• University of Southampton
  • British Council

Understanding Language: Learning and Teaching

Discover the best way to learn a language and get an introduction to the most effective methods for teaching languages.

Understanding Language: Learning and Teaching
  • Duration4 weeks
  • Weekly study3 hours

Explore key concepts of teaching and learning languages, and how to apply them

What is language? What is the best way to learn a language? How do we teach languages?

On this course, you’ll tackle these questions and more, as you build your understanding of language. You’ll discover some of the latest ideas and techniques in the field of language teaching, including the importance of English as a global language, and new language learning technologies.

These skills will be extremely useful for anyone looking to teach English online.

You’ll also explore the difference between online and face-to-face learning, and consider the changing roles of teachers and learners.

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What topics will you cover?

  • The nature of language and language learning including discussion of what is hard and easy in second language acquisition
  • Language teaching in the classroom including consideration of classrooms as communities of practice and theories about effective classroom pedagogy
  • Consideration of two case studies in current teaching practice: task-based language teaching (TBLT) and content and language integrated learning (CLIL)
  • Technology in language learning and teaching and the changing role of teacher and learner
  • Online versus face-to-face language learning
  • The use of English as a global language or lingua franca
  • The historical spread of English and implications for language policy and teaching
  • Definitions of English as a lingua franca (ELF), the scale of ELF use and its pros and cons
  • Exploration of the work of Global Englishes researchers and invitation to join in with a research project.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Reflect on the nature of language acquisition, and your personal place in that spectrum
  • Identify ideas around the notion of ‘meaning’ in second language acquisition, and how we convey/appreciate meaning
  • Explore aspects of what is hard and what is easy in second language acquisition
  • Discuss the nature and diversity of language learning classrooms and how this might impact on the teaching and learning of languages
  • Develop an awareness of some current approaches to language teaching in the classroom
  • Engage with other learners' experiences of language teaching and learning
  • Evaluate how online learning and teaching differs from face-to-face teaching
  • Develop an understanding of how technology can support the learning and teaching of languages
  • Identify some key skills in the moderation of online language courses
  • Assess the use of social media in language learning and teaching
  • Reflect upon the use of English as a global lingua franca and how it fits with their own language context
  • Develop an understanding of the social and political factors involved in the historical and current spread of English
  • Debate the implications of the impact of global English for language policy and teaching

Who is the course for?

This course is aimed at graduates with an interest in the development of languages and language teaching. It will give you a taste of postgraduate study in the field of English language teaching and will be particularly useful for anyone looking to teach English online.

What software or tools do you need?

No prior knowledge is required to take part in the course and we welcome anyone who is curious to know more about language learning and teaching.

Who will you learn with?

I work for the British Council supporting teachers to develop their skills in English language teaching globally.

Lead Educator on the Understanding Language: Learning and Teaching course.

Lecturer in Spanish and Linguistics, based in Modern Languages at the University of Southampton.

Who developed the course?

University of Southampton

Southampton is a place for ambitious people keen to stretch their intellectual abilities and help change the world.

British Council

The British Council is on the ground in six continents and over 100 countries connecting the best of UK culture with a global audience and providing high-quality English language courses.

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