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MA Applied Linguistics

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  • Objectives
    This course aims to give those involved in English language education an understanding of areas of linguistics which have a bearing on the field. Students are also required to complete a research dissertation on a topic relevant to language education. The programme has a compulsory module on Research Training which covers research approaches in language education and in social science, and which is complemented by research and transferable skills training from the University’s Graduate Training programme. Students who have a first degree in Linguistics may be exempt from compulsory modules which they have already covered in their first degree.
  • Entry requirements
    Entry Good first degree normally required. Applicants who do not speak English as their native language must pass the IELTS English test with a score of 6.5 in all four components or a TOEFL exam with a score of 600
  • Academic Title
    MA Applied Linguistics
  • Course description
     Compulsory modules:

        * Sounds and Sound Structure: Phonetics and Phonology
        * Meaning: Semantics and Pragmatics or Variation in English
        * English Sentence Structure
        * Linguistics Research Training
        * Applied Linguistics for TEFL
        * Teaching English as a Foreign Language

    Optional modules:

        * Child Language Acquisition
        * Discourse Analysis
        * History of English
        * Language and Gender
        * Sociolinguistics
        * Interactional Pragmatics
        * Speech and Language Disorders
        * Forensic Linguistics
        * Bilingualism
        * English and Globalisation

    Graduate Programme Research Training Modules include:

        * Information Searching Skills
        * Information Technology and Use of Word Processors
        * Application of Information Technology to Data Handling
        * Presentation Skills

    Module Descriptions

    Sounds and Sound Structure: Phonetics and Phonology
    In this module you will receive a grounding in the core areas of phonetics and phonology, where we will look at the nature and patterning of speech sounds, the basic building blocks of language. The knowledge and skills you acquire here will be essential for much of your work in linguistics.

    Meaning: Semantics and Pragmatics
    Meaning is central to the study of language. Semantics and pragmatics deal with different aspects of meaning. In semantics we study the meaning of words and sentences; in pragmatics we investigate the way in which speakers make meaning. The aim of this course is to introduce you to basic concepts in semantics and pragmatics. We shall begin by looking at traditional approaches to semantics, including componential analysis. The limitations of traditional, 'logical' approaches then lead us to consider cognitive approaches to word meaning, which accommodate phenomena of vagueness and semantic 'fuzziness'. Within the overall framework of cognitive semantics, we will explore a number of themes including prototype theory, metaphor and metonymy. In the second half of the course you will be introduced to basic concepts in pragmatics. Topics will include ambiguity, speech acts, conversational implicature (how people mean more than their words say), indirectness (why don't people say what they mean?), terms of address and the ways in which they are used; and theories of politeness.

    Variation in English
    English is the most widely used language in the world with millions of first and second language speakers. In this module we will outline some of the many varieties of the language and consider how we might record and describe a particular variety. Topics covered will include variation within the UK, including geographical, social and age-related variation, dialect levelling and language change, the ‘new Englishes’, pidgin and creole varieties and spoken and written English. We will also consider the role variation plays in power relationships and in educational contexts.

    English Sentence Structure
    The first part of the programme is essentially descriptive:  we look at the grammar of English with particular reference to different types of phrases, clauses and sentences and their grammatical functions; and we also consider the relationship between grammar and meaning.  In the second part of the programme we begin to consider the theoretical aspect of the grammar of natural language – i.e. syntax – and what it can tell us about the human mind.

    Linguistics Research Training
    This module is intended to do three things:

        * To help students prepare for the Dissertation
        * To familiarise students with a range of research approaches in linguistics and social science
        * To equip students to critically read research articles and reports

    Applied Linguistics for TEFL
    Applied Linguistics is concerned with the application of linguistics to real life questions. The main question which we address in this module is what issues are to be taken into account in teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL). We focus in turn on the English language, on culture and context, and on pedagogical concerns.

        * Focus on the English language: Here we consider the implications for TEFL of: competing models of English, differing conceptions of English grammar, the vast vocabulary of English, variation and change in English, “real” and idealised language.
        * Focus on culture and context: What is a “native speaker of English”, and how should we take account of culture, and of the notion of communicative competence in language teaching? What is the role of the broader context of language policies and language politics.
        * Focus on pedagogic issues: Language syllabuses, error analysis, written language and literacy.

    Teaching English as a Foreign Language
    We start with a profile of the TEFL profession: what is the scope and variety of TEFL, and what qualifications are available to teachers of EFL, as well as to learners?  We then review what is meant by knowing a language, and the implications of that for teaching a language.  Next we consider TEFL in terms of language syllabus design, and look at the main “schools of thought”:  grammar-translation, structuralism, functionalism and the communicative approach. The focus then moves to lesson planning at classroom level, and we discuss, with practical examples, how new language, whether vocabulary or syntactic patterns, may be introduced, practiced and consolidated. Ways of teaching the four skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing will be presented, and you will also consider how these skills can be integrated. Having considered language teaching, we consider language learners, and in particular the errors they make: what constitutes an “error”, why do errors occur, and how might they be handled? Finally we look at some of the main principles in language testing.

