The MA in Linguistics and the MA in ESL offer students broad training in all core areas of the discipline. Our MA programs prepare students for challenging careers in a variety of industries, including government, education, law, bioinformatics, and natural language processing. The MA in ESL specifically prepares students for careers in teaching English as a second and/or foreign language and language arts instruction for K-12 (with additional certification and coursework from the College of Education). Our MA programs also serve as an excellent foundation for doctoral studies in Linguistics and other language-related fields such as speech pathology, deaf education, audiology, or the teaching of English as a second language.
The five major foci of graduate studies in Linguistics are:
Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL)
Of general interest to many of our students, but of special interest to those interested in Teaching English as a Second Language, are courses on second language acquisition; pedagogical approaches to English grammar; methods and practicum in teaching English as a second or additional language; and English language variation and change, including varieties of English spoken worldwide. Our practicum in ESL is often available at an international venue. We also offer a Graduate Academic Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages.
Language Documentation, Curation, and Conservation
The world’s languages, approximately 7000 of them, are disappearing at an alarming rate. Each language encodes unique knowledge about the ecologies – both animals and plants – of the societies that are centered on the languages spoken. To preserve and employ this data to further our understanding of this essential part of what it means to be human, linguists and interested members of language communities work together to collect and analyze linguistic data, and to preserve it in archives for use in the future. We offer courses on scientifically sound and ethically appropriate data collection methodologies, gold standard archiving practices, and methods for data mining. All these lead to research projects on non Indo-European languages and provide students with extraordinary opportunities to learn about new cultures and customs.
The newest focus of the UNT Linguistics Department’s graduate offerings is computational linguistics (CL). CL technologies are increasingly present in daily life, from voice-enabled smart phone assistants to predictive text input to machine translation technologies. From an academic viewpoint, CL is the scientific study of language from a computational perspective, living at the intersection of language and technology. Students develop keen skills in linguistics and linguistic analysis. This knowledge can then be applied to the design of computational systems for automating linguistic analysis. At UNT we place a particular focus on how computational methods can support the work of documenting endangered languages, linking two of our department’s strengths.
Language Variation and Change
Languages can vary in just about every aspect of their grammar. Compare for example American English and Australian English, which differ in accent, words used to refer to the same objects, and also in some sentence patterns. To understand language as a human system we ask how languages vary, the limits to the ways in which they may vary, and what causes them to vary. We offer courses on theoretical frameworks dealing with these questions and these data. We also offer courses on the many varieties of English in America, the structure of African American English Vernacular, the structure and history of the Englishes around the world, and on principles of language change, reconstruction, and change through language contact.
Linguistic Analysis of Literature
UNT is one of the few linguistics programs in the country to offer regular courses in the linguistic analysis of poetry and prose. The courses focus on the many kinds of repetition that are used by the world’s great writers – repetitions of sound, parallelisms of form – which have the effect of making literary texts a permanent part of the world’s art.
A sixth area we are developing in conjunction with the Department of Library Sciences is Language Data Curation and Archiving. In this area of study, students will gain important competencies in the concepts, practices, and technologies used for managing linguistic data, e.g., data modeling and database design, representing information for storage and access, digital curation and data management, and information systems.