module specification

LN7006 - Linguistics and Language Teaching: the Description of Language and its Pedagogic Applications (2022/23)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2022/23
Module title Linguistics and Language Teaching: the Description of Language and its Pedagogic Applications
Module level Masters (07)
Credit rating for module 20
School Guildhall School of Business and Law
Total study hours 200
36 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
144 hours Guided independent study
20 hours Assessment Preparation / Delivery
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Oral Examination 40%   Individual Presentation of 10 minutes + Q&A
Coursework 60%   Written coursework of 2,000 words (see above)
Running in 2022/23

(Please note that module timeslots are subject to change)
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Autumn semester North Wednesday Afternoon

Module summary

This module is intended to familiarise – or refamiliarise – you with key areas of linguistic analysis such as typology, phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, pragmatics and corpus linguistics. The areas are introduced contrastively, and you will be invited to compare with equivalent phenomena in your or your students’ languages, including cultural differences in realising speech acts. The module makes reference to different language teaching approaches and their very different stances on the usefulness (or lack thereof) of explicit teacher and student knowledge of linguistics. You will develop an in-depth understanding of how knowledge of the different make-ups of languages allows you to predict problems encountered by your students in learning English. You will have the opportunity to develop learning and teaching resources which will address particular problems of your students that derive from contrasts between your students’ first or main language(s) and English. You will also be invited to reflect critically on the language teaching choices in your particular institutional context, on the expectations of your students, and on your journey as a language teacher.

In this module, you will

  • raise your language awareness
  • deepen your understanding of the make-up of English
  • contrast English with your and/or your students’ first or main language(s)
  • develop tools to investigate the make-up of languages
  • reflect on your language teaching approaches and develop learning and teaching materials that address selected problems caused by the structure of your students’ first or main language(s)
  • reflect on the extent to which knowledge of linguistics can help language teachers to gain a better understanding of their students’ learning and to help them in their teaching

Prior learning requirements



The Introduction serves to establish students’ pre-knowledge of linguistics by confronting them with key concepts from the module topics. It lays out the topography of the module and encourages them to read one of the recommended introductory textbooks on linguistics (LO1, LO4). This is followed by three programmatic sessions which introduce concepts that might be new to students.

The first programmatic session is on Language Awareness both as a teacher resource and a teaching tool (LO3). Language Awareness puts attention to form on the agenda again after the rejection of explicit grammar teaching by at least some versions of the Communicative Approach. Language Awareness runs like a red threat through the module as the aim of each session (e.g. typological awareness, morphological awareness, etc.). Through these sessions, students will understand that the expectation is not that they become linguists (although some will), but rather that they can apply core concepts from each module topic to language material and teaching situations (LO1).

The second programmatic session is on Language Typology in the Greenbergian (empirical) tradition. It introduces morphological and syntactic classifications of languages. For each classification, students are invited to contribute with examples (LO1) and speculate on the particular difficulties that speakers of these languages might encounter in learning English (LO2, LO3). English is shown to be a mixed type of language with many isolating traits as a result of its history. Innovations such as obligatory aspect and exotic traits such as preposition stranding are mentioned (LO1), and again their difficulty for learners is discussed drawing on the learning and teaching experiences of the students (LO2, LO3).

The third programmatic session is on the Lexicon and the Lexical Approach. This session builds on a paradigm change in linguistic description and sees language as ‘grammaticalised lexis’ rather than ‘lexified grammar’ (Michael Lewis). It expands the word notion to multi-word expressions (collocations, chunks, idioms) that might be subject to construction outside the usual compositional rules (e.g. by and large) (LO1) and invites students to reflect on whether the important topic of prefabricated language is given an adequate place in their learning and teaching (LO3, LO5).

The remainder of the module follows the expected template of an introduction to linguistics (i.e., introducing Phonetics and Phonology, Morphology, Syntax and Pragmatics), but each topic is treated contrastively and with reference to the programmatic sessions (LO1, LO2). For instance, morphological awareness is emphasised as a tool for students to discover new words by understanding parts of them (LO3); syntax is linked with typology; the limits of compositionality are linked with the Lexical Approach (LO1, LO3); and pragmatics is linked with the constructive view of the social world and with intercultural awareness (LO1, LO3).

