English Language Distance Learning Modules


Corpus Linguistics

This module considers a number of issues in corpus linguistics, including: 

  • The compilation of a corpus
  • The information to be gained from concordance lines and collocational information, and how this can be interpreted
  • The implications for theories of language of observations made from a corpus
  • Contrasting approaches to corpora, and the theoretical assumptions behind each
  • Current applications of corpora, mainly language teaching and/or translation, but also stylistics, ideology and forensic linguistics
  • Possible future directions in corpus linguistics.

Assessment: 4,000-word essay, analysis or research project report

English Language Teaching Management

This module examines issues of innovation and change in English Language Teaching (ELT) management, including managing change, teacher development and the design and evaluation of teacher training programmes. It introduces you to the inherent complexity of change and isolates some general characteristics that seem important in all types of change, though their application will vary according to context. This module also looks at strategies of change and the importance of culture in change, and focusses upon the importance that change has to the survival of an institution. Additionally we consider teacher training within an educational context, because teachers will be key implementers (or even instigators) of change, so the role of teacher training in innovation is central.

Assessment: 4,000-word essay

Functional Grammar

This module introduces the principles of systemic functional grammar and analysis of text from a systemic perspective, as a means of revealing the meaning, communicative functionality and rhetorical purposes of language. Various applications of this approach to linguistics are considered.

Assessment: 4,000-word essay, analysis or research project report

Language and New Media

Since the end of the twentieth century, New Media has transformed our lives and the way we communicate. Not only has the internet and text messaging impacted on the language we use – for example in the form of ‘txtspk’ – but digital technologies also shape how we interact with those around us, as well as allowing ‘globally-dispersed’ communities to form as people online rally around shared interests, political causes and common goals. 

However, for many people – teachers, parents, community leaders – new communications technology also sparks serious concerns and raises troubling questions. Should we worry about ‘txtspk’ and the effect it has on children’s literacy? What impact is the internet having on traditional community networks and our sense of the social? How are Wikipedia, websites and blogs altering notions of authority and what it means to be an author? And is the internet bolstering the global dominance of English at the expense of minority languages? 

This module looks at how these public fears can be addressed using tools and theories of applied linguistics, through their application in seminars to naturally-occurring online texts. It explores, for example, the principles and patterns behind unconventional online spellings, the use and significance of multimodal resources, what it means to be literate in an online, connected world, and the nature and function of online social networks. It also asks how online data can be collected and exploited, and whether existing frameworks of analysis can unproblematically be transferred online. 

By the end of this module, you will have studied a range of current online contexts – from websites and wikis to texting and Twitter - and will be equipped to consider the implications and issues that arise within the rapidly-changing virtual world.

Assessment: 4,000-word essay

Language Teaching Methodology

This module gives an overview of the development of, and current approaches to, English Language Teaching (ELT) methodology, including the teaching of grammar, reading, writing, speaking and listening. The module also includes a practical introduction to classroom-based research.

The primary intention is to introduce you to a wide range of ideas, which will allow you to reflect on your own teaching experience. At the same time, in covering such a large area, the module also lays down the groundwork for a number of other modules which you will go onto study as part of this programme.

Assessment: 4,000-word essay

Language Testing

This module considers the purpose of language testing and aims to provoke some thoughts on the subject of measurement. It will cover the principles of testing, including testing terminology and some elementary statistics in order to equip participants with the critical skills necessary for the evaluation of language tests and, more generally, claims made in research articles based on statistical analysis of data.

Topics covered include: 

  • What tests are and why we need them
  • What constitutes a valid and efficient test
  • Testing the skills of reading and writing
  • Different measures of correlation
  • Understanding and evaluating related to testing.
Assessment: 4,000-word essay

Multimodal Communication

This module provides an overview of the major issues in the area of Multimodal Communication. Particular reference will be made to current theories that take into consideration a diversity of communicative modes – language, image, music, sound and gesture – and to how these theories relate to the concerns of teachers and researchers in Applied Linguistics. Gesture and body language, for example, are discussed in relation to spoken discourse, and photography, visual design, colour, typography and layout are considered in relation to written discourse. The module also discusses the multiple and mixed modes of communication afforded by current computer technologies.

