BA English Language and Russian

Year of entry: 2022

Course unit details:
Attitudes to Language in the English-Speaking World

Course unit fact file
Unit code LELA31481
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by Linguistics & English Language
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


This course introduces the key concepts and issues involved in the study of attitudes to languages and language varieties. It will enable you to develop a critical understanding of the ways in which beliefs about language are expressed in various types of discourse in the past and present and where these beliefs come from. We will, for example, discuss the attitudes of Jonathan Swift in his Proposal for Correcting, Improving and Ascertaining the English Tongue, the language ideologies expressed in the musical My Fair Lady, and the use of present-day attitudes to varieties of English for character building in TV Shows such as A Game of Thrones, among others. In addition, we will address the ideological nature of language and the relationship of language and stereotype, prejudice and discrimination. Finally, we will introduce the main research methods used in the study of language attitudes, including: language surveys, interviews, matched-guise experiment, and quantitative and qualitative techniques in 'perceptual dialectology'.


The aim of this module is to investigate language attitudes and ideologies, predominantly with regard to a range of varieties of English though other languages will be discussed as well. A secondary focus will be on encouraging critical reflection on the relationship between language in use, beliefs about language, and social structure. 

Learning outcomes

By the end of this course students will be able to:

Teaching and learning methods

The lectures for this course unit will be delivered online.

Knowledge and understanding

By the end of this course students will:

  • be aware of the main paradigms of language attitudes and language ideology research, and demonstrate their relevance for the study of language in society
  • be familiar with and able to comment critically on the major linguistic studies within the field
  • have an understanding of the standard methods using in attitudinal research
  • have an understanding of how linguistic styles or features come to have social and ideological meanings
  • address the ideological nature of language and the relationship between language use and beliefs about language, prejudice and discrimination

Intellectual skills

 By the end of this course students will be able to:

  • develop a critical understanding of the ways in which beliefs about langue are expressed in various types of discourse
  • critically judge and evaluate research findings on attitudes towards varieties of English, past and present
  • recognize flaws in arguments and assess the merits of contrasting explanations

Practical skills

 By the end of this course students will be able to:

  • analyse existing attitudinal data and evaluate the methodologies used in the studies within the field
  • apply standard data analysis techniques and background concepts to new data

Transferable skills and personal qualities

 By the end of this course students will be able to:

  • interpret information presented in the form of diagrams, tables and graphs
  • apply and interpret tests of statistical significance
  • successfully conduct self-directed study and research, with appropriate time management
  • successfully form and defend an argument

Employability skills

By the end of this course students will be able to engage with societal beliefs about language, and contribute to the ongoing discussion about standard and non-standard language use in the education system from an academic point of view.

Assessment methods

Individual blog on attitudes to language 50%
Argumentative essay on local language use in the UK education system 50%


Feedback methods


Feedback method

Formative or summative

Personalized written feedback from course instructors on all submitted assignments.


Feedback from instructors during seminars and/or on discussion fora


Feedback from peers during seminars



Recommended reading

Garrett, P. 2009. Attitudes to Language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Giles, H. 1970. Evaluative reactions to accents. Educational Review 22.3, 211-227.
Lambert, W. E. & R. C. Hodgson, R. C. Gardner & S. Fillenbaum. 1960. Evaluational reactions to spoken languages. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology 60.1, 44-51.
Lippi-Green, R. 2012. English with an Accent. Language, Ideology and Discrimination in the United States. Second edition. London and New York: Routledge.
Mugglestone, L. 2003. ‘Talking Proper’: The Rise of Accent as Social Symbol. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 
Niedzielski, N and D. Preston. 2003. Folk Linguistics. Berlin and New York: Mouton de Gruyter.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 11
Seminars 22
Independent study hours
Independent study 167

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Marije Van Hattum Unit coordinator

Return to course details