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Meet Ryan!

To celebrate our Spring 2020 linguistics graduates, we are featuring their story on our webpage. We hope you enjoy learning about our amazing soon-to-be alumni!

We asked Ryan a few questions. Here are his responses:

The bust of a young student with glasses standing in front of a wall

Where are you from, how long have you been in college, how long have you been at Boise State?

I am originally from Twin Falls, Idaho and this is the end of my fourth year in college. I’ve only been at BSU for two years now and I used to go to CSI in Twin Falls.

What made you decide to study linguistics?

I decided to study linguistics in my Junior year of college after deciding that Computer Science wasn’t the right path for me. What got me interested in the field was a youtuber that originally went to Japan to teach English and then got popular on youtube later. I decided that that would be a fun goal to work towards and so I looked into English degrees and eventually decided on linguistics. Also, I’ve been studying Japanese on my own for quite a while so I was interested in second language acquisition, which is another reason why I chose linguistics above some other emphasis.

What has been your favorite part about studying linguistics?

My favorite part has been learning about second language acquisition and actually getting to apply some of those concepts in my work during the capstone course.

What has been your least favorite part about studying linguistics?

I found that I really didn’t enjoy certain topics of linguistics such as sociolinguistics and because of that I needed to drop some classes and try and figure out how to fill out my requirements.

What surprised you about your major?

I think I am still surprised at how the field I am mainly interested in doesn’t really have a specific idea of what people should do. There are at least 10 different still relevant theories to second language acquisition and multiple different teaching styles/philosophies that a person could follow, but never find that one is the ultimate answer to the field. Very much unlike a field in math where there is really only one way – maybe with certain variations to the process – to find a correct answer, but when it comes to learning/teaching languages a person can only decide which train of thought seems most correct to them and stick with it.

What have you learned about yourself through your college experience?

I have found that the main developments to my personality/mentality over my college years have come as a result of being in college, but not necessarily because of what I was learning. College is a very interesting time in life where a person finally gets to decide pretty much every part of how they want to live, so I have found that I continued to learn and develop because of the situation that I was in.

Which was your favorite class?

Probably either my capstone class or the TESOL course that I took over the summer.

What do you plan to do after graduation? 

Probably just get a part time job until I figure out what I want to do.

What advice do you have for linguistics students?

I’d say, “Don’t force yourself to do any courses/assignments that you really don’t want to do,” but I suppose that isn’t the best advice haha.

What is your favorite memory from college/from linguistics?

Working with the IEP students as a part of my TESOL course or learning to apply theories of second language acquisition to my own language learning.

What has it been like working in the Ling Lab? What have you learned?

Working in the ling lab has been a very fun and rewarding experience for me. I’d like to believe that a lot of the work that we do could be roughly translated to a secretary’s job, so I think that I have learned roughly what it would be like to work in any sort of situation like that. I think the most I learned was through working with the social media project since I still have never created a social media account myself.

How has linguistics changed the way you interact with others, if at all?

I think the most noticeable difference is my ability to discuss fundamental topics related to the field. It’s surprisingly really applicable in day to day conversations to be able to describe the different sounds that we make and do really surface level explanations for why we tend to speak certain ways (especially dialects). Also, I have found that I can have very in depth conversations relating to second language acquisition and have debated with one of my friends repeatedly over the concept of a person reaching perfect native fluency in a second language and whether that is possible or not.

If you could have any career in linguistics (as out of the box as you want) what would it be?

Well, realistically I believe that I would be most interested in a field where second language acquisition research or application is the focus. I have thought about travelling abroad to teach English, but haven’t gotten the courage to follow through with it yet. Otherwise, I have recently been interested in computational linguistics and its application towards language learning/translation.

What if a favorite linguistics “fact”/pop linguistics related thing/thing you’ve learned in linguistics?

I think that I most enjoy very specific rules that govern different dialects such as eastern American accents pretty much never pronouncing the ‘r’ in their speech, or the minnesota accent not pronouncing the ‘o’ as a diphthong and instead keeping it a pure ‘o’.