Language is the most fundamental human capacity. As such, studying language is one avenue to studying the workings of the human mind. Linguists are interested in language for its own sake, as well as in what the study of language can tell us about the mind, and in how an understanding of the true nature of language can inform practical issues such as language teaching, the treatment of language disorders, and language policy.
You might be interested in Linguistics if:
- You like to learn foreign languages, and enjoy the challenge of mastering speech sounds and grammatical rules that are different from those in English
- You've been fascinated by how a child acquires his or her first language, or by the difficulties an adult faces in learning a second language
- You find yourself trying to guess where someone is from by how they speak
- You're curious about the origins and development of the English language - the history of words, and the changes in grammar and pronunciation over time
- You like puzzles and word games - perhaps the biggest puzzle of all is discovering the rules that constitute a speaker's knowledge of a language!
- You have an interest in issues relating to language use in society, such as multilingualism, non-standard dialects, pidgin and creole languages, bilingual education or literacy
- You're considering a career in a language-related field, such as Speech-Language Disorders, Early Childhood Education, Language Teaching, Translation, Communications, or Communication Technology
- You’re planning to live and work in a country where a Pidgin or Creole language is spoken
What can I do with a degree in Linguistics?
A degree in Linguistics prepares students for career opportunities in a wide range of fields. Here are a few examples of jobs that graduates with Linguistics degrees may pursue:
- Teaching a foreign language, or teaching English as a second language
- Working in the computer industry - designing search engines, user interfaces or speech recognition systems
- Working in the publishing industry, as an editor, journalist or technical writer
- Working in the education field - as a teacher, or in the development of educational materials
- Teaching at the college level (with a graduate degree)
- Working for a company that develops product names
- Working as an interpreter or translator
- Developing dictionaries (lexicography)
- Working in a language research laboratory
- Working for a U.S. government agency
Some language-related jobs require an advanced degree. An undergraduate major in Linguistics prepares students for graduate study in Linguistics, in fields such as TESOL, Speech and Language Therapy, Cognitive Science, Psychology, Anthropology, Philosophy, International Relations, Ethnic Studies, Computer Science or a Foreign Language, or in professional programs such as Law, Journalism, and Library & Information Science.
More generally, the study of Linguistics provides students with training in analytical thinking and problem solving, argumentation, and written and oral communication - skills that are highly sought after by employers in fields including Business, International Business, Law and many others.