The bestselling first edition of Essential Linguistics presented the basic concepts of linguistics in everyday language and showed the connections between linguistic theory and classroom practice. David and Yvonne Freeman have made the second edition even more valuable. In a special blog for Heinemann, the authors tell us what’s changed since the first edition.
Why do teachers need to know about linguistics?
The second edition of Essential Linguistics: What Teachers Need to Know to Teach ESL, Reading, Spelling, and Grammar provides information about language that all teachers need to teach effectively. The Common Core State Standards call for every teacher to be a teacher of both content and language. They require that all students, including English learners, develop both content knowledge and the language needed to discuss, read, and write about various academic subjects.
The new standards do not call for teachers to teach traditional grammar or to become experts in linguistics. Instead, what teachers need is pedagogical language knowledge (Bunch, 2013). This is the knowledge required to teach the language of the different content areas. For example, when teaching math, the distinction between divided into and divided by is important, but many students might not notice this small difference. A teacher knowledgeable about pedagogical language would be aware of this distinction and others like it and plan activities to help students understand the difference. In the same way, a social studies teacher would plan lessons to help students deal with the language of primary source documents.
What aspects of linguistics does Essential Linguistics discuss?
The second edition begins by explaining how linguists approach language study. They take a scientific approach and describe various language systems: phonology, morphology, syntax. The next two chapters review first language acquisition and second and written language acquisition. Various methods for teaching a second language and for teaching reading are analyzed from a linguistic perspective. The remaining chapters focus on phonology, orthography, morphology, and syntax. Each chapter includes applications that help readers connect linguistic theory and classroom practice.
What sets Essential Linguistics apart from other linguistics texts is that the linguistic concepts are presented in very accessible language and are accompanied by classroom examples that illustrate key ideas. Our goal is to make linguistics comprehensible. In addition, there are chapters on the implications of phonology, morphology, and syntax for teaching ESL and for teaching reading. These chapters help teachers develop the familiarity with pedagogical language they need to apply basic insights from linguistics in their teaching. There are examples throughout the text showing teachers how they can apply pedagogical language in their classrooms. For example, understanding phonology, the sound system of language, can help teachers working with English learners whose home languages are different from English. Understanding syntax can help teachers design lessons to teach students how to write the complex sentences found in academic texts.
What is different about the second edition of Essential Linguistics?
One major change is that the discussion of phonology introduces readers to the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA). This is the standard system for transcribing sounds in any language. The Praxis exam required for ESL certification in many states uses the IPA. The explanation of linguistic concepts and terms presented in Essential Linguistics also helps teachers prepare for the Praxis and, more important, provides them with the pedagogical language knowledge they need to teach all their students effectively.
The new edition contains updated references and detailed explanations and analyses of current methods of second language teaching. There is also a description of the academic register of language, the register students need to read, write about, and discuss academic texts. The second edition also discusses signed language in addition to oral and written language. We hope that educators who have used the first edition will find the updates and additions useful and that readers new to the book will find that it meets their needs.