Weekly study3 hours
Understanding Language: Learning and Teaching
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Understand key concepts in the effective teaching and learning of languages.
What is language? How do we learn meaning in a new language? What is easy and hard about learning another language? And what is the best way to teach other languages?
This free online course suggests some answers to these questions. It has been developed by the University of Southampton and the British Council, and draws on their work together producing a joint online MA in English Language Teaching.
The course takes place over four weeks. It will introduce you to some of the latest ideas in research and practice in language learning and teaching. We will:
- Explore second language learning and what it means to learn language
- Consider language classrooms and how teaching affects our language learning
- Look at the use of technology in teaching, and its benefits and challenges for language learning
- Investigate the case of English - the most widely learnt and taught language in the world - asking how it has achieved this position
- Update you on the latest research into the use of English and give you a taste of what it is like to be a researcher in Global English.
You will also have the opportunity to take part in a live research project by telling us about language policies and practices where you are.
The course includes quizzes, activities, discussions and videos filmed around the world. The videos feature experts such as British Council teachers, and staff and students at the University of Southampton.
During the course, you will hear different voices sharing their ideas and opinions – and we want to hear yours too. How do you use language in YOUR life? What is YOUR experience of language learning and teaching? Join us – to discuss effective language learning and teaching.
(Course Image ©ivosar/Shutterstock)
- 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.
Date to be announced
Learning on this course
You can take this self-guided course and learn at your own pace. On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.
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.
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.
The British Council builds connections, understanding and trust between people in the UK and other countries through arts and culture, education and the English language.
We work on the ground in more than 100 countries. In 2019-20 we connected with 80 million people directly and with 791 million people overall, including online and through our broadcasts and publications.
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