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Linguistics and English language learning minors gain increased interest

2021-03-17 Micah Corum 1
Dr. Micah Corum, assistant professor of English, will share his expertise on creole lexicon during the linguistics symposium "Language, Meaning, and the Mind: Views from Creolistics, Psycholinguistics, and Applied Linguistics" at noon Friday, March 19, via Zoom. Corum was hired in fall 2020 to teach linguistics at UNG and help grow the program.

For the first time, the University of North Georgia (UNG) will host a linguistics symposium to feature research from two faculty members and one alumna.

"Language, Meaning, and the Mind: Views from Creolistics, Psycholinguistics, and Applied Linguistics," will be held at noon Friday, March 19, via Zoom. Dr. Micah Corum and Dr. Miriam Moore, both assistant professors of English, will share their expertise on creole lexicon and the mental awareness of linguistic behavior, respectively. Shea Barfield, '20, will share her research, too.

Moore said the symposium developed as interest rose in two minors in the English department: linguistics and studies in English language learning (SELL). The SELL minor was established during the 2016-17 academic year while linguistics was added in 2019-20. Corum was hired in fall 2020 to teach linguistics and help grow the program.

The SELL minor is growing in importance as the population in the region, and specifically Gainesville and Hall County, continues to diversify because of the increase in the multilingual and immigrant population.

"There is a need for teachers who can educate people who are learning a second, third and fourth language," Moore said. "A myth is out there that if you can speak English, then you can teach it. That is not true."

The SELL minor offers knowledge in language acquisition theory, language pedagogy, and applied linguistics theory. Moore said this would be ideal for students who wish to teach English overseas or teach English to second-language learners in the United States.

"This minor helps students to describe how the English language works, how to talk about it, and how to teach it," she said.

While the SELL minor focuses on teaching English, the linguistics minor focuses on the analysis of language structure, not only in English but across a number of different languages. It is ideal for students enrolling in a graduate program or those interested in becoming translators.

"This minor teaches students about linguistic knowledge and how to analyze the data. It is important to understand the analysis for graduate school students," Corum said. "They also learn about the relationship of language to society and culture."

Corum explained people make choices about how they speak based on the social setting. For example, he said people speak differently at church than at a park with friends. Or they speak to their partner differently from their grandmother. Gender, race and social class play a key role, too.

"A translator needs to be sensitive to the context, social roles and other various elements," Moore said. "The same word can have many different meanings, even in one language, depending on the context in which it is used."

Both language-based minors also fulfill UNG's mission to develop students into leaders for a diverse and global society.

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