LING001: Introduction to Language

  • How can we describe the sounds in the world’s languages?
  • What exactly is an accent?
  • How do bits of words combine?
  • How are first and other languages learned by children and adults?
  • What makes a sitcom funny, or a politician sound deceitful?
  • How is language used in context?

Every year hundreds of Georgetown students, with a variety of different backgrounds and interests, enroll in the Intro to Language course which is designed to provide an introduction to the scientific study of language. Not only does it fulfill the Social Science/General Education requirement, it provides a truly engaging learning experience and is a lot of fun.

The course involves lots of hands-on activities, like painting your tongue with charcoal mixed with water and then looking at the roof of your mouth with a mirror to see how you articulate sounds (palatography) and role-playing with classmates to find out how quickly cultural differences in communication styles can make a conversation go awry. Short lectures and problem sets will help you solidify your new knowledge. Linguistics courses are both intuitive and memorable, because the concepts apply directly to your own language(s) and how you use them in everyday life. You may never think about communication the same way again!

Ling 001 is quite different from typical introductory courses taught in a large lecture format. Instead, in Linguistics we provide a personal, individualized class experience, with each section consisting of 25 students or fewer.

Department Textbook

We want everyone to take from our introductory course the same excitement we feel for the field. Most of the chapters in our textbook, published by Cambridge University Press, were written by Georgetown Linguistics professors, many of whom regularly teach sections of Introduction to Language, and one of whom is always the coordinator for this gateway course.


Each of these sections is taught by a different instructor who is a dedicated, knowledgeable linguist eager to share their understanding (and sense of wonder) about language with you. Instructors are selected from our regular faculty, as well as our visiting assistant professors, and advanced, experienced graduate students. Faculty have all completed doctorates in linguistics and have taught this and/or other undergraduate courses before with stellar reviews. Our advanced graduate student instructors have all completed a year-long teaching practicum, and have been selected by the course coordinator based on their outstanding work with students in their prior roles as teaching assistants.

All instructors follow the same course policies, procedures and assessment frameworks and teach from a shared syllabus, tailoring some of the topics they teach based on their individual interests and expertise. This allows for a good balance of comparability and individuality across the sections.

The Course
Schedule of Classes

Class Activities
"Do You Speak American?"
IPA Charts

Become a Linguistics Major
Careers in Linguistics