Carly Dickerson, a fifth year graduate student in the Ohio State Linguistics Department, has spent two days a week visiting Metro Early College High School to teach high schoolers about linguistics. Dickerson co-teaches this class with Metro Foreign Language Coordinator Angy Bernthold. They are working with the students on an ongoing project to describe non-English languages. About half of the students in the class speak more than one language and represent different cultures within the United States, so the project consists of dividing the high schoolers into pairs comprising one student who speaks a language natively and another student who does not. The students work together to create a description of the language.
This semester, the students got to visit Oxley Hall where they had a tour around the department. They heard talks from Undergraduate Coordinator Julie McGory and faculty member Brian Joseph, and also got the chance to meet a few of our excellent undergraduate students. In addition, they heard about the different opportunities and programs that exist in the Linguistics Department. Last but not least, they could not leave Oxley without going to visit some of the department's sound booths. In that activity, not only were they able to record minimal pairs of English vowels, but they also got to record in their own native languages for their projects.
The course has shifted to online-only instruction since the schools were closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and that has presented some challenges- though Metro has had online-only "virtual days" for some time, and were better prepared than most for the shift. Angy Bernthold reports that their instruction time has been cut by half, and that they are doing their best to be flexible and engaged with students and their needs. She speaks very highly of Dickerson, saying "props to Carly for making the topic so interesting."
For her part, Dickerson says that she would love for the program to continue in the future. In her experience, she has been able to see and share the students’ excitement and curiosity for language. Additionally, this program not only sparks interest in language and linguistics, but also helps students feel validated and comfortable speaking their native languages, promoting linguistic diversity.