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1 An A-level in linguistics? IoE October 2005. 2 Who are we? A working group of the HEFCE Subject Centre for Languages, Linguistics and Area Studies A.

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Presentation on theme: "1 An A-level in linguistics? IoE October 2005. 2 Who are we? A working group of the HEFCE Subject Centre for Languages, Linguistics and Area Studies A."— Presentation transcript:

1 1 An A-level in linguistics? IoE October 2005

2 2 Who are we? A working group of the HEFCE Subject Centre for Languages, Linguistics and Area Studies A Chief Examiner for A-level Eng Lang A teacher Linguists Applied linguists

3 3 The educational context Schools teach Knowledge About Language (KAL) at all levels: in English in Foreign Languages Linguistics is already taught at school in other countries

4 4 KAL in English KAL already includes parts of linguistics: –Grammar (word, sentence, text) –Variation QCAs English 21 inquiry allows fundamental rethinking A-level English Language thrives

5 5 A Level English Language Successful and growing Based on: text stylistics working with language data composition

6 6 Course Structure AQA B 1.Introduction: data-handling and text stylistics 2.Language and Social Context 3.Original Writing 4.Language Investigation Project 5.Editorial Writing 6.Language Development (Acquisition and Change)

7 Course? 1.Introduction, Text Stylistics and Language and Social Context 2.Original Writing and/or Editorial Writing 3.Language Investigation 4.Language Development

8 8 KAL in Foreign Languages Increased stress on understanding –How the target language works –How to learn a language Explicit links to KAL in English 213 specialist language colleges

9 9 Other countries The Linguistics Olympiads flourish. For secondary school students (age limit: 19) First International Olympiad: Moscow –Based on many years of local Olympiads Second: Bulgaria Third: The Netherlands –e.g.....

10 10 E.g. Lithuanian diminutives arklysarklelishorse degtukasdegtukélismatch juosta?ribbon merga?girl obuolysobuolélisapple + 11 more Task 1. Fill the gaps. Task 2. What can you say about the pronunciation of uo in Lithuanian? Explain.

11 11 The pedagogical case (1) Linguistics combines: analysis (e.g. Lithuanian diminutives) frameworks (e.g. Int Phonetic Alphabet) knowledge (e.g. how languages vary) It is: interesting for many challenging for the gifted applicable for the competent

12 12 The pedagogical case (2) Linguistics will complement other A-level language subjects: Foreign languages English language by focusing on: structure cross-language comparison

13 13

14 14 2. The Modules Four modules –which could form an independent A level (AS + A2) or fit into a diploma Focus –active data collection and analysis, –comparing different languages. –develop a toolkit of techniques for investigating language –looking at a number of languages

15 15 The Modules 1.Investigating Language 2. Structure in Language 3. Variation in Language 4. Language Research Project

16 16 Module 1: Investigating Language Main aims: introduces language and language study –what language is and ways of studying it prepares for modules 2 and 3 Topics include: language evolution/change/families, typology, variation, acquisition methods, data, analysis analytical frameworks –sounds, word-structure, sentence-structure, meaning, lexis, texts

17 17 Module 2: Structure in Language Main aims: exploring language structures comparing structural patterns across languages Topics include: typologies of: writing, sound, morphology, syntax, meanings and texts technical apparatus needed for each of these areas

18 18 Module 3: Variation in Language Main aims: exploring variation –in specific languages and across languages looking at language change and the effects of contact –between speakers of different varieties Topics include: standard languages and local varieties characteristics of contact varieties multingualism and the status of minority languages the doctrine of correct language patterns of linguistic change register and formality

19 19 Example Activities Investigating linguistic behaviour: Students explore and record facts about the linguistic behaviour of themselves or people close to them, e.g. exploring how and/or why speakers switch between different varieties and issues relating to language contact

20 20 Textual analysis and comparison: Students look at particular texts and identify features within them which are significant in terms of what they tell us about the nature of language, or which illustrate differences between different types of language, e.g. about what counts as polite in different varieties, about differences between speech and writing, about differences between different genres

21 21 Cross-linguistic comparison: Students analyse a data-set from an unfamiliar language illustrating some aspect of its phonology, morphology or syntax, leading to students supplying specified translations

22 22 Module 4: Language Research Project Main aims: applying methods and knowledge to a topic and focus of their own choice experience of research including: –generating research questions, methodology, ethics and confidentiality, supervision and writing in academic genres Any topic 2,000-4,000 word report

23 23 Language Research Project Similar to the module in use in A Level English Language since 1985 (see B.html) Linguistics A Level topics are more likely to include comparisons between varieties and between languages, with a greater attention given to descriptions of language forms and structures.

24 24 Sample topics for The Language Research Project 1.An investigation into the lexical and grammatical features of a Hong Kong Cantonese mother tongue speaker in her use of English in service encounters in a Bristol Chinese Takeaway. 2.An investigation into the reported hearing of and use of the so- called Bristol L feature among a sample of Sixth Form Students and their families. 3.An investigation of the contemporary understanding and use of the word cordial by comparison with its dictionary-defined meanings. 4.An investigation of code switching behaviour in a bilingual Bristol Sikh family.

25 25

26 26 4. Language in Scottish Schools: the political context 1.National Statement for Improving Attainment in Literacy in Schools, and investment in MFL teaching in Scottish primary schools 2.The 3 – 18 Curriculum for Excellence and the relationship between English and MFL 3.Increased dialogue between academics and SEED

27 27 LiSS: the educational context 1.Scottish and UK qualifications: Standard Grades and Highers vs. GCSEs and A-levels. 2.Recent(ish) reforms: the Advanced Higher The Advanced Higher does provide the opportunity for a focus on linguistic issues Uptake is very low: why is that? –Teachers lack resources. –No embedding of this subject in earlier years. –Students arent interested: language is boring, and only the study of literature matters.

28 28 A Higher in Language? 1. A-levels: English Language Linguistics 2.Higher in Language and the Scottish context (e.g. Culture Commission report promoting An Institute for the Languages of Scotland) 3.Possible modules: How language works Language and communities in contemporary Scotland The evolution of Scotlands languages Analyzing Scottish texts Personal investigation/portfolio

29 29 Initiatives: CLASS Committee for Language Awareness in Scottish Schools Meetings held at University of Edinburgh Made up of academics, teachers, writers, educationalists interested in language, broadly defined Seeking to raise the profile of KAL in Scottish schools Teachers keen to promote KAL are vital, so we decided to host an …

30 30 Initiatives: Information Day … Information Day for teachers 2 September 2005 Widely publicised, thanks to Scottish CiLT and The Scotsman Around 70 delegates from all over Scotland Speakers ranged from CEO of SQA to award winning Scots novelists

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