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MA Linguistics / Course details

Year of entry: 2020

Course unit details:
Language and identity in multicultural spaces

Unit code ICOM60031
Credit rating 15
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by ULC General
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


This course is taught primarily by Dr Sheena Kalayil, with guest lectures from staff within the School of Arts, Languages and Cultures (SALC). Students on this course will be encouraged to engage with the Multilingual Manchester project (SALC), or engage with another activity that places them in an intercultural setting, in order to have first-hand experience of issues related to a diverse city.

The course explores the concept of multilingualism and multiculturalism in a micro and macro context through investigations of language use in diasporic communities. Hence, language transmission and maintenance of Heritage Languages will be investigated within families as well as within the larger ethno-linguistic community, and, further, within society. The relationship individuals have with their Heritage Language will also be examined. Different approaches to studies related to language and identity will be discussed, with a particular focus on narrative studies. 


Available on which programme(s)?

·         MA in Intercultural Communication

Available as Free Choice (UG) or to other programmes (PG)?

·         MA in Linguistics

·         MA in Translation & Interpreting.



  • Provide graduates holding a first degree in a humanities subject (not necessarily a language) with the opportunity to acquire a more critical understanding of the concepts of identity, language, community, multiculturalism and (super)diversity.
  • Develop understanding of theoretical approaches to qualitative research in diasporic communities, with a particular focus on narrative enquiry.
  • Give students practical opportunities to develop knowledge of the methods of scholarly research in a humanities discipline and the resources necessary for such research, through reading, the use of web resources as a research tool, seminar discussion, presentations and the writing of essays.
  • Offer students practical experience of intercultural scenarios and of Manchester as a multicultural space. 


Learning outcomes

Category of outcome

Students should:

Knowledge and understanding

Have acquired a more critical understanding of language, identity and culture


Intellectual skills

Have developed an understanding of modern approaches to the study of language transmission and maintenance in micro and macro contexts.


Practical skills

Have mastered the essential skills necessary to pursue independent research in sociolinguistic areas. These include analysis, argument, independent thinking and effective oral and written self-expression. (NB for students proceeding to doctoral research, the relevant language skills must be acquired).


Transferable skills and personal qualities

Have demonstrated, through seminar discussion, presentation and the writing of an essay, their specialized knowledge of a chosen field, and their ability to analyse and evaluate material (including print and electronic resources) and to construct argument in an appropriately lucid, rigorous and scholarly manner.




Week by Week Outline


Week 1:  Introduction:  What is multiculturalism?

·         Discussion of concept drawing on (including) Gerard Delanty, Anthony Cohen, Stuart Hall, Bhikhu Parekh. Discussion of superdiversity, referring to Vertovec, Blommaert and Rampton.

·         Discussion of space and place. Discussion of connectedness of time and space drawing on Mikhail Bakhtin.

·         Discussion of ‘community’, referring to Communities of Practice concepts.


Formative presentation task

Students will be introduced to the Multilingual Manchester project and the three strands available to them:

·         observing and obtaining feedback from participants on Levenshulme Language Day (14 October)

·         English conversation classes to refugees in Moss Side (Wednesdays 1pm in October only, pairs or groups of students can offer one or two sessions)

·         participation in the ‘Lingua Snapp’ Linguistic Landscape project (students are encouraged to take photographs of multilingual signs/presence and have editing rights to upload to the website)


or students can identify another opportunity for first-hand experience of an intercultural situation.


They will give a self-reflective presentation in Week 11. Students will be given readings about self-reflective writing/presenting.




Week 2:  Language and identity

·         What is ‘language’ and what is ‘identity’? Discussion of post-structuralist views on language and identity (non fixedness, performance).

·         Introduce Bakhtin’s concepts of heteroglossia, stratification and polyphony.

·         Discuss  code-switching and post ‘language as code’ (Blommaert), language crossing (Rampton), linguistic capital (Bourdieu)

·         Refer to Multilingual Manchester report on supplementary schools in Manchester/ linguistic landscape of Manchester.


Formative group task: Students will be assigned to groups (they will remain in these groups for Week 8 student-led seminar). Students to present a linguistic landscape of a country/area in next session.


Week 3:  Heritage Language learning: Educational settings in the UK

Class begins by students in groups giving a ‘linguistic landscape’ of a country or area.

·         Discussion of complementary schools (Blackledge and Creese oeuvre, Li Wei, Itesh Sachdev)

·         Discussion of ‘funds of knowledge’ approach to teaching bilingual children in mainstream schools (Charmaine Kenner); issues surrounding bilingual children in education.


