Whether you’re teaching a college-level linguistics class or classes on more general principles of written and spoken language, it’s important for your students to examine real-world language.
For example, if you’re teaching phonetics/phonology in college (or reading skills in the K-12 system), it’s important for students to be exposed to a variety of voices so that they understand the limitations of the English spelling system.
Or, if you’re teaching composition skills, it’s important for students to learn to investigate primary sources in addition to the second hand analsys that the typically get in textbooks. In this way, they are able to see the flaws (and successes) of such second hand reporting, thus engaging them in critical thinking skills that are sometimes more difficult to faciliate when they only have access to secondary sources.
One way to ensure such exposure to real-world language, is to direct them toward linguistic corpora (language-based collections) on the web. Here’s a lits of corpora that might work well for such projects.
Call Home American English Speech (University of Pennsylvania)
COCA: Corpus of Contemporary American English (Mark Davies, BYU)
COHA: Corpus of Historical American English (Mark Davies, BYU)
Institute for Latino Studies: Latino Arts and Culture Oral History Project
Mountain Voices: Stories from people who live in mountain regions all over the world