Linguists get to do all kinds of cool activities, like teaching others how to speak a language, researching how the brain processes different sounds and programming computers to understand and recognize speech. Since there are so many different kinds of linguists, the only thing constant in each linguist’s average day is that it is always different and involves a host of fun challenges.
Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages sounds pretty forthright -- right? Well, it’s anything but. TESOL teachers spend years getting graduate degrees or certificates, and on an average day a TESOL teacher might plan lessons for their new students from Asia, or she may travel to Africa to teach children in Guinea the basics of English. The average day depends on the job, the location and the linguist herself; what does remain constant is that the teacher needs to be involved, will most likely constantly be planning new and fun ways to learn English and will have a host of job opportunities.
A computational linguist uses computer science and programming to develop language software. A computational linguist may find herself writing code so that map apps can understand spoken directions; on another day, she could configure software that converts spoken language to text or text to speech. No matter what the day, this type of linguist has to rely on a solid background of math, physics and computer science superhero status to propel her in her career.
The anthropological linguist takes linguistics out into the world and collects data from live and nearly-dead languages. Average days vary widely due to the transient nature of this type of linguist’s research, but recording language, describing syntax and helping native speakers revive or continue to teach their language may be part of the day. This type of linguist sees herself as a recorder and caretaker of language and works tirelessly to ensure that no language dies out.
For a linguistic professor, the only constant is that she will have to interact with students and faculty and she will most likely have to grade papers. Most linguistic professors teach classes that vary from introductory linguistic overviews to specific graduate seminars on morphology or syntactics, and some teach classes on other languages, such as Klingon, Chinese or Elvish. Some days, the professor may find herself entrenched in research, writing articles to submit to academic journals or sitting on committee meetings.
Based in the Pacific Northwest, Arin Bodden started writing professionally in 2003. Her writing has been featured in "Northwest Boulevard" and "Mermaids." She received the Huston Medal in English in 2005. Bodden has a Master of Arts in English from Eastern Washington University. She currently teaches English composition and technical writing at the university level.