Get to Know Your Instructors: Ann Bunger

Ann Bunger (Indiana University) doesn’t just love language acquisition and pedagogy, she’s also a fan of cats and summer vacation. Keep reading to hear about her #lingstitute2019 courses Linguistics Pedagogy and Acquisition of Semantics (yes, that’s TWO!) that she is co-teaching and maybe learn a little bit about how she ended up in linguistics along the way!

1. Can you please tell us about your linguistic background? 

I first encountered linguistics as an undergraduate at The College of William and Mary when a friend suggested I might enjoy taking the intro course she’d just finished (She was right!), and I ended up double majoring in Biology and Linguistics. After taking a few gap years to work as a copyeditor, I did my Ph.D. in Linguistics at Northwestern University, then went on to postdocs at the Institute for Research in Cognitive Science at the University of Pennsylvania and in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at the University of Delaware. For the past five years, I’ve been teaching in the Department of Linguistics at Indiana University.

2. When did you first join the LSA?

I submitted my first abstract to an Annual Meeting in 2001. But the first Annual Meeting I attended was in Chicago in 2000, by taking advantage of the LSA’s offer of free registration to local students who volunteered at the book exhibit.

3. Can you tell us about the course you are teaching at the Institute? 

I am co-teaching a course on teaching at the Institute (Linguistics Pedagogy: Theory and Application) with Miranda McCarvel. Despite the fact that most linguists end up teaching as part of their jobs, the training we receive for that role is often haphazard and is usually deprioritized in favor of training in research and writing. Miranda and I have both served as chairs of the LSA’s Linguistics in Higher Education committee, and we are passionate about helping linguists explore evidence-based methods for engaging students in course material. As suggested by the name, the course will involve some investigation of theories of teaching and learning, some hands-on creation of materials for use in classrooms and teaching portfolios, and some practical experience putting those theories and materials into action.

4. What research are you currently working on? 

After many years of research on event representation and word learning in children, my focus has been shifting to the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. I’m currently working on a project that assesses the use of wiki technology as a way to mentor undergraduate students through the process of carrying out research projects.

5. What is your favorite hobby or pastime?

I love to bake, but I’m not great at making time for that during the school year, so lately re-watching Game of Thrones has been my primary hobby.

6. In a parallel universe in which you are not an academic/linguist, what would you be?

Oh, I’d still be doing something with words and children, probably as an editor or a children’s librarian.

7. What are you most looking forward to about Davis?

I attended the 2003 LSA Institute at Michigan State University, and have fond memories of spending a few months in a town overrun by linguists. I’m looking forward to having that experience again, and also to exploring the food and the scenery of Northern California. I’ll be driving from Indiana to Davis (and home again at the end), so I’m also looking forward to the road trip!

8. Ice cream or Cake? Cats or Dogs? Quarter system or Semester system?

Pie. Cats. My favorite thing about the Quarter system was that classes started in late September, and my favorite thing about the Semester system is that they end in early May, so I suppose my answer to this question is: Summer break.

9. What advice would you give to graduate students interested in pursuing a career in linguistics?

If you have life goals that deviate from the standard scholarly path, don’t be afraid to tell people about them. Graduate school doesn’t have to be a one-size-fits-all experience. There are people around you who want to see you achieve whatever measure of success is meaningful for you, and they will be better equipped to help you if you let them know what’s up.