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Sociolinguistics Courses

I regularly teach courses on sociolinguistics for the Language, Literacy & Culture Program at UMBC.

  • Language in Diverse Schools and Communities explores the intersections of language and culture, region, race/ethnicity, identity, and other social factors within the contexts of diverse communities and social institutions, especially schools.  We focus on language as a mechanism in the social construction of racial, ethnic, cultural, regional, and personal identities, the role of ideology, questions of language standards and standardization, and applications to current social problems, particularly those facing speakers of stigmatized language varieties. We address these issues for a variety of cultural groups; many of the course readings focus on the U.S. context, but students are able to apply these models to the study of other communities and institutions.  Throughout the semester, students are engaged in designing educational or other applied projects that bring the sociolinguistic knowledge they learned in the course to a variety of publics.  In 2009, my students engaged in service-learning by interning with teachers in a Baltimore high school to co-develop sociolinguistics-based lesson/project plans.  In 2011, my students produced four podcasts on Baltimore language and culture, and in 2015, they produced a short film, “Voices of UMBC,” that highlights linguistic diversity on campus.
  • Language, Gender, and Sexuality is designed to promote critical thinking about the relationship between language, gender, and sexuality and how language use mediates the social construction of gender and sexuality, in our daily practice and in our social institutions. Students learn how language, gender, and sexuality have been conceptualized and characterized in research from sociology, sociolinguistics, gender and women’s studies, education, and other related fields and disciplines. Students also learn to assess scholarly research from a variety of fields and disciplines on the role of language in the construction of gendered, sexual, and other identities and conduct original, empirical research about issues related to language, gender, and sexuality.

Research Methods Courses

I also regularly teach courses on research methods for the Language, Literacy & Culture Program at UMBC.

  • Methods in Language, Literacy, and Culture Research provides students with an understanding of research methods for studying language, literacy, and culture, primarily from the disciplines of sociology, linguistics, education, anthropology, and communications.  Major course objectives are to understand the various components and stages of the social science research process, to understand the values, politics, and ethics of social science research, and to learn how to design a manageable research project. I employ Team Based Learning, an approach that has been found to significantly improve students’ long-term knowledge retention, while also building skills in collaboration, problem-solving, and application.
  • Ethnographic Methods provides a systematic overview of ethnographic methods, as used primarily in social science disciplines of anthropology, sociology, linguistics, and education. Students cover theoretical perspectives, research techniques, research design, data management, data analysis, and ethical questions relevant to ethnographic research. During the course, students propose and conduct original, short-term ethnographic research projects pertaining to language, literacy, and culture.
  • Discourse and Conversation Analysis engages students in an area of study collectively known as discourse analysis, drawing on interdisciplinary theories and methods. Students are prepared to conduct critical, close readings of spoken and written texts, analyze how power and ideology circulate through language, and compare methods to select the most useful to fit their own research interests.

“Teaching American Speech”

From 2007 to 2017, I served as the (founding) associate editor of the pedagogical section “Teaching American Speech,” published in each summer issue of the journal American Speech since Summer 2008. “Teaching American Speech” includes full-length articles; briefer notes on course construction, assignments, evaluation, classroom technique, resources, etc.; and reviews of relevant texts that attend to teaching about American speech in any of a number of settings. For more information, visit the Teaching American Speech Facebook page.


I am also former moderator (and founder) of the Teaching Linguistics (TeachLing) listserv, which provides a place to discuss and distribute news on pedagogy, curriculum development, public engagement and outreach, and other issues related to teaching linguistics. Click here to join!


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