Skip to main content

Unit information: Expanding notions of Language in 2021/22

Unit name Expanding notions of Language
Unit code EDUCM0091
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Sharples
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Education
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law

Description including Unit Aims

The unit sets out approaches to the description of language in the New Literacy Studies, ethnography of communication, discourse analysis tradition, looking both at the technical ways of representing language texts, practices, discourse, and also at the cultural and contextual aspects of language use: the ways in which discourse achieves coherence. The approach to language therefore, is essentially a discourse one, but with an acknowledgement that although linguistic features are quite dominant, there are other modes of expression and representation that play a role in language development.

This approach has two key features: (1) Texts (instances of language in use, both spoken, written, and multimodal) are viewed as fulfilling certain functions in social and cultural contexts of language learning and teaching; and (2) Those communicative functions are realised in language forms which are part of grammatical, lexical and phonological systems of the language. The unit engages with the different traditions in language description which underpin processes in TESOL and in language education more generally such as syllabus and task design, learning materials, and language assessment.

The unit aims to:

  • develop an understanding of language description and discourse and multimodal analysis which facilitates a critical appraisal of approaches to language in the TESOL curriculum;
  • introduce frameworks for researching TESOL; and
  • provide opportunities for problem-solving and innovation in TESOL pedagogy and assessment
  • expand your repertoires of theories and orientations to TESOL

Intended Learning Outcomes

By the end of this unit, students will:

1. Be able to describe and interpret the nature of discourse and the different traditions of analysing it;

2. Critically understand the components of discourse, such as culture and pragmatics, multimodal, grammar, and composition;

3. Interpret different approaches to discourse and how they inform the TESOL curriculum;

4. Have a deeper understanding of the role of social context and varied communicational channels in determining discourse forms and choices in spoken and written English;

5. Be able to articulate the nature and challenges of intercultural communication as an implicit aspect of TESOL, and as an aspect of personal development as a language user in the context of the MSc TESOL.

By the end of this unit, students will have developed skills in:

6. Using discourse analysis and language description frameworks as a tool for TESOL in the following ways: Identification of functional and formal features of texts (instances of language in use) used in TESOL and the relationships between these; Selecting and evaluating texts and tasks for learning and assessment; Determining the facility or difficulty of texts in learning contexts

7. Using discourse analysis and language description frameworks as a research tool in the TESOL field in the following ways: Researching classrooms and other interactional contexts; Analysing the content and form of documents and texts; Development of discourse skills appropriate for language use in an academic context

Teaching Information

  • Lecture input
  • Online learning support (Blackboard)
  • Data Projects (online resources, using data from Tutors' Research Projects)
  • Presentations,
  • Small group work,
  • Seminars or workshops,
  • Action research,
  • Simulations,
  • Individual tutorials and supported self study.
  • Individualised and supervised studies to include on-line discussion, supervision and directed reading.

Assessment Information

A 4000 word assignment on the application of a discourse-multimodal analytical framework to a sample of written, spoken or multimodal ‘text’. Drawing on the relevant literature, the assignment will reflect critically on the significance of the findings of the analysis for the field of TESOL/applied linguistics. ILO 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 (100%)


If this unit has a Resource List, you will normally find a link to it in the Blackboard area for the unit. Sometimes there will be a separate link for each weekly topic.

If you are unable to access a list through Blackboard, you can also find it via the Resource Lists homepage. Search for the list by the unit name or code (e.g. EDUCM0091).

How much time the unit requires
Each credit equates to 10 hours of total student input. For example a 20 credit unit will take you 200 hours of study to complete. Your total learning time is made up of contact time, directed learning tasks, independent learning and assessment activity.

See the Faculty workload statement relating to this unit for more information.

The Board of Examiners will consider all cases where students have failed or not completed the assessments required for credit. The Board considers each student's outcomes across all the units which contribute to each year's programme of study. If you have self-certificated your absence from an assessment, you will normally be required to complete it the next time it runs (this is usually in the next assessment period).
The Board of Examiners will take into account any extenuating circumstances and operates within the Regulations and Code of Practice for Taught Programmes.