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English Language Centre

Undergraduate Study

The English Language Centre offers one credit bearing undergraduate module which is designed specifically for and only open to Erasmus and exchange students.

Everyday English Discourse (LANG2161)

This module is only available to exchange students whose mother tongue is not English. It is designed specifically for Erasmus Exchange students but is open to international students studying for Durham degrees with departmental agreement. Students must speak English to a level equivalent to IELTS 6.0 or above.

This is a course to help you increase your awareness of how native speakers of English use English. (The native speakers may be from any place where English is used as a first language.) We will focus on both everyday conversation and on other types of spoken interaction which take place in normal discourse, as well as on written texts, such as news articles, webpages and messages sent on social media. After considering communication generally, we will analyse some conversations, taking into account factors such as location, role, purpose and context of the exchange. We will also consider how speech changes at work, and how it may be affected by gender or power. When focusing on written texts, we will consider genre features and issues such as emotive language, which may affect the reader. We will also look at the role of humour and technology in communication, as well as other relevant issues.

The materials we focus on will mainly be from the UK but we will also consider the use of English in its wider international context in any case where this is relevant.

Note that this is not a course intended to help you improve your English. A high level of English is assumed and you will be expected to simply use English in class activities (such as pair- or groupwork discussions), in reading exercises (in class and for homework) and for the written assignment. This assignment will involve writing a fully-referenced 2,000-word academic commentary on a specific spoken or written text, produced by native speakers of English within the last six months. There will be an opportunity to get feedback on an early draft of your assignment and models of previous assignments will also be available to help you understand the approach required.

Overall, if you’re interested in how and why people communicate as they do in English, you should find this module interesting. By studying how English native speakers speak and write, you should also gain insights into communication patterns and possibilities in your own language, and of course in any other languages you study. Of course, as a result of studying English in this analytical way and becoming more aware of key features of communication, your own use of English may improve, but language learning and practice are not the goals. You don’t need to have any previous experience of studying linguistics in order to take this module.

for further information, contact Claire Grendale at

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