What you will study
This module explores the role of the English language in a tumultuous early twenty-first-century world characterised by global power shifts, grassroots protests, pandemic, and complex population flows. You’ll start by exploring how English, the language of a small island off the mainland of Europe, became the pre-eminent international language of the modern period. You’ll see how English changed as it spread to other countries through colonialism, and consider the impact that it has had on societies, cultures and other languages around the world. You’ll explore how the English language continues to be shaped by a growing number of users in a range of everyday settings from home to education and work, and the important role that it plays in contemporary political issues.
A major aim of the module is to enable you to observe and account for how language varies between individuals and also in different institutional, cultural and national settings. You’ll examine examples of speech and writing from a variety of global contexts and genres, including literature, poetry, song, film, political speeches and advertising. You’ll also be guided to notice and collect examples of language use around you, and to put together your own portfolio of English in your world, enabling you to connect your own experiences of language with the wider global context. This focus will enable you to develop further as an effective communicator in your personal and professional life.
You’ll watch and listen to specially recorded material from countries where English is the majority language such as the UK and USA, and in countries where it exists alongside one or more other languages, such as India and South Africa. You will also explore the growing use of English as a foreign language in countries such as China and the Arab world. The choice of English in multilingual contexts from education and business to films and popular music will exemplify the significance and power of the language in social, cultural, and economic life. The social and economic opportunities opened up by English, and the implications for those people who don’t have access to the language, are critically examined.
The module is divided into four blocks of study with the following themes:
1. Histories of English traces the development of English from the fifth century to the early decades of the twenty-first, highlighting its links with colonialism and focusing on the role that people, cultures and technologies have played in the spread of English.
2. Diversities of English focuses on the variety of contemporary English in the UK and around the world, exploring both the benefits of diversity and its implication in discrimination.
3. Everyday English explores the use of varieties of English by children and adults in social, educational and work-based contexts around the world, probing how people both follow and flout language rules
4. English and Politics explores the contemporary role of the English language in global issues ranging from migration and political protest to attempts to ‘decolonise’ the curriculum.
You’ll use a dedicated website with online material which includes activities and audio visual resources gathered on location in Africa, Asia and Europe, and through online video conferencing. The website is accompanied by four module books with chapters on each topic. These materials illustrate the diversity of English language practices across the globe and are designed to develop your knowledge and understanding of key terms and concepts in English language studies. A specially-written language description book will introduce you to the basics of language analysis, which can then be practised using the accompanying interactive online materials. An academic and digital literacies strand running throughout the module will help you prepare for your assignments and teach you important transferable skills. You’ll also be guided to develop as an autonomous learner, with reflection and independent study activities suggested for each unit.
You will learn
By studying this module, you’ll gain:
- an understanding of the history and development of English, and its contemporary role alongside other languages in a globalised world
- a critical appreciation of contemporary uses of English in conjunction with other modes of communication in a range of social, cultural, political and educational contexts
- conceptual frameworks for the study of linguistic phenomena in a range of global contexts
- key linguistic tools and terminologies for the analysis and evaluation of spoken, written and digital texts, including your own collected examples
- an ability to construct your own arguments, supported by evidence
- a perspective on your own English language experiences, including developing aspects of your own communication skills.
This module may be of interest to students who plan to go on to qualify as teachers.