Suzanne Loosen started working as a high school English teacher in the Milwaukee Public Schools in 2003. While teaching, she earned a Master’s degree in English with a focus on Language and Linguistics; for her Master’s thesis, she wrote a course proposal for a high school level linguistics class. The proposal went on to be approved by the Milwaukee School Board in 2010, and Loosen started teaching the class to 10th-12th graders at the Milwaukee School of Languages in the 2010-11 school year. Since that time, Loosen has taught Linguistics to 250 high school students. Loosen shared the development of her class on a blog and then in an article for Language entitled “High School Linguistics.” She is a member of the LSA’s Language in the Schools and AP Linguistics committees. In 2018, she presented with fellow teacher Ian Connally at the Societas Linguistica Europa conference in a workshop called “Theoretical Linguistics in Secondary Education.” With Teaira McMurtry, she wrote a chapter for Michelle Devereaux and Chris Palmer’s Teaching Language Variation in the Classroom: Strategies and Models from Teachers and Linguistics. In 2019, she traveled with the US students and coaches Lori Levin, Drago Radev, and Aleka Blackwell to the International Linguistics Olympiad in Korea to do research with Jeffrey Heinz to learn more about how the field of linguistics is promoted to high school students around the globe.

The LSA Member Spotlight highlights the interests and accomplishments of a different LSA member each month. Click here to see previous Member Spotlights.

When did you first join the LSA?

I joined the LSA during grad school in 2008. Working as a high school teacher rather than as a linguist made it clear to me that I needed to be proactive about reaching out to a wide professional network for support.

How have you been involved with the LSA since you joined?

I attended my first LSA conference in 2013 and was thrilled to meet linguists who I had been emailing with for the previous five years. I immediately felt very welcome. The Linguistics in the Schools committee members encouraged me to write an article for Language about my work with high school students. I presented at my first LSA in 2017 as part of a panel organized by Gretchen McCulloch and Moti Lieberman called “Getting High School Students into Linguistics” and there attended the inaugural meeting of the AP Linguistics committee. In 2019, I organized a panel of seven high school teachers from around the US called “The Teachers Are Here: Promoting Linguistics in High Schools” with three English teachers - Amy Plackowski, Teaira McMurtry, and me, two Latin teachers - John Van Way and Victoria Kirgesner, one Spanish teacher - Abraham Leach, and one Math teacher - Andrew Bergdahl, sharing how we have integrated the study of linguistics into our high school programs.

What are you currently researching/working on?

I am the moderator of two groups on Facebook that serve as places where people can come together to connect and discuss efforts relating to expanding linguistics in K-12 education: AP Linguistics and High School Teachers Incorporating Linguistics. Join us! 

What are your personal favorite linguistic articles or studies?

My starting place was reading about the collaborations of Wayne O’Neil, Maya Honda, and David Pippin. The Language and Life Project at NC State led by Walt Wolfram and Jeff Reaser is a phenomenal resource for teachers looking to get started on incorporating linguistics into their classrooms. To learn more about the efforts to create an AP Linguistics course, I recommend Richard Larson, Kristin Denham, and Anne Lobeck’s article “The AP Linguistics Initiative” (2019).

Is there anything else you'd like to say to the LSA membership as a whole?

I encourage all LSA members to connect to at least one K-12 teacher in your area. I encourage you to be a classroom guest speaker, to coach a team for the North American Computational Linguistics Open Competition (NACLO), to talk to school administrators about creating a linguistics course or club at your local high school, and to share what you know and love about language with students in your community!