SDSU Hepner Hall

About the Department

Our Mission

Our linguistics programs seek to educate our students and the wider world about the nature, structure, and function of language, one of the most important defining properties of humankind. Because the study of language falls at the crossroads of several disciplines (psychology, social science, cognitive science, philosophy, literary and cultural studies, education, and computer science), linguistics is by nature interdisciplinary, and succeeds best when it integrates a variety of perspectives. Our aim is to provide students with a comprehensive education in linguistics, including an understanding of the diversity of languages throughout the world, including both standard and non-standard varieties, how language is structured, how it is learned, how it changes, and how it enables communication. The language programs in Asian and Middle Eastern languages (Arabic, Chinese, Filipino, Hebrew, Japanese, Korean, and Persian, in alphabetical order) complement the general study of language structure and use, providing students with linguistically-informed instruction that aims to produce communicatively competent users of these languages.

Our undergraduate major, minors and certificates in linguistics (including programs in Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL), computational linguistics and text analytics) prepare students to work in language-related fields in education or industry, and/or to pursue graduate work in linguistics. Our undergraduate major and minor in Japanese provide students with a solid foundation of practical language skills through proficiency-based teaching, as well as an understanding of cultural literacy through the study of Japanese literature, cultural traditions, and contemporary aesthetics; this prepares them for careers in the global age and for graduate study in a variety of fields. To our students pursuing Master’s degrees in Linguistics, whether specializing in applied or general linguistics, we provide a solid foundation in core areas of linguistics, and we guide them to develop advanced expertise in specific areas such as second-language pedagogical theory and practice, discourse and syntax, or computational linguistics, leading to relevant careers in government, education or industry, or to further graduate study at the doctoral level. Our multi-leveled English for Academic Purposes (EAP) composition program fulfills an important role in developing the academic literacy skills of international and multilingual students.

In keeping with its interdisciplinary nature, the department seeks to develop strong collaborative relationships with other departments across the college and university, as well as to nurture those that are already strong. One aim of these relationships is to foster synergistic program development and research collaboration, particularly in seeking shared extramural funding. Natural affinities with other disciplines include Anthropology, Sociology, Liberal Studies, Psychology, Management and Information Science, International Business, Statistics, Spanish and Portuguese, Speech Language and Hearing Sciences, Communication, and Computer Science. In addition, the department embraces the diversity of our university’s student body and is committed to educating our students and our community about intersections between race, socio-economic status, ethnicity, gender, and language.

Our Vision

The department aims to maintain and increase our multiple strengths in general, applied, and computational linguistics, and research-informed language instruction in English as a Second Language (ESL) and a variety of Asian and Middle Eastern languages. As the department continues research and instruction in areas of linguistics at the intersection of theory and practice and in multiple languages, we envisage the department as a center that provides language-related expertise to the College of Arts and Letters, the university, and the San Diego community at large. The department will continue to strengthen its interdisciplinary and inter-departmental links across the university by continuing to provide curriculum for other majors including English (for prospective high school English teachers), Liberal Studies (for prospective K-8 teachers), International Business, Management and Information Science, and Computer Science. Our connections with other units such as the Center for Islamic and Arabic Studies, Area of Excellence in Digital Humanities, Center for Asian and Pacific Studies will also enhance interdisciplinary research collaborations. In addition to developing new interdisciplinary programs in response to changing global needs, such as the proposed undergraduate interdisciplinary major in Language, Culture and Society developed in conjunction with the Department of Anthropology, we also aim to position ourselves as a hub for instruction in critical languages such as Arabic, Japanese, and Chinese. We foresee for ourselves an important role in building a cross-collegiate Center for Bilingualism Studies that would be founded on our dual strengths in language instruction and linguistics.