MA in Applied Linguistics


Program Description

The course is offered with three options for delivery; on campus, blended or fully online. The course is aimed at experienced English Language Teachers and other English language professionals. Its main focus is on the use and teaching of the English language in a global context. This focus will address an international need for professional development, especially among teachers of English. The MA/Structured PhD in Applied Linguistics aims to provide a broad-based course of study in language description (language systems: grammar, lexis and phonology), theories of Applied Linguistics, theories of Second Language Acquisition, frameworks for the study of discourse, as well as specialist research skills for the empirical analysis of language in context. Typically, the course will run over three semesters. Semesters 1 and 2 will involve taught modules (lectures and activities). Semester 3 will be dedicated to the writing of a dissertation. The three semesters can be taken back-to-back in one calendar year using the summer period for the dissertation module (September – August). Alternatively, the course can be taken over one and a half years. Part-time options are also available. Each semester is structured into 12 weeks or units in which three modules are taken. Each module will involve ongoing assessment. This may involve a mixture of tasks such as quizzes, discussions, essays, oral presentations, etc. For those students opting for the blended and online delivery formats, the assessments will have online options for completion.

To summarise, the programme begins in September. There are options regarding programme delivery mode and duration to suit individual needs: Delivery options:

• On-campus: Traditional delivery format with on-campus, face to face lectures and tutorials • Blended: Combination of online and face to face delivery format • Online: Fully online delivery format using both pre-recorded and live webinars Time options: • Over one year: Full-time basis, from September 2016 to August 2017, using the summer period for the dissertation module • Over one and a half years: Full-time basis, September 2016 to December 2017, using the Autumn Semester for the dissertation module • Flexible part-time programme: Part-time basis, allowing students to undertake the course in a modular manner, accruing the required credits within 3 years Students exiting the programme, having successfully completed 60 ECTS, not including the dissertation (30 credits), can do so with a Graduate Diploma in Applied Linguistics (level 9 on the NQF).

Module outlines

Core Features of Language: grammar, vocabulary and phonology This module will explore the interrelationship of grammar, vocabulary (lexis) and phonology in the language system. It will describe the formal systems of English, examining the individual building blocks of lexis (e.g. morphemes, semantic relations), grammar (e.g. word classes, phrases, clauses, tenses, modality) and phonology (phonemes, intonation patterns, features of connected speech), and the ways in which these forms work together and are used to create meanings in context. It will also examine the notion of fixed multi-word units, both integrated and fragmented, which form lexicogrammatical patterns. There will be a strong focus on how grammar, vocabulary and phonology interplay with discourse and pragmatics.

Approaches to Language in Context This module will explore the importance of considering language in its cultural, social and interpersonal context of use and examine the factors that influence how we use language. It will consider the phenomenon of context in light of recent developments in spoken and written corpus linguistics. Language in context will be investigated through practical analytic tasks using authentic spoken and written discourse from a variety of different discourse contexts (e.g., family discourse, academic discourse, workplace discourse, etc.). In addition, structural approaches to exploring spoken language (e.g., the work of the Birmingham discourse analysts and conversation analysis) and approaches that can be applied to both spoken and written texts such as genre analysis will also be explored. This will facilitate both a top-down and bottom-up approach to language in context. The ‘new discourses’ of the digital age, such as blogs, wikis, Twitter and other electronic texts will also be explored.

Issues in Applied Linguistics This module introduces students to the key issues in Applied Linguistics and serves to provide students with a broad understanding of the concerns of Applied Linguistics. Models of language teaching will be critically appraised and dominant paradigms of second language acquisition will be evaluated. Notions of linguistic competence will be examined, including inter-cultural pragmatic competence in the context of cross-cultural and variational pragmatics. The module will also address multilingualism and language in a global context, including contemporary debates about teaching English as a Lingua Franca (ELF). Language assessment will also be a key theme, especially in terms of addressing notions of linguistic and discourse competency markers in testing spoken and written language. Within each area of the module, students will be introduced to a range of perspectives, allowing them critically evaluate different approaches and recognise the debates that currently occupy Applied Linguists.