Assessment: 4,000-word essay

Pedagogic Grammar

This module covers the main theoretical concepts and research findings underlying the description of the grammar of the English Language and the implication these have for the teaching of grammar in the classroom. 

In this module, you will consider:

  • Prescriptive and descriptive grammars
  • Research into the benefits of teaching grammar explicitly
  • How the methodologies we employ influence the way we teach grammar
  • How grammar is represented in the language syllabus
  • The debate relating to the use of authentic texts in language teaching
  • The nature of spoken English and how its grammar differs of that of written English.

Assessment: 4,000-word essay


This module explores the psychology of language, including such questions as: How do children and second language learners acquire language? How is language comprehended, and how is it produced? What role does metaphor play in thinking? Does gesturing with one’s hands help us to think and speak? How did language evolve? And many more.

Psycholinguistics is an exciting interdisciplinary endeavour that straddles the boundary of linguistics, psychology, cognitive science, neuroscience, and other fields. It spans all subareas of linguistics, including syntax, semantics, pragmatics, phonetics, and more.

In this module we will be examining the psycholinguistics of words, language comprehension and speech perception, language acquisition, gesture and metaphor, linguistic relativity and language evolution.

Assessment: Choice of 10 assignments, some of which are questions which require a 4,000 word essay, whilst others are more practical research projects which involves a 3,500 word paper, plus data collection

Second Language Acquisition

This module introduces the main theoretical concepts and research findings underlying second language acquisition and the implication these have for classroom practice. It covers some of the key theories regarding how people think languages are learnt and by extension how they are best taught. It explores the ways and the extent to which these theories will apply to your own and other teaching situations. The later parts of the module consider issues associated with the complex nature of the classroom environment and how that influences learning and also learner characteristics, learning styles and strategies, etc., all of which influence the way in which languages are learnt.

Assessment: 4,000-word essay

Spoken and Written Discourse

This module provides an introduction to key concepts in spoken and written discourse, techniques of analysis, and pedagogic applications of these. The module will enable you to discuss the differences between spoken and written discourse, and those between language use inside the classroom and that in the world outside. You will also be able to analyse and describe spoken and classroom discourse and textual patterns which occur frequently in English, and critically assess the relevance of text and discourse analysis to language teaching. Ultimately, the module will enable you to apply techniques of discourse analysis appropriately to your own pedagogic practice. 

Assessment: 4,000-word essay

Syllabus and Materials Design

This module considers the problem of reconciling syllabus and materials design with what is known about the process of language learning and examines the attempts that established approaches to syllabus design have made to solve this problem. The module goes on to propose a more radical solution involving the establishment of a pedagogic corpus, the use of task-based methodology, and the development of analytical exercises.

This is a very practical module designed for practising teachers. It demonstrates that a syllabus is a lot more than simply a list of items at the start of a handbook. 

The module introduces you to a variety of different types of syllabus such as the traditional grammatical syllabus, the lexical syllabus, the functional-notional syllabus, and the task-based syllabus. You are encouraged to look at a range of teaching situations and consider how different type of syllabus can be used to meet the needs of different types of language learner. The later parts of the module look at materials development, evaluating material and how to adapt course books so the content is ‘lifted off the page’.

Assessment: 4,000-word essay

Teaching Language to Young Learners

This module is designed to introduce you to the various considerations that need to be taken into account when teaching languages to young learners. The content deals with a range of theoretical and practical aspects, including:

  • What is a young learner?
  • Language in the young learner classroom
  • Focus on literacy: reading and writing
  • Teaching grammar and lexis
  • Materials and resources
  • Classroom management
  • Young learner assessment
  • Course-books and syllabus
  • Teaching young learners with special needs.

The module refers specifically to teaching English to young language learners, but much of the content is also applicable to other contexts where students might be teaching other languages to children.

Assessment: 4,000-word essay