Gwendolyn Neal ‘19

Studied at Luther: English and French majors, linguistics minor

1.  Why was it important to you to include a linguistics your studies while you were at Luther?

Linguistics as a discipline felt like discovering a deep, intricate, captivating cave system that traced and described the surface land I'd lived on all my life. Language is everywhere, but its systematic study is not, so getting into the discipline was getting my mind blown over and over again by these incredible observations and studies about phenomena I deal with every day but didn't have the language for.

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

I am working towards a master's in teaching secondary English with an endorsement in ELL education. In my teacher training I've gotten the opportunity to work in multilingual and monolingual high school classrooms in the Iowa City area.

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?

My linguistics classes helped me understand the psychological and social realities of ELL students and prompted me to do what I could in life to help them flourish. As a teacher of English to native English speakers, my linguistics training made me more alert to the varieties and registers of the language, the history which informs our lexicon and shapes its connotations, and the harmful linguistic ideology which English classrooms too often dispense.