one who pointed out in a review of one of Pinker's books that his biblio was *entirely* sources in English.)

Atlantic []

Suw June 23, 2003 at 10:21 pm

I think a large part of the difference between learning as a child and as an adult is that as a child you're unaware of what it is that you're doing, you just do it. Whereas in adulthood, there's a whole matching set of luggage attached to anything that involves 'learning', because so often learning stuff is made tedious as hell by people who may have the knowledge but certainly don't have the imagination to communicate that knowledge in an entertaining and engaging manner.

I haven't read any Chomsky yet, although I will admit that Pinker's opinions on deep structure make far more sense to me than the idea of deep structure itself. I'd really like to get a better grip on linguistics though, because i'm sure that I could apply it to what i'm doing with my business.

In the meantime, I will look up Anna Wierzbicka – cheers for the tip!

A visitor June 24, 2003 at 7:32 pm

You're right about uninspiring teaching. The whole reasoning for me getting into language was a teacher in school who managed to communicate French to me in suc han effortless way that I felt obliged to find other languages to learn. I've haven't found anyone that competent after. It's difficult to learn something in isolation too, I mean I learnt Spanish twice a week for six months and now I'm going there in two weeks I'm bricking it! There's none of that immersion you have when you're a kid, totally surrounded by it. Kids tend not to get embarassed about trying stuff either.

In my opinion everybody has different systems that they use to learn language most efficiently. I prefer to memorise grammar and verbs then do writing exercises or read to get my vocabulary up. I'm so crap at the oral stuff (ooer!). Maybe my mind is just a bit too slow for that thinking on the spot stuff! Call me Linguasloth. Tan toc.

Nwdls []

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