FOG Program Award Seeds a New UCSB Outreach Program

UCSB SKILLS — the School Kids Investigating Language in Life and Society Program is designed to increase participating students' academic achievement, specifically students from linguistic, ethnic and socio-economically marginalized minorities, by tapping into their curiosity and offering information to help prepare them for success in college and graduate school.

Growing rapidly in the past three years, from a single high school outreach effort developed by UCSB linguistics and education faculty to several sites today, the SKILLS Program engages participants in linguistics research to strengthen their critical thinking skills. High school age students are taught to conduct interviews, summarize findings in written reports and apply hands-on research strategies (including ethnography, oral history, video and still photography). SKILLS participants are mentored by UCSB professors and UCSB students through this in-depth exploration of sociocultural linguistics and the linguistic diversity in their communities. Their collaborative efforts are helping UCSB uncover new linguistic information.

In 2009, SKILLS director Mary Bucholtz , Ph.D. and co-director Jin Sook Lee, Ph.D. joined forces to launch a "Language and Society" course at Carpinteria High School. Over the initial two years of this campus-school collaboration, they were awarded funding by the UCSB Office of Education Partnerships Faculty Outreach Grant (FOG) Program, $24,000 (2009-2010) and $15,000 (2010-11). In 2011, Professor Bucholtz and Professor Lee applied to the Verizon Foundation and secured $30,000 to serve over 100 students at three sites for 2012.

The UCSB SKILLS Program is currently implemented at Santa Barbara High School as an after-school enrichment program and at Carpinteria High School as a college-credit course offered by the school. Participants in the 2011-12 UCSB's Upward Bound Program, young people ages 15-18 from six local high schools, also gained access to SKILLS via Saturday College sessions.

SKILLS instructors lead high school students through units such as: "Language in the Peer Group," "Language in the Family," and "Language in the Community." Beyond imparting new information and ideas, these lessons are representative of studies at the college level. Students engage in extended research projects, think critically about issues related to language and society, and learn transferrable writing and research skills. Each year, UCSB hosts a SKILLS Day at the end of the program where high school students make public presentations and share their knowledge.

For more information, please visit:

SKILLS Program Contact:
Mary Bucholtz, Ph.D., Professor
Phone: (805) 893-3776 Fax: (805) 893-7492