The linguistics program at UTM offers students insights on how to use language appropriately by studying the practical aspects of English grammar, along with exploring the social value of linguistic structures. Last Wednesday, November 9th, the Language Studies Academic Society (LSAS) held an event called “Lemonade with Linguistics” in the red room at the Student Centre, providing an opportunity for students to learn more about the society and the department.
The LSAS is a student-run organization that began in 2011 under the Department of Language Studies at UTM. “We cater to students of the department—and outside the [Language Studies] department—by providing them with various opportunities, [such as] opportunities to practice the language they’re learning learn more about, [and] career opportunities in the Language Studies Field,” said Diala Saab, president of LSAS.
LSAS focuses on all of the different languages taught at UTM. “We don’t focus just on linguistics, we focus on Arabic, Italian, Spanish, French, along with languages that are not taught at UTM, such as the American Sign Language,” explained Saab. The LSAS, as its president mentions, is currently planning an American Sign Language workshop for any interested student.
Event posters for Lemonade with Linguistics tempted students to meet their professors. The Facebook event page promised students “chill conversation with Linguistic professors.” Present at Lemonade with Linguistics was course instructor in the Department of Language Studies Sophia Bello, and assistant professors, Michelle Troberg and Derik Denis.
“Events like these are excellent,” stated Denis, “I can get to know my students in a setting that’s more informal and intimate.”
10-15 students at a time were gathered in the red room, huddled around the three professors, deep in conversation that ranged from vowel shifts to graduate school options.
When asked about what brought on the idea for “Lemonade with Linguistics,” Saab answered that it is part of a greater initiative that the LSAS has in mind. “We want to have a carousel-style event where every month we’re going to have different languages; where a bunch of professors from that department connect with their students, discuss different opportunities that the students can reach out for. The students can get to know more about their professors and their research and connect more with their field of study and the language itself.”
“Our next one is hopefully going to be Italian in January with the same idea. We will have some Italian professors and students who are Italian speakers or who love the language or the culture,” Saab added.
The president for LSAS also mentioned, “[We] have a charity event coming up, which is a week-long aphasia fundraiser event. It’s happening in collaboration with Linguistics League, Creatives for Change, PAWS. The funds are going to the Halton-Peel Community Centre to support aphasia programs in the community.”
Saab stated that LSAS wants students to get to know their professors and vice versa, so that the professors can get a better idea of how to help their students achieve their goals. “Today I felt we had a successful event. We reached a lot of students,” she reflected, adding that many first-year students were present at the event.
“It’s nice to know that people from that first years are reaching out towards different opportunities and getting to know their professors. It will help them in the long run,” Saab said, “Which is just what we were hoping for.”