Master English Language Teaching & Applied Linguistics

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  • Entry requirements
    For experienced language teachers who want to reflect upon and further develop their understanding of the various theoretical and practical issues that impact on the field of language learning and teaching.
  • Academic title
    MA English Language Teaching & Applied Linguistics
  • Course description
    Programme description

    - Covers a balance of theoretical and pedagogic issues relevant to professionals working in increasingly diverse language teaching environments.
    - Supports individuals to pursue their own professional interests and develop expertise relevant to their career development.
    - Draws on the active research culture of the department.

    The programme provides opportunities to explore recent research in the field and find out more about specialist areas such as teacher education, materials development, teaching English for academic purposes, management and evaluation in ELT and intercultural studies.

    Core modules deal with language teaching methodology and curriculum design, linguistic analysis for language teaching, issues in language acquisition and use (sociolinguistics, psycholinguistics and SLA) and research methods. The programme also places particular emphasis on the notion of informed teaching and the need for teachers to mediate between theory and practice in constructing pedagogies according to specific teaching-learning contexts.

    Programme format and assessment
    Students on the standard programme follow all the core modules and choose two optional modules. Students who have the RSA/UCLES DELTA or Trinity House Diploma in ELT may be eligible for the fast track version of the programme which gives them exemption from Principles & Practice in ELT, and one of the option courses. Assessment is by coursework assignments and dissertation. There are no examinations.

    Programme modules for MA English Language Teaching & Applied Linguistics 

    Language Acquisition and Use
    (Core Module)
    This course will explore the nature of both the individual and social processes involved in the development and use of a second language. Participants will be provided with an overview of SLA theory and research that has developed over the past 40 years, with a view to identifying key trends and principles relevant to classroom-based and informal pedagogies. On this course SLA is framed within a bi/multilingual development perspective.

    Principles and Practice in the Language Teaching Curriculum (Core Module)
    This course looks at principles and theories which develop from and underpin the practice of language teaching. Its aims are to provide students with an advanced level understanding of how key theories of language (such as communicative competence) and key theories of learning (such as the behaviourist theory of learning) are related to approaches to language teaching; provide students with a critical overview of different approaches and methods in the field of language teaching, and conceptual frameworks for analysing, comparing and evaluating approaches and methods; provide students with a theoretically-informed understanding of the concept of a language education curriculum and how it relates to language teaching in different contexts; enable students to critically evaluate the following dimensions of the curriculum with reference to established perspectives: Syllabus Design, Learning Activities, Materials Design, Classroom Management, Roles of teachers and learners Curriculum development and renewal processes. It will also enable students to use current theoretical frameworks to critically analyse their own professional practice, and identify areas and directions for development.

    Psycholinguistics (Core Module)
    Psycholinguistics is the study of the psychological, cognitive and neurobiological factors that affect the ability (or inability) to acquire, learn, use and understand language in humans and other animals. Whereas people acquire their first language quite effortlessly and unconsciously, the acquisition of a second language tend to be a conscious effort and thus psycholinguistic knowledge can have a real impact in both the learning and teaching of foreign languages. In addition, we will also look at language disorders, such as autism and Williams' syndrome, focussing on how studies of disorders can inform on language in general. The course also includes a practical session in a computer lab where students are familiarised with experimental design and learn to operate various software programmes and hardware used in psycholinguistic experiments.

    English for Academic Purposes

    All students need to be able to meet the linguistic demands of a course of study ? and this need is critical if they are studying in a second or foreign language. This course focuses on the central problem of written communication in academic contexts, and gives participants an opportunity to develop an understanding of the language and teaching issues that are central to EAP programmes. The course draws on a range of important theoretical and descriptive frameworks in building an account of how best we can help EAP students ? in particular functional systemic linguistics, genre analysis, and corpus linguistics. It also give practical insights into how to use this understanding in preparing practical courses for students studying in English. Apart from this focus on teaching writing, this course gives students the chance to focus on important issues in EAP ? in particular: preparing for the IELTS test, study skills, needs analysis and the management of EAP courses.

    Issues in Teaching & Learning Modern Foreign Languages
    By the end of the course, participants will be able to articulate the key concepts in second language acquisition theory; understand how these concepts have been applied in MFL teaching practices; critique various teaching and learning approaches and the theoretical precepts which underpin them and relate this broader understanding to participants' own teaching contexts. The course develops knowledge and understanding of a range of theoretical frameworks on teaching and learning in MFL education and the seminal texts and literature in these areas.

