Why I Choose to Study Linguistics
Two years ago, I didn’t even know what linguistics is. But now, I would say opting to study English Language and Linguistics in Warwick is probably one of the wisest decisions I’ve made: I’m enjoying my studies more than I’ve ever been, and I do my readings not because I have to, but because I’m finding it interesting and eager to know more. What’s better than having your study motivation driven by your passion in the subject! I really hope more people could know how fascinating linguistics is. Therefore, in the following two blogs, I will be sharing on why I chose to study linguistics in Warwick in the first place, and what is it like after I pursue my linguistics studies in Warwick. I will start off with this blog focusing on the reason I chose to study English Language and Linguistics (ELL).
Do we learn languages in linguistics? I know you’d be asking that, I get all my friends and relatives asking me that, and the answer is no. Although most linguists are interested in languages and many of them might know quite a few ones, you don’t necessarily have to know many languages in order to study linguistics. Quoting from my lecturer, it’s like you can know how planes work without being able to control a plane; an aircraft engineer is simply different from a pilot. If you go on googling about “linguistics”, the most common expression you’d see is probably “linguistics is the scientific study of language”. I know that may sound abstract, but that can’t be truer. In linguistics, we learn systematically about how languages work and the underlying principles of different languages across the globe; for example, how the building blocks of languages are put together and how they function in their units. You can think of the way we study linguistics similar to the way we study STEM subjects, but our learning subject is language instead of science.
This is in fact why linguistics perfect for me (and probably for you too!). I used to study STEM subjects in secondary school. I noticed I tend to enjoy the technical and systematic way we study it, like learning all the technical terms and the rationale of how things work, and then applying the principles and putting them into practice. However, I was barely fascinated by the materials, and I don’t see myself wanting to thrive for scientific knowledge.
On the contrary, I am always interested in languages. With English being my second language, English Language has often been a crucial subject in school. But unlike many other students, I never got bored at studying it; instead, I’m always curious, wanting to know more about the language, for example, its grammatical structure, how a kid could learn English more effectively, how we could manipulate the use of English to increase our persuasiveness, etc. Therefore, linguistics is like the perfect match for me — studying something I’m passionate about in the way I feel comfortable with. If you’ve ever been in a similar situation as I did, or if you feel like you like English but not sure about English literature, you might try considering linguistics!
In Warwick, the Center for Applied Linguistics (CAL) offers three courses: English Language and Linguistics; Language, Culture, Communication; Linguistics with a Modern Language.
When I was deciding on the degree, what ELL stands out the most is that the course does not require the learning of a foreign language, while the other two does. I’m not saying that learning a foreign language is not good (it could be beneficial and might be good for those who always want to learn more languages!). But to me, I’m more interested in English Language in particular, I would rather spend my degree learning more about English Language in depth and it would be more useful for me if I go on teaching English as a foreign language.
A very genuine advice I would like to offer is to really choose a degree that you are interested in. After all, your passion is what keeps you going when you have a bunch of readings and deadlines to fight through.