Linguistics instructors are currently scrambling to move their courses online and there are resources online that can help, but it’s a lot of work to sort through what exists and figure out what makes sense for you to use. Do you really have time to watch a dozen youtube videos introducing the IPA just to decide which one to have your students watch? Probably not.
We’ve created this project to help. It’s called Mutual Intelligibility, because we’re trying to make resources and instructors more intelligible to each other. You can put your email here to get Mutual Intelligibility newsletters direct in your inbox:
Mutual Intelligibility is produced by Lauren Gawne (Superlinguo) and Gretchen McCulloch (All Things Linguistic), with the support of our Lingthusiasm patrons. We accept post submissions. Our initial 3 Links editor was Liz McCullough and our Resource Guide contributor was Kate Whitcomb (Layman's Linguist).
There are weekly 3 Links about a specific topic, with a short description for each so you can easily figure out which ones are useful to assign to your students. We also have six longer Resource Guides for specific topics. These provide a comprehensive lesson plan like a textbook’s supplementary material but entirely online. Our six Resource Guides cover IPA Consonants, IPA Vowels, Morphology, Constituency, World Englishes, and Linguistic Diversity.
The newsletter and guides are free and will always remain free, but if you have a stable income and find that they’re reducing your stress and saving you time, we're able to fund these because of the Lingthusiasm Patreon and your contributions enable us to fund more guides, more quickly.
Other ways to help are by giving us ideas for future topics and sending us resource links (of either things you’ve made or have found useful) for potential inclusion in future newsletters. Or of course, simply by signing up!
Contribute to Mutual Intelligibility
Unfortunately we’re not in a position to offer internships. This is why we’ve created the open submissions process for Mutual Intelligibility. You will be credited for any 3 Links posts we publish, and you’re welcome to add these to your CV.
You can submit a 3 Links post to Mutual Intelligibility using this online form. We edit and publish strong contributions and credit you as a contributor.
Before you make a submission, have a look at the existing posts.
A good 3 Links post has 3 distinct resources in one specific linguistics topic.
We know that there are often more than three possible resources available on a particular topic! That's why a 3 Links post is a more valuable resource than search -- because we're exercising our curatorial judgement to point to a range of useful resources and evaluate them on factors that might be useful in teaching.
Choosing a topic
Specific topics for 3 links posts are more targeted than general fields of linguistics. Instead of vowels, we have 3 links for Schwa, instead of morphology we have 3 links for Zero Morphs, instead of sociolinguistics we have 3 links for Linguistic Discrimination and African American English. This leaves space for further topics under these subfields to be the topics of future 3 Links posts. It's often useful to research resources and consider topics in tandem — if you find too many or too few great resources, try shifting the focus of the topic!
Choosing what to point to
Ideally, resources will be engaging, accurate, and of reasonable production quality (e.g. video is well-lit). It may not be possible to find three resources that match all of these characteristics at once, so you can also try to balance these characteristics across the group of three (e.g. one that's more comprehensive, and one that’s engaging but fluffier). Instructors have expressed to us that videos are particularly useful, especially if they have human-edited captions, so try and include at least one video if possible (but not 3 videos). Resources at a second-year/non-intro level are fine (and indeed useful!) but note if they have prerequisite knowledge.
Think about your resources as a group of three, not just individually. If two are substantially similar, pick the better one to leave space for something else in a different style. (For example, maybe there’s a 40 minute podcast episode, a 10 minute youtube video and a blog post — three 40 minute lecture-style videos is NOT a good experience.) Be proactive about including resources created by people who are underrepresented in pop linguistics, along multiple axes, not just the usual sources that instructors may already know about. If there are multiple relevant links by the same person or team, pick the best one for this particular topic. (And you can note briefly that more resources like X exist.)
Do not include resources that would not be appropriate for a high school level classroom (even though many instructors are at a university level, this is just to be safe as we have some high school level instructors), such as swearing (unless the theme is the linguistics of swearing), violent/sexual material, and content that reproduces stereotypes uncritically (watch out for this in topics relating to different accents and dialects, which is a good topic area but sometimes videos related to it are mocking — make sure to watch them and check).
All resources should include a short (1-2 sentence) summary of the major content/approach of the resource, how long it is, whether it has transcripts and if they're human-edited (for audio/video resources), and what style it's produced in (e.g. lecture, animated short, interview).
This section is for something a bit fun or cute that's loosely related to the topic in question, such as a meme, comic, joke, or short funny video — think of something a prof could put on the first or last slide of a topic for a chuckle (or groan!).
If you can’t think of anything, try googling for “<name of topic> memes” or check out relevant search terms over at All Things Linguistic.