Aaron Kvale '15

1. Why was it important to you to include a linguistics-oriented IIM or a Linguistics minor as part of your studies while you were at Luther?

I took Introduction to Syntax as a means of satisfying my quantitative reasoning general education requirement without having to go anywhere near math and found it extremely interesting, compelling even. I took two other linguistics classes as electives simply because I wanted to learn more.  As I solidified my plans for a career in language education and took courses in both the education and modern languages departments, it was clear to me that my study of linguistics had unlocked doors to deeper understanding of not only how languages are learned, but of best pedagogical practice as well. Considering both my own interest in linguistics and the clear benefits my studies posed to both me as both a language learner and a language educator, pursuing a linguistics minor was a foregone conclusion when it became an option.

2. What sort of occupation or professional activity are you engaged in now?

I teach 8th-grade and high-school Spanish in rural Iowa.

3. In what ways has the knowledge you gained through studying linguistics contributed to how you engage with your current work and/or the world in general?

I am the Spanish teacher that I am more because of my linguistics minor than anything else. The world of education is full of instructional fads, and I am equipped to analyze their efficacy and pedagogical soundness for my content area because of the variety of linguistics topics that I had the opportunity to explore at Luther. My study of phonology and phonetics informs the way that I teach pronunciation, and I can guide students through exactly what they need to do with their oral articulators in order to produce sounds in the target language. I can analyze the learning outcomes of struggling students and identify specific syntactic, morphological, and phonological misconceptions that need to be addressed. I am able to provide students with not only an understanding of how grammar works in the target language, but why it works that way. I am equipped to provide students with insight into the workings of the their native language in a way new to them and to offer a window into the force of language in general in a way that will hopefully inspire them to continue their language studies beyond high school (or at the very least appreciate the beauty of the diversity of human language).

In my life outside of school, my study of linguistics has prepared me to more quickly and efficiently learn additional languages through strengthening my metacognitive abilities to analyze my own language learning. Beyond Spanish, I have been able to make significant strides in learning French, Norwegian, and Portuguese. My study of phonetics and phonology has helped me to be an effective dialect coach in my activities at my community theatre as well as my duties as a Speech coach at school.

More importantly than anything, my study of linguistics at Luther has filled me with a curiosity and appreciation for the diversity of human expression. I will forever be grateful to Professor Zaring for lighting the spark in my heart that has developed into a lifelong passion. I will never stop being a hobbyist linguist.