Teaching Languages vs. Teaching on Languages

Before I started teaching on languages (i.e., teaching linguistics) after assuming the present academic position in Israel a little more than 12 years ago, I had taught several languages - Japanese, English, Hebrew, Yiddish, Esperanto, Aramaic and Arabic, if I'm not mistaken - at various settings as both a university and school teacher and a private tutor for almost 20 years.

During these 12 years I've been too busy teaching on languages theoretically to stop to think about my previous career of teaching languages practically. It was only after I resumed teaching Yiddish this academic year both communally and privately that I started to realize that actually, teaching languages is my professional anchor, so to speak, and it has laid the foundation for my present job of teaching on languages. Though there is at least one school of linguistics that seems to claim that linguistics is first of foremost the study of language, I'm more inclined to another school of thought that linguistics should at least start by empirically studying languages.

This old-new experience of teaching a language has made me realize again that teaching languages not only complements but also enriches the task of teaching on them. And just as I can't separate the learning and teaching of languages from the society and culture of their respective speakers, I can't separate the study of languages from their sociocultural settings, so many of the elective courses in linguistics I've been teaching are with a sociocultural slant.

As my communal and private courses in Yiddish will end in four months, I've already started to look for a way or ways to keep teaching languages together with their respective culture as I've also realized that I enjoy teaching languages even more than teaching on languages and that I may be able to share my practical knowledge of learning languages efficiently (but not necessarily my experience of learning linguistics) with other people who are also interested in languages.