Language for Education - EDU00018M

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  • Department: Education
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Joe Fagan
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: M
  • Academic year of delivery: 2017-18

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Autumn Term 2017-18

Module aims

  • To introduce selected language concepts, theories and elements which are relevant to language teaching and learning, but which do not always figure in traditional language courses
  • To introduce the idea that language and discourse structures can be (a) motivated, meaningful or purposeful and (b) flexible or fuzzy, rather than fixed or black and white
  • To introduce ways in which language structure is used, with other concepts, to create meaningful discourse and interactions

Module learning outcomes

Subject content

  • Be aware of language-related and social topics (like gender, power, creativity and language variation) that are important, but currently problematic, with respect to second language education.
  • Carry out a simple empirical analysis of the structure of aspects of spoken and written language.
  • To demonstrate an awareness of how the structure of English relates to the teaching and learning of English.

Academic and graduate skills

  • Engage critically with academic and language teaching publications
  • Formulate critical and balanced arguments orally and in writing
  • Participate in groupwork and problem-solving activities
  • Undertake and report appropriately short, empirical data collection and analysis work
  • Demonstrate effective planning and time management
  • Word-process, use a concordancer, manage files, use e-mail, VLE and the Web

Module content

Course outline

Week 2 The conceptual roots of language

Week 3 Holding a conversation

Week 4 Variation in language

Week 5 Grammar: Who needs it?

Week 6 Speaking 1: The sounds of language

Week 7 Speaking 2: Intonation and paralanguage

Week 8 Vocabulary 1

Week 9 Vocabulary 2

Week 10 Being creative

Course details

Week 2

Introduction: The conceptual roots of language

This initial session will begin by considering what learners, teachers and language education researchers need to know about language. The session will introduce the idea of levels of analysis and introduce key concepts and labels. The key concepts will include the speaker-hearer conversation space, ‘distancing’ and ‘embodiment’.

Week 3

Holding a conversation

The session will explore a number of important features of conversations and how people structure them. The session will cover turn taking, changing topic and repairing conversations. It will also explore more generally how people manipulate conversations in order to achieve particular purposes. The session will, finally, examine why a purely observation-based Conversation Analysis is rarely adequate for examining classroom talk.

Week 4

Variation in language

The session comprising a lecture and a short follow-up session will introduce briefly the main types of variation which speakers are exposed to, such as variation by sex and interest, idiosyncratic variation and genre, as well as (briefly) questions of chronological change and the problem of accent, dialect and standard language. The close relationship between choosing a variety/variant and making an ‘act of Identity’ will be stressed.

Week 5

Grammar: Who needs it?

The session will consider how far traditional grammar is relevant or useful in a teaching context. It will examine some of the differences between grammar for writing and grammar for speaking (Is speaking grammatical?). The idea of parts of speech will be reviewed. A selection of ‘interesting’ grammatical structures will be examined and related to the idea of information structure and foregrounding.

Workshop 1

Week 6

Speaking 1: The sounds of language

The first speaking session will review the main types of sound from an articulatory point of view. We will consider the educational impact of topics such as the fact that people hear syllables not segments. The importance of the neural link between articulation mechanisms, quiet rehearsal and (a) interpreting speech and (b) grammar will be noted. A selection of sounds/ syllables of relevance to the English teacher will be examined. The vexed question of English spelling will be touched on; though speech will be treated as primary, the case will be made for seeing writing and speech as interdependent.

Week 7

Speaking 2: Intonation and paralanguage

This session will briefly examine stress, rhythm, intonation and ‘voice control’. It will explore how speakers bring notions together to express emotions and reactions, like surprise, sarcasm, irritation, brightness etc. The advantages and limits of a simple model of intonation and discourse meaning will be examined. Key features of English intonation (such as stepping up/down and final ‘flicking’) will be explored.

Week 8

Vocabulary 1

The first vocabulary session will concentrate on the traditional notions. It will consider the status of the word in both spoken and written English and examine some of the traditional ‘lexical relationships’. It will touch on the notion of fixed expressions, formulae, idioms and metonymy.

Workshop 2

Week 9

Vocabulary 2

The second vocabulary session focuses on figurative language, and in particular metaphor.

Week 10

Being creative

The final session will (re)consider the nature of innovation, examine why total innovation is rare and establish different degrees of creativity that relate to teaching and learning languages. Ways in which concrete and other types of poetry can be used to help teach (e.g.) vocabulary will be explored. The language of jokes and wordplay will then be examined (hopefully humorously). If there is time, the notion of genre will be taken up again briefly, with (e.g.) newspaper headlines, crosswords and advertisements. The latter will be used to examine the way in which language often operates on numerous levels concurrently.


Task Length % of module mark
N/A 100

Special assessment rules


Additional assessment information


The module will be assessed by an essay of 4,000-5,000 words on a topic related to the module content, and demonstrating the learning outcomes.


The module will be reassessed by an essay of 4,000-5,000 words.


Task Length % of module mark
N/A 100

Module feedback

Written feedback on assignment report sheet (within 6 weeks) and face to face feedback in supervisions

Indicative reading

Coates, J. (2004). Women, men and language (3rd ed.). London: Longman.
Lakoff, G. & Johnson, M. (1980/2003). Metaphors we live by. Chicago: Chicago University press.
Schmitt, N. (Ed.) (2010). An introduction to applied linguistics (2nd ed.). London: Arnold.
Yule, G. (1996). Pragmatics. Oxford introductions to language study. Oxford: OUP.

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.