Summative group task: Students given information for Assessed Student-led seminar in Week 8. Groups will have to investigate one aspect of public discourses of multiculturalism in the UK (see Week 8 description)



Week 4:  Heritage Language learning in non-educatio

Teaching and learning methods

Classes will consist of one and a half hour lecture/seminars, and appointment-based weekly office hours. The first part of the class will involve a brief lecture and/or a review of texts that the students will have previously read. Texts for discussion will be made available in electronic form where this is possible. There will then be discussions on the themes and texts. The course will include both summative and formative course work. In the first week, students will be introduced to the Multilingual Manchester project in preparation for the (formative) self-reflective presentation in Week 11.  Week 8 will be a (summative) student-led seminar, where groups of students offer activities that discuss the discourses surrounding multiculturalism/multilingualism. Students will have (formative) practice of working in a group in Week 3.

Employability skills

Time management and prioritising; communication (oral and written); team work; data analysis; community liaison; research methods; presentation skills; develop skills in interrelating in multilingual/cultural contexts such as interviewing participants on Language Day and writing a report on feedback obtained; collecting data (photographs for Lingua Snapp) and uploading to website with commentary; self-reflection;

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written assignment (inc essay) 70%
Oral assessment/presentation 30%

Feedback methods

Feedback method

Formative or Summative

Week 3 : Group presentation

Formative : oral feedback

Week 8: Group-led seminar

Formative and summative: written feedback

Week 11: Self-reflective presentation

Formative: oral feedback


A report/reflection on language use in a diasporic community or intercultural setting


Formative and summative : written feedback, and optional oral feedback by appointment


Recommended reading

Theoretical readings


Bakhtin, M. M., 1981. The Dialogic Imagination: Four Essays. M.Holquist, ed. Translated by Caryl

            Emerson and Michael Holquist. Austin and London: University of Texas Press.

Benwell, B. and Stokoe,E., 2006. Discourse and Identity. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.


Bhabha, H. K., 1994. The Location of Culture. London: Routledge


Blackledge, A., 2004. Constructions of Identity in political discourse in multilingual Britain. In:

A. Pavlenko and A. Blackledge, eds. 2004. Negotiation of identities in multilingual contexts. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.


Blackledge, A., 2005. Discourse and power in a multilingual world. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.


Blackledge, A. and Creese, A., 2009. Meaning-making as dialogic process: Official and Carnival

            lives in the language classroom. Journal of Language, Identity and Education, 8, pp.236-253.


Blackledge, A. and Creese, A., 2010. Multilingualism: A critical perspective. London:Continuum.


Blommaert, J., 2005. In and Out of Class, Codes and Control: Globalization, Discourse and

Mobility. In M. Baynham and A. De Fina, eds., Dislocations/Relocations: Narratives of Displacement. Manchester: St. Jerome Publishing.


Blommaert, J., 2013b. Citizenship, Language and Superdiversity: Towards Complexity.

Journal of Language, Identity and Education, 12, pp.193-196.


Blommaert, J., 2015. Chronotopes, scales, and complexity in the study of language in society.

            Annual Review of Anthropology, 44, pp.105-116.


Blommaert, J. and Rampton, B., 2011. Language and superdiversity, Diversities, 13(2), pp.1-21.


Bourdieu, P., 1990. The Logic of Practice. Cambridge: Polity.


Bourdieu, P. and Thompson, J.B., 1991. Language and symbolic power. Harvard: Harvard University



Bourdieu, P., 2011. The forms of capital (1986). Cultural theory: An anthology, pp.81-93.


Bucholz, M. and Hall, K., 2005. Identity and Interaction: A Sociocultural Linguistic Approach.

            Discourse Studies, 7(4-5), pp. 585-614.

Calhoun, C. 1998. Community without Propinquity Revisited: Communications Technology

and the Transformation of the Urban Public Sphere. Sociological Inquiry, 68, pp. 373–397.

Cohen, A., 1985. The symbolic construction of community. London: Tavistock.


Creese, A. and Blackledge, A., 2010. Multiilingualism: A critical perspective. London: Continuum.


De Fina, A. and Georgakopolou, A., 2012. Analyzing Narrative: Discourse and Sociolinguistic

            Perspectives. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


De Fina, A. and Georgakopolou,A., eds 2015. The Handbook of Narrative Analysis. Oxford: Wiley-


Delanty, G., 2003. Community, Abingdon: Routledge.

Fishman, J.A., 1989.&nbs

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Seminars 20
Independent study hours
Independent study 130

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Sheena Kalayil Unit coordinator

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