The module is rounded off by a session on Corpus Linguistics with corpora as a research tool that has revolutionised linguistics, but also as a tool for students and teachers to check for usage and explore collocations and chunks (LO1, LO3, LO4).

The module encourages critical engagement of students with the usefulness of linguistics in language teaching. It invites students to explore common misconceptions of language about the relationship between spoken and written language, between dialects and standard languages, the status of rules (including prescriptive rules), the nature of language change, and the evaluation of linguistic complexity (LO1). In relation to language teaching approaches, it encourages reflection, openness, and an eclectic approach, using whatever works in a particular context (LO5).

Balance of independent study and scheduled teaching activity

Each session features an interactive session and a task-based group activity. To work on these tasks, students are split into groups with an opportunity to report the findings to the plenary. In addition, there is a textbook-style chapter on each session on WebLearn, inviting students to answer questions on the Discussion Board. The general learning approach is bottom-up, from text samples to generalisations, and encourages self-study, reflection on students’ language learning and teaching experiences as well as on institutional ramifications of teachers choosing different approaches.

The Weblearn site for this module offers rich materials and also houses class recordings, thus encouraging independent study.

The contrastive approach adopted in the sessions gives ample opportunity to reflect on the make-ups of languages. Students can explain how individual speech acts are done in their language(s) and how this is different from English. The module concepts give them the opportunity to identify structural and typological differences between their or their students’ first or main language(s) and English and thus better understand the sources of linguistic interference in learning English. Students are encouraged to identify these contrasts using appropriate terminology and evaluating their importance. Students are also given opportunities to formulate their ideas on language, and these are juxtaposed with the often very different findings from linguistics, including recent findings from linguistic typology.

Self-study skills, desk-based research, critical reflection, and intercultural competence are essential for succeeding in this module.

Learning outcomes

Upon successful completion of this module, students will be enabled to:

  1. Use concepts and analytic tools of at least two areas of linguistics with confidence (LO1)
  2. Identify and understand L1 interference on learning English (LO2)
  3. Understand and apply theories of L2 acquisition and language teaching (LO3)
  4. Deepen their understanding of the structure and use of English (LO4)
  5. Apply their understanding of linguistics to the teaching of English in their particular context (LO5)

Assessment strategy

The module is assessed using an individual presentation and an individual essay. The strategy was chosen to allow students to demonstrate learning outcomes in two different modes requiring slightly different generic skills. Including the spoken word in assessment is apt for a module that emphasises the primacy of spoken language over written. Also, feedback on the first assessment can inform students on how to approach their second assignment. Lastly, as the first assignment is submitted within the first 8 weeks of the module, it works as motivation from the start and avoids backloading of assessment.

The two assessments are in detail:
a 10-minute individual presentation (followed by Q & A) on a topic of interest to the student from one of the areas of linguistics covered in the module. The presentation should explain the linguistics of the topic (using the meta-language of applied linguistics), the relevance of the topic to language teaching in their particular context (possibly citing contrastive data), and how difficulties of learners in relation to the topic can be addressed in a concrete classroom task. The presentation must be based on relevant academic reading rather than just teaching experience. It is accompanied by a 300-word handout and students are encouraged to use visual means such as PowerPoint and a short interaction with the audience. The presentation is delivered in class. Assessment takes into consideration both academic content and delivery (e.g., fluency and clarity, keeping attention, adhering to time).
a 2,000-word piece of written coursework on a topic of interest to the student from one of the areas of linguistics covered in the module. The area must be different from that chosen for the presentation. There are three choices: 

1) Linguistic Comparison of an area of English with the corresponding area of a language with which they or their students are familiar and implications of the contrasts for language teaching

2) Linguistics in the Classroom: Description and analysis of one or more classroom incidents that the student has witnessed where knowledge of linguistics would have been desirable 

3) Analysing Communication: Transcription and analysis of an unscripted conversation or discussion (e.g., TV/Radio discussion) and line by line comment on salient linguistic, paralinguistic (if appropriate), pragmatics and discourse-level features

Both assessments require students to engage with linguistic concepts (LO1) and specialist publications (LO4). Students will identify linguistic interference (LO2) (presentation and choices 1 and 2 of the written task), work out the relevance of their topic to language teaching (LO3) and include a concrete language teaching task (LO5) (presentation and written assignment).