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Teaching about How Language Works to Diverse Populations



In this article, we describe a program that we developed at The Ohio State University's Department of Linguistics that is geared towards foreign language learners. The goal is to teach students about language rather than about linguistics. The program has been implemented as a freshman university course (Basics of Language for Language Learners), a summer institute for high school students interested in language (Summer Linguistics Institute for Youth Scholars), and an institute for high school teachers of foreign languages (Linguistics Institute for Language Teachers). The fundamental philosophy of the program is that we focus on describing how language works, not on linguistic theory, even though our theoretical perspectives guide the materials we use, how we talk about them, and what we think students should know. In this article, we outline the reasons for developing the program, its general content, details about the course and institutes, as well as some of the challenges associated with offering them.