EN231 Introduction to Language

for SP 2010

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EN 231 Introduction to Language


SP 2010 HO


Atkinson, Stephen


Associate Professor, English

Office Location


Office Hours

MWF 8-10, MW 12-1 and by appointment

Daytime Phone




Semester Dates

January - May 2010

Class Days


Class Time


Credit Hours


Clark, Eschholz, Rosa, Language, 7th edition.  Bedford St.Martin's

Additional Resources:

McAfee Memorial Library - Online information, links, electronic databases and the Online catalog. Contact the library for further assistance via email or at 800-270-4347.
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Course Description:
As an introduction to a general study of language, the course deals with the origin, nature and function of language as a uniquely human phenomenon. The history of English language and a survey of approaches to the analysis of languages are important components. 3:0:3

Educational Philosophy:

 Students are responsible for their own learning. The instructor's job is to create an environment in which learning can flourish, design opportunities for learning appropriate to the discipline and the course goals and objectives, and contribute expertise and experience that will support the student's own work.

Learning Outcomes:
  Core Learning Outcomes

  1. Identify standard components of language: phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics
  2. Apply linguistic categories to the problems of language acquisition and dialect variation
  3. Sketch the history of English language and translate/modernize selected archaic texts

  Instructor Learning Outcomes
  1. Though we will deal with hot controversies, our approach will aim to be careful and dispassionate. Popular ideas about language are often clouded by ignorance and prejudice; we'll work to avoid both. None of this means, though, that the class will be dull. Our classes will be active, hands-on work with elements of the study of language.
  2. You won't be asked simply to absorb information but to use information to tackle specific problems, and we will look at problems with practical implications for classroom teaching, for the study of literature, for raising children, and for the understanding of human cultures as mediated by language.
  3. I guarantee that you will use what you learn here, both professionally and personally, for the rest of your life.
Core Assessment:

Critical Essay [Core Assessment] 100 points  The Critical Essay in this course will be a major critical paper of no fewer than 5 pages, which will include research and MLA documentation. The project will be completed in the final quarter of the term.

Link to Class Rubric

Class Assessment:

1. Class participation. In view of the nature of the course, active, engaged participation in classroom work is essential. You must keep up with the reading and be prepared to take part in discussion, in-class writing, and hands-on problem solving in every class meeting. One-quarter of the grade depends on your daily commitment to the class. Attendance, therefore, is crucial.
2. Journal. The journal will replace quizzes and tests, allowing you to demonstrate in your own terms your understanding of the material in the course. The journal will consist of three elements: a) completion of assigned exercises that appear following the readings or others assigned in class; b) your response to each assignment, which may follow or modify tasks from the "Discussion and Review" sections or consist of ideas and reactions of your own; c) any in-class writing exercises. Be sure to bring your journal to class if you keep it in a notebook.

The journal will be evaluated on two criteria: completeness and fullness. Every reading assignment and in-class activity must be represented for a top grade.
3. Research project. The research project will be both a team and an individual activity. Teams will be formed early in the semester to examine a single broad area. You may choose from the list below or develop an area of your own, but no one operates alone on this. Once it has chosen an area, the team will do enough preliminary investigation--including conferring with me-- to divide the area into related but individual topics. Each member will prepare a 5-7 page researched essay on their particular topic, but the team will continue to function as consultants and editors for each member.

Here is my list:
                         The Language Practices of African Americans and the Ongoing Ebonics Controversy.
                         What Parents Should Know About Language Acquisition
                         Natural and Synthetic Language: The Cases of AMESLAN, Esperanto, etc.
                         Computers and Language: Speech Recognition, Editing Programs, Machine Translation
                         What Classroom Teachers Need to Know About Contemporary Linguistics
                         Linguistics and the Study of Style in Literature
                         Language and Gender
                         Immigration: Learning Another Language, Another Culture
                         Language Change : Progress and Resistance
4. Presentation of Research. The research team will present their findings together during the last weeks of the semester. They will design the presentation to showcase each member's work but also to tie the separate projects back together under the overall area, with an emphasis on providing useful information to the rest of the class. Again, I will consult as requested.


The grading system is simple. Notice, though, that a top grade will demand solid performance in every category.
    Class participation         25%
    Journal                          25%
    Research essay              25%
    Research presentation    25%

Classroom Rules of Conduct:
Laptops may certainly be used for class work; if you keep your journal in an electronic file, bring the laptop to every class.

Please do not use the laptop for any other purpose.  When it's not in use, close it.  Please turn off all other electronic devices; if you're expecting an urgent phone call, let me know before the class starts.

Course Topic/Dates/Assignments:

Here is our working schedule.  The schedule may be adjusted in accordance with class proceedings.
Week 1          Introduction to the Study of Language
Week 2          Phonetics and phonology
Week 3          Morphology
Weeks 4-5     Syntax
Week 6          Semantics
Weeks 7-8     Language acquistion: theoretical and pragmatic
Weeks 9-10   Dialect Study and sociolinguistics
Weeks 11-12  History of the Language
Week 13         Conference, Revision of drafts
Weeks 14-15  Presentations by research teams
By Week 5, you need to have formed teams and chosen a research area--either one from the list above or one of your own devising. You are welcome to come up with plans of your own, but I must approve them ahead of time, so no one gets stuck with a project too time-consuming or impractical in terms of resources.
By Week 8, the members of the team must have their own topics delineated and submit one-paragraph proposals.
By the end of Week 12, full-length drafts are due.
Final versions are due after presentations, in Week 15.

