660 Sociolinguistics & Second Languages

This course introduces foundational concepts, findings, and research methods in sociolinguistics as they relate to second and foreign language issues. Two questions we will revisit throughout the course are, 1) What is the role of regional and social variation in the teaching, learning, and use of second and foreign languages? and 2) How does our understanding of the social meanings produced in language inform language teaching, learning, and use? To begin to answer these questions, we will engage in extensive reading and discussions, a paired mock conference presentation, and a term paper. Course readings and lectures will examine sociolinguistics topics that are relevant to learning/teaching, such as the nature of linguistic variation in first/second language varieties (and implications for language teaching), language policy and language ideology, social identities (and constructions of gender, ethnicity, linguistic ability, and social class), the process of language socialization, power and privilege, and cross-cultural communication. You will also learn about some key methods in sociolinguistics, including ethnography, interactional sociolinguistics, and narrative analysis. Some questions we will investigate this semester are:

  • What is the nature of language variation (especially in terms of English as a global language), and how do L2 learners, teachers, and users respond to this variation?
  • How do multilingual people/L2 learners organize their languages in life in and beyond educational realms (the family, the workplace, the media)?
  • How are multilinguals and language learners socialized into new communities of practice, and how do transnational and international contexts offer new forms of socialization?
  • What role does identity play in language learning, language use, and language teaching?
  • How are social relations manifested in interaction among multilinguals and L2 learners and users?
  • How can applied linguists contribute to social justice for speakers who are marginalized?
  • What is cultural difference, and how can we research it?