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My Applied Linguistics Degree (No, I don’t speak a bunch of languages)

As an Applied Linguistics undergraduate student, the question I get asked most frequently when explaining my degree is; “So, how many languages do you speak?”.  As I answer “Just one”, most people look at me with a puzzled expression. ‘How could I be completing a degree in linguistics if I only speak one language?’, they wonder.  Well not to worry, I am here to explain.

The term linguistics, refers to the scientific study of languages, which does not necessarily mean learning of languages themselves.  At Brock, there are three different directions can you peruse through an Applied Linguistics degree; Speech and Language Sciences, Teaching English as a Subsequent Language (TESL) and Hearing Sciences.  Many of the classes required in each stream overlap with the others, but they do differ in some areas.

As a fourth year Applied Linguistics student, in the Speech and Language Sciences stream, I have studied languages such as English, French, Hindi, Turkish, Warlpiri, and many more.  However, I can only speak English.  While studying these languages I didn’t learn how to communicate in them, rather I learned things such as; rules for creating sentences in the languages, how communication norms vary based on culture, sound variations and ways in which individuals can modify language to meet their needs.  Beyond looking at the variations between specific languages, I have also taken classes focusing on; communication disorders; bilingualism, multilingualism, and how learning a second language learning differs from learning your first language; acoustics of language; anatomy of the speech production system; and prevention, assessment and treatment of hearing disorders.

For individuals who love learning new languages, not to worry!  With electives (credits that can be taken from any faculty) and context credits (specific faculty credits) you will have multiple opportunities to enroll in the many language courses offered at Brock.

I hope this explanation has helped to show those of you (like me) who may not be gifted in learning languages,  that an Applied Linguistics degree may still be the degree for you!

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