Accessibility statement

Understanding Language in the Real World - LAN00051C

« Back to module search

  • Department: Language and Linguistic Science
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Julia Kolkmann
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: C
  • Academic year of delivery: 2024-25
    • See module specification for other years: 2023-24

Module summary

This module is taken by all students in the Department of Language and Linguistic Science (whose degree is based wholly in L&LS), in the first semester of the first year. The module provides structured support to the transition into the study of language and/or linguistics at university, and to Problem Based Learning (PBL), as well as a basic introduction to core foundational analytical concepts in the study of natural language. You will work in small groups - across degree programmes but usually from the same college - so you can build strong collaborative learning habits from the start of your degree. You will learn not only how to direct your own learning in collaboration with others, but also how to actively connect your new learning to what you already know about the world, from your own and others' experience and from prior study.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 1 2024-25

Module aims

The module has two central aims: to introduce you to the study of natural language as used by members of different linguistic communities, and to provide you with a core set of academic skills that you will apply throughout your degree. It does so by employing a Problem Based Learning (PBL) approach which will see you and your peers work independently in small groups on a number of language-based problem sets under the guidance of a trained facilitator. The module also involves a strong reflective component, as part of which you will complete the York Strengths programme and learn how to reflect effectively on the transferable skills you learn throughout your time at university.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of the module you should:

  • be able to relate your learning to your preexisting knowledge about the world
  • understand and approach core concepts in the study of natural language
  • work effectively in small groups
  • apply academic skills correctly and consistently across different types of task
  • reflect on your own learning and develop strategies to address any shortcomings

Module content

You will learn to approach important questions in the study of natural language by going through four distinct two-week PBL cycles. Each cycle contains two staff-led lectures and four student-led seminars. The first week of each cycle will involve an initial collaborative session where you first encounter the problem set and decide in your group what knowledge each member needs to acquire in order to construct a meaningful response to it. This is followed by a lecture on a given topic in languages or linguistics to support your learning, and a second seminar where your group reviews and finalises your ‘research plan’ for the following week. The second week will involve a feedback seminar when you and your peers collate your individual knowledge contributions. You will then have a lecture on a particular academic skill, followed by a final seminar in which you formulate a draft response to the problem set (e.g. in the shape of a report or oral presentation).


Task Length % of module mark
Reflective portfolio (individual)
N/A 60
Task portfolio (group based)
N/A 40

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
Reassessment task
N/A 100

Module feedback

Students will receive written feedback on their formative assessments by the end of each submission week.

Students will receive written feedback on their summative assessments within the feedback turnaround time of 25 days.

Indicative reading


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.