About Linguistics

Linguistics, the science of language, is an interdisciplinary field which relates to the diversity of the cultures and languages of the world. It is an integral part of most serious pursuits dealing with aspects of language study and/or analysis. As the boundaries of the world change, an understanding of individual languages and cultures becomes increasingly more important. Communication in this complex society requires knowledge of the workings of languages as well as their interrelationship with their respective cultures. All linguistics majors are expected to acquire a rudimentary knowledge of the functions of language at various levels and knowledge of the techniques/methods used in language analysis. A student of linguistics will thereby significantly advance their appreciation of linguistic and cultural diversity.

Mission Statement

Our mission is to pursue the scientific investigation of language as a human phenomenon in its historical, psychological, and social dimensions, through effective and innovative teaching and high-quality faculty and student research covering the major subareas within the discipline of linguistics. 

We share a commitment to recognizing, valuing, and teaching about linguistic diversity, critically evaluating our own and society’s claims about language and language users. 

Our classes engage in critical inquiry and best research practices, thereby providing students with the necessary tools and experiences to follow their intellectual curiosity, to analyze linguistic data and clearly communicate their findings, to work across disciplines, to effectively contribute to evolving societal needs, and to become informed participants and leaders in public discourse about language and its role in our world, both locally and globally. 

Assessment Plan

Linguistics Department Student Learning Outcomes

Students graduating with a major in Linguistics are expected to:

  1. Demonstrate foundational knowledge of language as a biological system: phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, and pragmatics.
  2. Demonstrate an understanding of the social factors that shape language use and the dynamic nature of human language.
  3. Identify and precisely describe patterns found in language data and construct well-reasoned linguistic analyses by formulating, testing, and refining hypotheses about these patterns.
  4. Effectively and ethically conduct linguistic research and present the findings. 
  5. Critically evaluate popular beliefs regarding the nature and use of language and provide informed contributions to contemporary debates about language.
  6. Explore the inherent interdisciplinarity of linguistics.

Linguistics Department
Western Washington University
February 2020

Department Goals

Increasing interest in the department has led to a thriving major. To support this successful department, faculty continue to:

  • pursue cutting edge research agendas that encourage professional visibility through delivering papers at professional conferences and through publication
  • explore new ways to involve students in their research
  • make effective use of technology in instruction particularly through the use of computers for linguistic analysis
  • participate in career fairs and other campus events to promote the major and increase its visibility
  • assess the effectiveness of courses in the major and to implement any changes that improve the department, to make it reflect current standards of the discipline
  • insure that students have access to courses in the major, and are able to meet major requirements in a timely manner
  • explore ways to increase support for the major (through work-study students and department staff)
  • provide an intellectually engaging introduction to the major
  • provide an effective senior capstone experience to help prepare students to apply their skills and knowledge beyond graduation
  • offer multiple sections of quality GUR courses to contribute to the overall mission of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences and the University to provide a liberal arts education for our students, and in particular, an understanding of language.
  • provide career advising to help prepare students for employment in the field
  • place students in top graduate programs


Linguistics Department faculty are engaged in an ongoing process of assessing the effectiveness of the department in meeting the above goals. Assessment includes the following:

  • evaluating and improving the effectiveness of course design and content
  • evaluating and improving the senior capstone colloquium experience
  • tracking placement of graduates in graduate programs to assess the effectiveness of career advising
  • designing, implementing and evaluating exit interviews to gather information for assessment
  • periodically reviewing student evaluations, peer observations, syllabi, textbooks, exams, etc.
  • implementing alumni surveys (via the department newsletter)
  • reflecting, collaboratively, on teaching practices that address student learning outcomes