This long-established course is aimed at teachers of second and foreign languages. The discipline of applied linguistics investigates a range of issues around language in contemporary society. Among these, the most prominent issues – and the central topics of the M.Phil. in Applied Linguistics – are those surrounding second and foreign language education. It is often said that globalisation has made the learning of additional languages an essential goal in education, but in truth, language learning has been important in most places at most times. In spite of this, language education in its various aspects was under-researched until the 1960s, so that applied linguistics is a relatively young, but increasingly important field.
There are two central strands in the applied linguistics of language teaching and learning. One, usually called second language acquisition, investigates the psychology of language learning, which is a phenomenon that is not confined to the classroom or other instructed contexts. The other, second language pedagogy, focuses on instruction at various different scales: language education policy, curriculum, teaching methods, and learning tasks. Given this educational focus, applied linguistics draws not only on linguistics, but also on educational psychology, educational philosophy, social psychology, and cognitive psychology, among other disciplines.
Students need not have any background in linguistics or applied linguistics. They are normally expected to have language teaching experience. Indeed, many of our students have been practising teachers who wish to expand their career horizons by deeper study of the current state of the art in language education. In particular, CLCS has from the start been closely involved with the development of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) and the associated European Language Portfolio, and the rationale for and practical use of these increasingly important tools are a recurring theme in the course.
Our alumni have followed various career paths in language education and other language professions, with many opting to pursue research at a higher level through the Ph.D., here in CLCS or elsewhere. For some, Ph.D. research has led to professional academic employment.