Teaching Phonology: The State of the Art

A 27mfm fringe workshop in Manchester, 22 May 2019


A workshop on "Teaching Phonology: The State of the Art" will be held at the University of Manchester on Wednesday, May 22, 2019 as a satellite event to the 27th Manchester Phonology Meeting.

This workshop is intended to allow us to exchange ideas about what we do when we teach phonology, what we teach and how we might tackle particular topics and issues. We are interested in submissions that explore what, how, and/or why phonology is taught across varied institutions and contexts. With diverse views among researchers about the remit and basic assumptions of phonology, against the backdrop of shifting winds in higher education, how has the teaching of phonology evolved from how we ourselves were taught at varying times in the past? What core topics are selected for introductory courses - and what is left out - and how are this foundation built on in more advanced courses? What types of assignments are given? Do you use a textbook? If so, which one? With bimodal grade distributions being anecdotally common, how can difficult topics be explained in more accessible ways? What other novel teaching methods can be used?

Practical Details

This is a very informal meeting and there will be no registration fee.

Venue: Samuel Alexander Building A101, University of Manchester Oxford Road Campus

Samuel Alexander is Building 67 on the campus map. Coming from the city centre, turn right into campus on a walkway (labelled on Google Maps as Lime Grove) between the Alan Gilbert Learning Commons and the Student Union. If you see KRO Bar across the street, you are in the right place. Samuel Alexander will be the large building on your left; there are stairs up to the obvious main entrance. Walk straight ahead through the foyer, go one floor up via the left-hand staircase, and make your way around to room A101 at the end of the corridor.

For step-free access, go around to the south (newer) side of the building and enter through the automatic glass doors. To the left of the lifts is a glass corridor. Go through this glass corridor, through the doors on the left, and immediately turn right into the older part of the building. Follow the corridor around to the left, and you will emerge into the North Foyer. A small lift in a vestibule off the foyer will take you up one floor to A101.


Download the abstract booklet here.

1:30 Arrivals

1:50 Welcome

Intro Phonology: What & how?

2:00 Cathy Bartram (SIL International) Making Phonology Relevant

2:20 Charles Reiss & Veno Volenec (Concordia University): Functions, quantifiers and power sets in linguistics - why should semanticists have all the fun?

2:40 DISCUSSION led by Laura Downing (University of Gothenburg & LSA 2019 Summer Institute): When Phonology I is not followed by Phonology II

Please come prepared to discuss: Is there a consensus about what the key phenomena in phonology are? What is the best way to teach argumentation and problem solving? Which theoretical frameworks should we teach? How can we give students a perspective on the field that goes beyond the theories and methods that are important right now?

Phonology in language and philology degrees

3:00 Eulàlia Bonet (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona) & Clàudia Pons-Moll (Universitat de Barcelona): From data to theory in descriptive courses

3:20 Zsuzsanna Barkanyi (The Open University & Hungarian Academy of Sciences, RIL): Phonology in BA Languages (Spanish) degrees

3:35-4:00 Break & Syllabus swap

The most convenient source of refreshments is the cafe at the Alan Gilbert Learning Commons, the modern largely-glass building out the main entrance of Samuel Alexander and to the right.

All workshop attendees are asked to come with 5-10 paper copies of syllabi you use on your phonology courses (any level). During this break from the formal program - either in the workshop room, at the cafe, or anywhere in between - participants are encouraged to compare, discuss, and exchange syllabi, as an opportunity to see more widely how colleagues are teaching phonology at diverse institutions.

An electronic archive of some of the syllabi shared can be found here.

Pedagogical techniques

4:00 Sam Hellmuth (University of York): Creativity and innovation in teaching phonetics and phonology

4:20 Taylor Miller & Jean Ann (SUNY Oswego): Teaching phonology through comedy

4:40 DISCUSSION introduced by Malgorzata Cavar (Indiana University): Conceptualizing and contextualizing phonological terminology in teaching undergraduates

How do we make the abstract ideas of phonology more concrete for our students? From the beginning of our field, phonologists have used metaphor as a teaching tool, from Saussure (1915) describing the signifier as a chess piece, to Halle (1958) describing the derivation as “the program of a computing machine.” What metaphors have you used in your teaching, and how successful were they? Is the phoneme like a family, or like superman? Is OT like a dating service, or a used car lot? Please come prepared to share the metaphors that have (and haven’t) worked for you!

New approaches

5:00 Christina Bjorndahl (Carnegie Mellon University) & Mark Gibson (Universidad de Navarra, Pamplona): Laboratory phonology in the classroom

5:20 Jonathan Howell & Catherine Baird (Montclair State University): Information literacy in the phonology classroom

5:40 General discussion

6:00 Closing remarks


The workshop is being organised by Yuni Kim (Essex), Patrick Honeybone (Edinburgh), and Elizabeth Zsiga (Georgetown).