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Outreach Roadshow Hits Portland

Why do language science outreach? Many people take language for granted because they are able to learn it and use it so easily, so it’s our job to show them what makes it so cool and worth studying!

We’ve been doing outreach for a while at the University of Maryland, focusing on engagement with local high schools through two-way visit, partnering with linguistics clubs, and sponsoring internships for high school students. We’re certainly not the only language scientists doing outreach, though. And each group does it differently.

On January 9th, members of the outreach group at the Maryland Language Science Center teamed up with other language science outreach enthusiasts from across the country to spread the word about language science outreach at the annual meeting of the Linguistic Society of America in Portland, Oregon.

The day began with a workshop titled “Linguistics for Everyone: Tools and Tips for Do-It-Yourself-ers” featuring representatives from The Ohio State University, University of Arizona, University of Massachusetts Amherst, University of Maryland, and the National Science Foundation. This panel focused on exchanging ideas about different types of outreach for different contexts and pooling outreach resources developed by the panelists.

Following the panel discussion, groups led hands-on demos of their outreach activities, so attendees could experience the activities first-hand, and discuss how to adapt the activities to other locales. The Ohio State group has a program of combined research, training, and outreach via their Language Pod in the local science museum. The Arizona team reach thousands of people via science fairs and community festivals. And the Maryland group reaches young students through school programs and via Maryland Day, and reaches a worldwide audience via its new Langscape web portal.   

For more information on outreach activities, how to identify things that take advantage of your unique local setting, and how to engage with partners, visit our Language Science for Everyone pages.

This workshop was the second Language Science for Everyone event. See our article about presentations at the Boston University Conference on Language Development (BUCLD) in November 2014. The group will be presenting again at Family Science Days at the AAAS conference in San Jose in February 2015.

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