Course Goal: This course is limited to Graduate students who are currently serving as Teaching Assistants. The goal of the course is to help you survive your first semester as a TA, and secondarily to prepare you for a lifetime of teaching Linguistics.
Grading: A simple test will be administered at the last class session. Each student will be asked a single question, and all those who answer calmly will receive an “A” grade. Questions will be of the form What are “phonemes” and what do I need to know about them for the test?
Instructor: Jennifer Oliviera, ABD, Linguistics Department Head TA. (Veteran of 17 Ling 101 classes in our department.)
Time and place: Class sessions will be held on Fridays from 8-11 pm, at various locations near campus. Call the instructor’s cell phone (number provided separately) for the location each week.
Office hours: By appointment. Note that I am typically in my office (Room 4, basement level 2; take the stairs down from behind the departmental custodial closet) Monday through Friday, 8 am to 7:30 pm.
Class Session 1: Dealing with Psychology and Education majors.
Class Session 2: How to explain the phoneme.
Class Session 3: How to answer questions about careers in linguistics (no, we don’t know either).
Class Session 4: How to explain the phoneme again.
Class Session 5: Artificial Intelligence
— explaining why linguistics has made no contribution to this field.
Class Session 6: Descriptive vs. Prescriptive
— why writing ability matters anyway.
Class Session 7: Language Change
— how to explain that language change is not degeneration, and what to do when the only three students who care won’t believe you.
Class Session 8: Flirting with undergrads
— a free, open, and honest discussion about the pros and cons of flirting with or even dating undergrads is your class; anyone who can freely, openly, and honestly think of any pros will be assigned a sixteen- hour language lab project transcribing all of former First Lady Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say No” speeches in excruciating detail.
Class Session 9: Sociolinguistics
— explaining why linguists are the only people in the entire world thickheaded enough to believe that any dialect is just as good as any other one.
Class Session 10: Grading
— creating quizzes, prelims, and final exams that you can grade quickly and “fairly” on a Sunday night, despite getting progressively more tipsy on cheap beer or wine.
Class Session 11: Fluff lectures
— a discussion of topics — like animal communication, language games, in-class surveys of sociolinguistic features of students, and the applications of syntax in the real world — on which you can lecture without any preparation and despite being hungover from excessive “grading”.
Class Session 12: Another way to explain the phoneme.
Class Session 13: Educational technology
— the benefits for linguistics. (Note: Class is typically cancelled on this day.)
Class Session 14: Advanced grading
— using spreadsheets to find the optimal weighting of homework, papers, quizzes, exams, and class participation so that the obnoxious engineering student who is obviously slumming gets no better than a C- , and the enthusiastic proto- linguist who always sits in the front of the class gets an A++.
Class session 15: Explaining how to pass the final without understanding what a phoneme is.
Class session 16: Final exam (see above).
Available extra lab credits:
Advanced sociolinguistic descriptivism