Summer Session II

Course Syllabus
Linguistics for Teachers of English Language Learners
2 Credits

This course targets the following Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction’s Content Guidelines:

Language Competence: Teachers have a high degree of fluency in English, comprehend the linguistic and paralinguistic features of the English language, and recognize the processes through which languages are acquired in both formal and informal contexts.

Course Description

This course is designed to acquaint students from interdisciplinary fields with fundamental knowledge of general linguistics in order to teach English language learners in K-12 setting. It introduces the origins and nature of language, examines the language systems, and how meaning is structured. In particular, the course will focus on the core areas of linguistics and interdisciplinary aspects. The core linguistics will include phonetics (the study of speech sounds), phonology (the sound system of languages), morphology (the internal structure of words), syntax (the sentence structure), and semantics (the study of word and sentence meanings). The interdisciplinary areas will incorporate language and the brain, psycholinguistics (the study of language processing), and sociolinguistics (language in social contexts).

Course Objectives

The course will meet the following objectives:

Required Texts

  1. Freeman, D. E, & Freeman, Y. S. (2004). Essential Linguistics: What You Need to Know to Teach Reading, ESL, Spelling, Phonics, and Grammar. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
  2. Selected articles provided by the instructor online.

Useful Websites


Course evaluation will be based on the sum of points collected by accomplishing the following assignments:
  1. Participation and Effort — 100 points
  2. Examination — 200 points
  3. Paper — 300 points
  4. So What? — 200 points
For graduate credits students are also responsible for the following assignment:

  1. Position Paper — 300 points

The following grading scale will apply:

A = 90-100%; B = 80-89%; C = 70-79%; D = 60-69%; F = 59% and below.


Each assignment will be written in APA or MLA format. They must be double-spaced using Times New Roman 12-point font-size and have 1-inch margins on all sides.

Due dates

Each assignment must be submitted no later than 14 days after the last day of class.

Description of Course Requirements

1. Participation and Effort — 100 points

Students are required to come to class and participate actively in discussions. To be successful in this course, it is essential that students complete their reading assignments in advance because a significant amount of the time will be spent in class and group discussions analyzing the presented ideas in our textbook and relating them to processes of teaching English learners. It is expected from students to share their ideas and experiences in this course.

2. Examination — 200 points

The quizzes have the purpose of determining that students understood the key concepts of the linguistics course and/or assigned readings. They also inform the instructor that students mastered the presented material allowing for intervention in the course of the semester. Quizzes also give an opportunity for students to apply related linguistic concepts to classroom usage.

3. Paper — 300 points

Teaching grammar explicitly for English learners is a controversial topic in the teacher education literature today. While a number of researchers argue for a natural approach in second, third, or fourth language teaching, others believe that explicit grammar instruction has an important role in the education of English language learners. In a 5-7 page paper, students will investigate the literature on perspectives of grammar teaching in ELL education.

4. So What? — 200 points

This course introduces the origins and nature of language, examines language systems and how meaning is structured. This information is only useful for future teachers of ELLs if they are able to apply the information in classroom practice. Students will demonstrate their understanding of linguistics by creating a lesson plan focusing on the development and use of a specific language system.
  1. Students will then provide a rationale for the lesson by:
    • Stating purpose/aim of the lesson plan
    • Stating objectives of the lesson plan
    • Identifying the structure/feature of the lesson
    • Describing why they chose the features, and not others, for the lesson.
  2. Lastly, students will peer teach a class. Classmates will evaluate the peer teaching through written and oral comments on any aspect of the teaching. Considerations will include strengths and weaknesses of the materials, activities, teacher and learner roles, class management, and appropriateness of context in which the lesson is used.

Graduate Credits

Students taking this class for graduate credits are required to submit the following assignment:

5. Position Paper —300 points

This assignment is a continuation of the paper presented under point 3. While in that paper students describe perspectives taken by researchers in regard to teaching grammar for ELLs, in this paper students will take a position in the role of grammar instruction.

Tentative Course Outline

For brevity, textbook titles will be abbreviated as follows: Freeman & Freeman (FF). See required texts.

  Topic Readings
Unit 1.
  • First language acquisition
  • Knowing grammar for what it is
  • The question of grammar
  • FF - p. 1-23.
Unit 2.
  • Written and second language acquisition
  • Grammar as “poison or fishing”
  • FF - p. 23-49.
Unit 3.
  • English phonology and its implication for teaching reading and teaching English as a second language
  • Knowing and doing; teaching grammar
  • FF - p. 49-98.
Unit 4.
  • English orthography
  • Using native and nonnative texts to promote grammatical awareness
  • FF - p. 98-130.
Unit 5.
  • A linguistic perspective on phonics
  • “Should I give the rule or get on with the lesson?”
  • FF - p. 130-166.
Unit 6.
  • English morphology and its implication for teaching reading and teaching English as a second language
  • Grammatical problem solving
  • FF - p. 166-216.
Unit 7.
  • English syntax
  • Experience is the best teacher
  • FF - p. 216-251.
Unit 8.
  • Systems of meaning (Semantics & Pragmatics)
  • Sociolinguistics
  • Selected Articles
Unit 9.
  • Psycholinguistics
  • Presentations
  • Selected Articles
Unit 10.
  • Presentations
  • Test


While collaboration rather than competition is encouraged, students are expected to approach each assignment with academic integrity. All sources must be carefully documented and credited to their authors. Plagiarized work will result in an “F” grade.


The UW-Platteville’s Civility statement espouses respect and courtesy to all people regardless of differences in race, gender, and color. One of the underlying goals of this course is to establish a community of learners who feel comfortable and free to share their ideas, opinions, beliefs, and experiences as well as what they know or do not know; while respecting other people’s beliefs and opinions. Students are expected to show the same respect and courtesy they expect others to extend to them. The participation grade will reflect on the effort to establish a friendly community of learners.

Special Notice

“Any student who may need an accommodation due to a disability, please make an appointment to see me during my office hours. A VISA from Services for Students with Disabilities authorizing your accommodations will be needed.”
(Office of Students with Disabilities, 2005)