Analyzing Language

Language Analysis for Lesson Planning, a class taught in the target language (in my case English), prepares teachers who can analyze the language’s basic concepts and patterns. In a classroom, this enables the teacher to explore rich, deep, and meaningful possibilities for student learning.

As with all MAT courses, this one addresses not just knowledge, but skills, attitude, and awareness.



  1. Phonology (the function of sounds in a language)
  2. Lexicon (words, vocabulary)
  3. Morphology (the structure and content of words; grammar)
  4. Syntax (the rules of sentence structure; grammar)

Skills: planning effective lessons in each knowledge area

Attitude: increasing teacher confidence in linguistic analysis

Awareness: choosing and adapting resources and materials appropriately


Friday’s lesson focused on the teaching of vocabulary and was, as usual, entertaining and easy to participate in. We played word games adaptable to beginning or advanced learners, adults or children. In pairs, we used the lesson’s focus in many ways, resulting in practiced and deeper understanding. What’s more, the games were designed for everyone’s success, regardless of first language, be it Korean, Japanese, Spanish, Chinese, Tagalog, Basa Samawa, or English.


Melissa, a teacher of Navajo youth, and Mohamed, a teacher of Egyptian youth, discuss word order.

A very cool dimension of the class is that it is comprised of people from all over the world. About half of us learned English as our first language and half learned it in addition to their first. There are students who are familiar with how the language is used and others (usually not the same!) who are familiar with the language’s morphosyntax (grammar, as above).


Nan, a teacher of Thai children, notes her assembled sentence.

One game called for the reconstruction of sentences using selected words printed on small cards. We had to ask ourselves and our partners, “What is the proper order of these words?”


Elisabeth, a teacher of Tibetan adults and children, is putting together a long sentence.

I look forward to each class because I know that textbook concepts, teaching methods and tone, and learning activities will all be synchronized for my learning. The professor models how the content can be taught. Whether we’re studying consonants, intonation, or work compounding, I cross the classroom’s threshold each time confident that

  • my experience will be valued and used
  • I will talk with interesting and accomplished people
  • I will have fun
  • I will have learned



Avery, P. and Ehrlich, S. Teaching American English Pronunciation. New York: Oxford University Press, 1992.

Celce-Murcia, M., and Larsen-Freeman, D. The Grammar Book: An ESL/EFL Teacher’s Guide, 2d ed. Boston: Heinle & Heinle, 1999.


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