module specification

LN7062 - Patterns in Global Sociolinguistics (2017/18)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2017/18
Module title Patterns in Global Sociolinguistics
Module level Masters (07)
Credit rating for module 20
School Guildhall School of Business and Law
Total study hours 200
164 hours Guided independent study
36 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 100%   Essay
Running in 2017/18
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Autumn semester North Tuesday Afternoon

Module summary

This module is designed to equip students with a critical and informed understanding of the complex ways in which language and languages are configured in societies around the world. It takes a broadly synchronic approach to the issues involved, though historical examples are also looked at in order to provide context. The scope of the module is global. Students are encouraged to think critically about the sociolinguistic patterns of their own country and speech community, and to reflect upon how these have come about. Students are encouraged throughout to become active sociolinguistic observers and researchers as they go about their daily lives, using the linguistic diversity of London or the linguistic diversity of their own context.

Prior learning requirements


Module aims

The module aims to develop students’ professional capacities as language teachers by providing a rich, structured macro-level account of how language works in societies. A key assumption informing this aim is that students who have perhaps tended to think of themselves narrowly as ‘English teachers’ should be encouraged to develop into ‘language experts’. Specifically, students should be enabled to:

1 – Become aware of the patterns and principles which underlie language use, language choice, language planning, language attitudes and language policy.

2 – Use confidently and productively, with the ownership appropriate to postgraduate level, the core terminology and theoretical frameworks of sociolinguistics.

3 – Take a critical, informed view of issues surrounding the use and teaching of English worldwide, set in a rigorous and theorised framework of understanding of general language issues worldwide.

4 – Reflect critically upon matters of language and language education within their own society, and begin to develop substantive responses to the problems involved therein.


Areas to be covered include the following:

- London: languages, linguistic communities and language patterns in the Global City.

- The sociolinguistic background (1): Standards, dialects, accents, regional varieties.

- The sociolinguistic background (2): individual and societal bilingualism, diglossia and code-switching.

- Language socialization across communities.
- Language change mechanisms: How languages spread, shift, change, grow and die.

- The ownership of language(s): Language academies and normalisation; language planning: corpus,     status and acquisition planning. 

- Speech variation: the meanings and functions of discourse markers in everyday speech;their relationship to issues of e.g. power, politeness and gender.

- Languages in conflict. Language, identity and the nation state

- Is English different? The position of English (and the position of other languages) at the beginning of the 21st century.

Learning and teaching

Lectures followed by small-group seminars. For the seminars, students are required to read one or two readings each week, and these are made available (along with a variety of other, optional readings and other resources) on WebLearn. Each week one or two students are asked to talk about the set reading(s) and introduce a group discussion by way of a series of questions. Students are encouraged to set up sociolinguistics-related discussions on WebLearn,

For the Distance Learning module, there is the workbook, and interactions and discussions on WebLearn. Students will receive the same theoretical input through bespoke on-line module materials with access to an allocated tutor who is available to support them either face-to-face, by e-mail or by telephone.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module students will be able to:

1 – Look beyond the lay discourse which surrounds matters of language and language use and identify and analyse the social patterns and social pressures which typically underlie such discourse.

2 – Use the technical vocabulary of the field of sociolinguistics, at a level appropriate to a specialist applied linguist, in order to describe and analyse patterns of language use in a range of national contexts.

3 – Contribute confidently and at an advanced level, in an informed and critical way, to the debate surrounding the cultural, political and linguistic implications of the spread of English, and to discussion of language and language education worldwide.

4 – Situate themselves within their own professional environment (school, university etc.)  as applied linguists and language specialists, and use this wider context to contribute productively to the debates and discussions taking place in that context.

Assessment strategy

Assessment is in the form of an essay. A list of suggested questions is provided; however, if students find that they have developed an interest, they may choose to write about this with the agreement of the module leader.



Bhatia, T & Ritchie, W (eds) (2006): The Handbook of Bilingualism.  Oxford : Blackwell.

Edwards, John (1994): Multilingualism. Penguin.

Edwards, J (2010): Language and Identity. CUP.

Fishman, J (1989): Language and Ethnicity in Minority Sociolinguistic Perspective. Multilingual Matters.

Fishman, J (2001) (ed): Can Threatened Languages be Saved? : Reversing Language Shift, Revisited : a 21st Century Perspective. Multilingual Matters.

Hall, J & Eggington, W (eds) (2000): The Sociopolitics of English Language Teaching. Multilingual Matters.

Kachru, B, Kachru, Y & Nelson, C (eds) (2006): The Handbook of World Englishes. Blackwell. 

Ostler, N (2005): Empires of the Word: a Language History of the World. Harper Collins.

Ramanathan, V (2005): The English-Vernacular Divide: Postcolonial Language Politics and Practice. Multilingual Matters.

Wardhaugh, R (2010): An Introduction to Sociolinguistics (6th edition). Wiley-Blackwell.

Selected Journals (most available online)

Language and Society
Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development
Language Awareness
International Journal of the Sociology of Language