    Linguistic Analysis for Language Teaching
    The aim of this course is to examine in detail specific areas of linguistic analysis relevant to language teaching. The course will provide students with an overview of key concepts, terms and models in the following areas, and relate these to syllabus, methodology, materials and other aspects of the second language curriculum. The course consists of an in-depth study of lexis, morphology, syntax, discourse analysis, and phonology.

    Management and Evaluation of Innovation
    Education professionals are regularly involved in the introduction, management and evaluation of innovations, from the micro (e.g. selecting a new course book, designing a syllabus for a group of students) through to the macro ( e.g. commissioning a new IT system, renewing a national curriculum). This course is premised on three working assumptions. The first is that innovations in education are best implemented through the systematic use of project methodologies. The second is that projects are in themselves the expressions of theories of change ? if I do x, and z conditions are fulfilled, then y will occur. The last assumption is that evaluation is a theory testing activity. This option is relevant to students who are interested in how we deal with change and innovation in English language teaching. Participants do not have to have previous management experience to benefit from the course, but those who have management experience will be encouraged to apply lessons learned during the course to their working situations.

    Materials Development in English Language Teaching
    This course will give participants a better idea of the role of materials within the ELT curriculum, and provide them with tools to investigate learners’ needs, plan courses for ESP and General English classes, and analyse, design and adapt tasks and materials for their students. The course builds on work already done in all the previous courses, especially on task-based instruction and SLA, descriptions of English, curriculum design and pedagogy. Participants will have the opportunity to apply theory and principles from these earlier courses and put them to practical use. This is a theory-informed practice oriented course and quite a large part of class time will be used for workshops where participants will work together in pairs and groups, evaluating, adapting and designing materials, and planning courses based on the needs of their students, with the help of the tutors. Some of the outputs from these workshops may be included in participants’ assignments. Participants will be expected to find time between sessions to do further work on materials development tasks that they start in the workshop sessions, in addition to reading the key texts. It is also recommended that during the course participants spend some time looking carefully at published materials as a source of ideas on content, topics, task types, layout and design, methodology and syllabus. The assignment for this course can be in the form of a piece of professional work in materials design or materials evaluation, rather than a traditional academic essay.

    Principles & Practice 2: Issues in Communicative Language Teaching
    Students will be required to draw on their experience reflexively in order to relate ideas from the course and from their reading to the practice of CLT in the various contexts that they are familiar with. Research on the nature of the skills of listening, reading, writing and speaking in a second/foreign language, will be critically examined together with research into the processes and strategies involved in acquiring these skills. Students will have the opportunity to relate current issues in teaching the language skills to their own contexts, through discussions and tasks in class as well as through the assessed coursework essays. Students will be able to choose an assignment title which focuses on one or more of the key topics covered, or they can negotiate their own title relating principles to practice in a specific context.

    Sociolinguistics: language in its social context
    This course aims to provide English Language Teaching professionals with an overview of the field of sociolinguistics, both micro- and macro-, along with an opportunity for the in-depth study of those areas within the field that have particular relevance to their professional lives. The course embraces both traditional variationist approaches to sociolinguistics and more recent socio-political approaches, and includes the following: Key concepts and issues in sociolinguistics The difficulty in defining ‘standard’ English The global spread of English World Englishes, English as a Lingua Franca and implications for ELT Pidgin and Creole language Language, thought and culture Gendered language Politeness theory The role of sociolinguistics in ELT

    Teacher Education
    For teachers who have little or no experience of teacher training, this course will provide a thorough overview of the field and introduce participants to the key issues. For those who are already teacher educators or responsible for teacher development in a managerial role the objective will be to extend and deepen knowledge and understanding of the central issues in teacher training, education and continued professional development in English language pedagogy. The course will familiarize participants with the relevant literature and encourage critical evaluation of this in the light of individual experience in order to develop awareness of the key choices available to a teacher educator in terms of approaches, methods and materials. This will involve the development of teacher training skills through collaborative workshops and through simulated teacher supervision and evaluation. In addition to discussion of teacher education literature, there will be consideration of recent developments in applied linguistics. This will involve reflection on the implication of these with regard to the nature of curricula in existing teacher education programmes, and in relation to the planning and implementation of training/education/development initiatives in different teaching contexts.


    One year FT, two years PT. Fast track four terms. Starts September FT .

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