Academic Honesty:
Academic integrity is the foundation of the academic community. Because each student has the primary responsibility for being academically honest, students are advised to read and understand all sections of this policy relating to standards of conduct and academic life.   Park University 2008-2009 Undergraduate Catalog Page 87

Plagiarism involves the use of quotations without quotation marks, the use of quotations without indication of the source, the use of another's idea without acknowledging the source, the submission of a paper, laboratory report, project, or class assignment (any portion of such) prepared by another person, or incorrect paraphrasing. Park University 2009-2010 Undergraduate Catalog Page 92

Attendance Policy:
Instructors are required to maintain attendance records and to report absences via the online attendance reporting system.

  1. The instructor may excuse absences for valid reasons, but missed work must be made up within the semester/term of enrollment.
  2. Work missed through unexcused absences must also be made up within the semester/term of enrollment, but unexcused absences may carry further penalties.
  3. In the event of two consecutive weeks of unexcused absences in a semester/term of enrollment, the student will be administratively withdrawn, resulting in a grade of "F".
  4. A "Contract for Incomplete" will not be issued to a student who has unexcused or excessive absences recorded for a course.
  5. Students receiving Military Tuition Assistance or Veterans Administration educational benefits must not exceed three unexcused absences in the semester/term of enrollment. Excessive absences will be reported to the appropriate agency and may result in a monetary penalty to the student.
  6. Report of a "F" grade (attendance or academic) resulting from excessive absence for those students who are receiving financial assistance from agencies not mentioned in item 5 above will be reported to the appropriate agency.

Park University 2009-2010 Undergraduate Catalog Page 95

Disability Guidelines:
Park University is committed to meeting the needs of all students that meet the criteria for special assistance. These guidelines are designed to supply directions to students concerning the information necessary to accomplish this goal. It is Park University's policy to comply fully with federal and state law, including Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, regarding students with disabilities. In the case of any inconsistency between these guidelines and federal and/or state law, the provisions of the law will apply. Additional information concerning Park University's policies and procedures related to disability can be found on the Park University web page: http://www.park.edu/disability .


CompetencyExceeds Expectation (3)Meets Expectation (2)Does Not Meet Expectation (1)No Evidence (0)
1, 2                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 
Offers clearly stated personal and critical insights into language and linguistics. Makes adequate personal and critical statements, which are relevant and interpretive. Provides only a report, which lacks interpretation or point of view. Does not submit assignment or does not respond appropriately to assignment. 
1, 2                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 
Incorporates primary and secondary sources using MLA documentation style perceptively and creatively in ways that provide new insights into language problems. Incorporates primary and secondary sources using MLA documentation style adequately without particularly fresh insights, but still retains personal voice. Primary and secondary sources used rarely if at all and without adequate MLA documentation. Insights are predictable. Does not submit assignment or does not respond appropriately to assignment. 
1, 2                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 
Provides convincing and innovative connections between theory and language. Provides connections between theory and language that are obvious but nonetheless plausible and interesting. Connections remain vague and undeveloped. Critique not supported by close readings. Does not submit assignment or does not respond appropriately to assignment. 
Language and linguistic terminology applied skillfully throughout paper. Language and linguistic terminology used adequately throughout much of the paper. Rarely employs appropriate terminology, misuses it, or omits it altogether. Does not submit assignment or does not respond appropriately to assignment. 
Content of Communication                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   
Skillfully interweaves passages from critical texts and personal statements that illustrate main point of essay. Adequately incorporates some passages with some personal statements that help support thesis, though sometimes strays from main point. Rarely provides specific passages from critical texts or personal research for analysis, or does so without making connections clear. Does not submit assignment or does not respond appropriately to assignment. 
Technical Skill in Communicating                                                                                                                                                                                                                           
Employs conventions of Standard Written English with grace and style in a well organized, fully developed essay. Employs conventions of Standard Written English adequately in a reasonably well organized and developed essay. Writing shows persistent problems with the use of Standard Written English. Statements are often illogical, incomprehensible; organization and development of ideas do not support thesis. Does not submit assignment or does not respond appropriately to assignment. 
Identifies specific features of language characteristics                                                                                                                                                                                                   
Analysis fully and gracefully incorporates discussion of specific language features and functions. Analysis occasionally incorporates discussion of specific language features and functions. Does not incorporate specific language features and functions, or does so in ways that show little or no understanding of concepts . Does not submit assignment or does not respond appropriately to assignment. 
Applies linguistic theory to interpretation                                                                                                                                                                                                                
Gracefully incorporates linguistic theory, which helps to maintain a strong argument. Incorporates linguistic theory adequately in parts of the paper, though the argument is not particularly strong. Does not incorporate linguistic theory, or does so in ways that show little or no understanding of language analysis. Does not submit assignment or does not respond appropriately to assignment. 


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Last Updated:1/6/2010 12:50:20 PM