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5 things you should know about studying linguistics

By Paige Lyman• Last updated: Nov 8, 2023
5 things you should know about studying linguistics
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When it comes to studying linguistics, there is quite a lot to know! From just how broad the field of linguistics can really be to more specifically what kind of jobs you can apply a linguistics degree to, there's a lot of information to digest. Whether you are considering studying linguistics or you've already started, having a short list of information on hand can be useful.

With that in mind, we've pulled together 5 interesting things you should know about studying linguistics. From improving your communication skills to different graduate study programs you might consider, this list is all about what you should know about studying linguistics.

1. Linguistics is a science

The definition of linguistics tells us exactly what it is: “the science of language, including phonetics, phonology, morphology” and more. Plenty of different topics fall under linguistics, including how language impacts the way we communicate and interact with each other, the structure of languages, and the variations between languages. If you’re studying linguistics, you’re studying a scientific field that covers all things language-related.

Linguists do a range of things. They look into how people obtain their understanding of language, how language might vary across people and different physical locations, and how different linguistic patterns might appear. Linguists may develop and test different hypotheses, keep statistics as they do their work, and even undertake their own fieldwork. 

So when you’re studying linguistics, you’re learning to become a scientist who applies “the scientific method to questions about the nature and function of language.” The field of linguistics is broad, just as any scientific field is, and has plenty of unique areas for you to delve into.

2. You’ll improve your communication skills

One massive benefit to studying linguistics is the overall improvement you’ll see in your own communication skills. Linguistics is the scientific study of language, including things such as syntax, semantics, pragmatics, and phonology. 

By studying linguistics, you’ll be improving on your own everyday communication skills while you’re learning about the finer points of language and how language is used.

From talking to friends and family through texts and DMs, academic papers you turn into professors, to chatting outside your apartment for five minutes with your neighbor, how often we use language in our everyday life is pretty clear. We use it all the time! So when you study linguistics, you’ll undoubtedly start to see the intricacies of language that you’re learning about in your everyday life. 

If you are writing or speaking in any kind of public forum where communication is key, or even if you just need to write up a quick speech to deliver to friends, studying linguistics will help take you to that next level of communication. 

3. You’ll study a variety of things

As with many academic subjects, linguistics can be very broad. You’ll study a number of areas that all tie back to language. These areas can include words, sounds, meanings, and how language has changed and evolved over time. 

Depending on the university, the linguistics program you’re a part of might have a specific area of focus or offer different classes and learning opportunities. For example, the University of Huddersfield offers a Linguistics BA (Hons) course where students will have the opportunity to take part in a five week placement in the ‘Language in the Workplace’ module that allows them to see how language operates in a working environment. 

4. Different jobs you can apply a linguistics degree to

When it comes to any field, narrowing down the different kinds of jobs you might be able to apply to after you have graduated can often be pretty daunting! There will be obvious job choices, but some that may not come directly to mind. Some jobs that you can consider when studying linguistics include:

  • Teaching English as a second language
  • Teaching at the university level
  • Translator or interpreter
  • Within the linguistics field in areas like research, language processing, artificial intelligence, and more
  • Publishing industry
  • Journalism
  • Consultant on languages
  • Advertisement/marketing companies
  • Speech or language therapist
  • Proofreader

Some of these, such as teaching or working as a translator, might be jobs that you might think of immediately. But others, like working in journalism or as a consultant on languages, may be jobs that you wouldn’t immediately think of when you’re studying linguistics. 

Linguistics can be applied to many different professions, especially in areas where language and communication play a massive factor. If there are specific areas of the professional world that you think linguistics might not apply to, take the time to consider just how your degree may be relevant in that space.

5. Graduate studies and professional programs

When you study linguistics, you’re going to be learning skills that can allow you to pursue a variety of graduate studies or professional programs afterwards. Potential graduate and professional programs can include but certainly aren’t limited to: 

  • Linguistics
  • Psychology
  • Communication sciences
  • English
  • Law school
  • Library or information science
  • Speech pathology
  • Education
  • Anthropology
  • Audiology
  • TESOL programs (Teaching English as a second language)

If you’re interested in pursuing further education through a professional or graduate program, the skills and knowledge you’ll obtain while studying linguistics can be useful in a number of different fields. Depending on what you’d like to study further or pursue career-wise, there’s a variety of programs out there for students to consider.

You can explore linguistics courses here.

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Paige Lyman is a freelance writer and journalist who writes in the pop-culture space.

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