English as a Lingua Franca: Changing Language Practices

ORGANISER: Department of Modern Languages, University of Helsinki Related Degree Programmes:

  • Master’s Programme in English Studies
  • Master’s Programme in Linguistic Diversity in the Digital Age

DATES: 8.-24.8.2017 PRICES: 850-1400 EUR CREDITS: 5 ECTS COORDINATOR: Dr Svetlana Vetchinnikova

Target Students

The course is suitable for students at Master’s and Doctoral levels as well as language professionals who have an interest in English studies or applied linguistics.


English has become a global language of intercultural communication and is used worldwide as a contact language between people who do not share a common native language. Non-native speakers of English are increasingly using the language with each other in areas such as academia, business, diplomacy, sport and personal relationships. How does this new sociolinguistic situation develop and how does it affect language practices? Following Mauranen (2012), this course examines the phenomenon of English as a lingua franca (ELF) from three different but interrelated perspectives: cognitive, microsocial and macrosocial. We will start by looking at the linguistic features of ELF and thinking how cognitive properties of multilingual processing can explain them. Moving on to the microsocial perspective, the students will get a chance to observe ELF interaction in the private sphere, paying special attention to misunderstandings and pre-empting them as well as multilingual practices. At the macrosocial level, we will deal with such issues as language ideologies, linguistic imperialism and language ownership. Exploring a very recent concept of ‘translanguaging’, we will discuss the complex and fluid ways in which people use multiple languages, including English, in international communication, and especially in higher education. We will continue by considering the ways speakers monitor and intervene in their own or each other’s language use in ELF interaction/writing, and conclude by taking an applied perspective on ELF and looking at its practical implications for teaching and assessment, among other professional fields. Each lecture topic will be further developed with students in a collaborative workshop format. For more information on our research and resources, see the ELFA project webpages: http://www.helsinki.fi/elfa

Learning objectives

The students will get acquainted with the concept of ELF and its theoretical framework. They will think of the implications of the phenomenon of ELF for the future of English as well as its practical consequences, for example in the field of education. In addition, they will get hands-on experience of working with authentic linguistic data and applying different research methods, such as corpus linguistics, discourse analysis and conversation analysis.

Course format and teaching methods

The days in the course will be divided into morning and afternoon sessions. In the mornings, the students will listen to the lectures and in the afternoons, they will get a chance to apply their newly obtained knowledge in workshops or language labs. The interactive activities of the afternoons will include (group) discussions, group work, hands-on experience with corpus linguistic tools, mini-research studies in groups or individually on a computer, exercises and tasks. We will also use snippets of real research data at our workshops to provide authentic academic experience.

Means and criteria of assessment

Pass/fail on the basis of attendance, active participation, individual project work (case studies), final project presentation. In the individual project, each participant will carry out a small research project of their own choice, with the following components: – a written summary of the project (1000-1500 words) to be handed in on Friday, 18.8. Each participant will get feedback and suggestions from the instructors on Monday, 21.8. -a presentation of the project during the last meeting on Thursday, 24.8. More details of the individual project will be discussed during the first meetings, including suggestions for topics and data that might be used.

Program taught in:
  • English

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17 days
850 EUR
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