    Child Language Acquisition
    The course touches on language development in both monolinguals and bilinguals, and both normal and atypical development.  It takes some central topics in the acquisition of language and looks in detail at each in turn.  These include the acquisition of the lexicon and categories, of grammar, and of speech sounds and prosodic and segmental patterns.  We examine a variety of recent theoretical positions, including nativist and constructivist positions, and a range of empirical approaches used to test these positions.

    Discourse Analysis
    This module will introduce students to a range of different analyses and analytic concerns that all fall under the rubric of ‘discourse analysis’. Although this module is primarily functional and practical (i.e. focused on analysing texts), discussions will also include the theoretical differences that motivate many of those approaches. Central concerns include: lexical and semantic classifications that illustrate social and/or cultural attitudes toward world phenomena; and how discourse structures represent social and cultural group membership.

    History of English
    This module examines the history of the English language up to c. 1800 from two different but interlocking perspectives. First we trace the rise of Standard English against the background of historical events, social change and language standardisation theory, asking questions such as 'What processes lead to the development of a standard language? When did 'Standard' English evolve, and why?'. In the second part of the module, we look at the way the standard language itself has changed in terms of its grammar, pronunciation etc.; and at the historical relationship between Standard English and non-standard regional dialects. This part of the module raises questions such as 'Why has 'standard' English changed so much?  What are the historical origins of Standard English and of the main regional dialects?'.

    Language and Gender
    This module will review research in language and gender over the last thirty years outlining trends such as the deficit, dominance and different approaches, and moving on to the social constructionist approach of ‘doing gender’.  Students will be encouraged to participate in the discussion of required readings and to try out some practical tasks.

    Sociolinguistics
    This module will examine what factors determine speakers’ choice of language or language variety. Various theoretical perspectives will be presented, including the ethnography of speaking, Labovian variation theory, accommodation theory and the rational choice model. Within these theoretical perspectives we shall cover topics such as the relation between language and social class, gender and social networks and the effect of the addressee on language choice.

    Interactional Pragmatics
    The focus of this module is the way in which people make meaning in interaction. We will look at recent developments in pragmatic theory and practice, such as: the dynamic nature of pragmatic meaning and the negotiation of meaning. Topics will include discourse roles, social roles, role-switching in interaction, language and power. We shall also discuss the difference between pragmatics and sociolinguistics and pragmatics and conversation analysis. An important aim of the course is to help you to evaluate critically traditional and more recent developments in pragmatic theory and practice, by attempting to apply them to a range of naturally occurring spoken (and sometimes written) data. In your assignments, you will have the opportunity to explore these issues in greater depth, by choosing a piece of naturally occurring data to analyse from the pragmatic point of view.

    Speech and Language Disorders
    The focus of this module will be on speech and language disorders, but students will also have the opportunity to learn about and report topics within the related fields of neurolinguistics generally, normal speech and language processing and the evolution of language. Five sessions will be devoted to lectures on speech and language disorders and will include the following topics:

        * Clinical linguistics
        * Phonological disability
        * Grammatical disability
        * Semantic disability
        * Pragmatic disability

    The other half of the seminar will be based on a series of papers selected from journals and relevant books on which students will give oral reports and which will form the basis for their essays.  Topics will vary according to student choice, but may include:

        * All aspects of speech/language disorders
        * Normal and disordered speech/language as studied with modern brain imaging
        * Comparative communication, e.g. the linguistic abilities of chimps versus humans
        * Origins and evolution of language

    Forensic Linguistics
    There are two definitions of forensic linguistics: (i) the techniques used by linguists to reveal evidence, and (ii) the language used in legal interactions. In this module we shall deal with both areas. This seminar module will combine lectures and student presentations based on a series of papers selected from the journal, Forensic Linguistics, and a range of other books and journal articles. Topics will vary according to student choice, but may include:

        * case studies of the work of forensic linguists in specific trials or investigations
        * Advice to lawyers on dealing with witnesses
        * Advice to witnesses on dealing with interrogations
        * Forensic speaker identification.

    Bilingualism
    This seminar will have two main themes: how individuals choose between the two or more languages they know (code-switching) and how children become bilingual in the first place (bilingual acquisition), but students interested in other topics are also welcome. For their coursework students may choose to (a) analyse existing code-switching or acquisition data as part of an individual or group research project or (b) negotiate their own project on any aspect of bilingualism.

    English and Globalisation
    This module considers the social, political and linguistic factors affecting the spread of English. We examine the consequences of decisions made, ranging from the effect on the individual’s linguistic and academic prowess, to the relationship between language policies and national development

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