Classroom and Learner Discourse The module focuses on the interactional structure of teacher and learner discourse, looking empirically at the interactions between teacher and learners and between learners (peer-to-peer). It seeks to develop understandings of the key interactional features and competencies of classroom discourse using analytical paradigms of conversation analysis and critical discourse analysis, underpinned by corpus linguistics methodological tools. The module also focuses on learners’ language in assessment (e.g. oral exams, essays, discussion fora, blogs, wikis) in the context of linguistic and interactional competencies. A key facet of the module will be to enable participants to transcribe, code and analyse empirical classroom and learner data so as to better understand this teaching and learning context and the linguistic and interactional competencies which it demands.

Research Methods in Applied Linguistics This module will equip students with essential research skills for analysing language empirically. The module is designed to provide students with the skills to both evaluate the research of others and undertake their own independent research in the area of Applied Linguistics. It will focus on the methodological paradigms and experimental designs typically used in Applied Linguistics, including both qualitative, quantitative and mixed methods approaches so that students can choose an appropriate methodology for a particular research question in a particular context of language use. The course will also cover practical methodological steps and procedures for research in Applied Linguistics, including the identification of a research question, finding sources for a literature review using appropriate databases, the practicalities of questionnaire design, speaker information sheets, recording protocols, transcription and coding procedures. The ethical issues that arise in research within applied Linguistics will also be discussed. The course will also focus on appropriate analytical frameworks for the analysis of quantitative and qualitative data from recordings, questionnaires or other empirical sources. By the end of this module, students should be able to write a research proposal suitable for a dissertation within the programme and be sufficiently competent to carry out the research project.

Corpus Linguistics and Language Teaching This module describe the applications of corpus linguistics to language teaching and research. Electronic language corpora, and their attendant computer software are proving increasingly influential in language teaching as sources of language description and pedagogical material. The module will explore the contribution of corpus linguistics to language learning and teaching and examine the opportunities offered by corpus linguistics to the learner and the teacher. The module will not only focus on how the teacher can use corpus linguistics in the classroom to create materials but also on how students can be encouraged to use corpora themselves. The limitations of using corpora in language teaching and the potential pitfalls arising from their uncritical use will also be discussed. The module will primarily refer to research, teaching materials and procedures relevant to English Language Teaching (ELT); however, it will also address issues related to language teaching in general.

Phonetics and Phonology This module will cover the core elements of phonetics and phonology. Students will address the distinction between phonetics and phonology. Specifically, in relation to phonetics, the module will focus on the physiology of speech, including the points and manner of articulation and the transcription of speech sounds, using International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA). In terms of phonology, it will examine the speech sound patterns, connected speech processes (such as assimilation, coalescence, elision, liaison) and the distinction between the segmental and suprasegmental features of speech. Core to this module is the contextualising of phonology in terms of discourse intonation in relation to lexis, grammar, discourse and pragmatics in spoken language.

Discourse and Pragmatics This module aims to extend student understanding of linguistic context through a focus on pragmatics. Core issues of concern in pragmatics such as deixis, implicature, politeness and speech act theory are outlined, discussed and evaluated critically. The module will also explore notions of universality by considering pragmatics from both inter- and cross-cultural viewpoints. Central to this module is the consideration of real and authentic data. Traditional data collection methods in pragmatics, such as discourse completion tests, role plays and interviews will be assessed. However, corpus pragmatics, a relatively recent development within the fields of corpus linguistics and pragmatics, will be the primary methodological framework. Corpus pragmatics allows for the interpretation of spoken or written meaning, with an emphasis on providing empirical evidence for this interpretation. Students will have the opportunity to evaluate the efficacy of the core pragmatic concerns on the basis of empirical investigations which they themselves will conduct.

Entry Qualifications

A minimum of two years’ experience in English Language Teaching (ELT) or Foreign Language Teaching, ELT publishing or translation, or related fields, plus a 2.2 honours degree, or higher; Alternatively, relevant prior experience in English Language Teaching (ELT) or Foreign Language Teaching, ELT publishing or translation, or related fields will be considered as a basis for entry on a case-by-case basis (acceptance under this criteria will be subject to an interview and in accordance with the University of Limerick Policy on Accredited Prior Learning). In the case of non-native speakers of English, an IELTS level 7 or equivalent will be required.

Last updated Jan 2020

About the School

Founded in 1898, Mary Immaculate College (MIC) is a Catholic College of Education and the Liberal Arts. The College offers a wide range of programmes in Education.

Founded in 1898, Mary Immaculate College (MIC) is a Catholic College of Education and the Liberal Arts. The College offers a wide range of programmes in Education. Read less