BA Film Studies and English Language

Year of entry: 2022

Course unit details:
Language Contact

Unit code LELA30291
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 module provides an introduction to the study of language contact both as a process (the processing of different languages by multilingual individuals) and as a result (observed language change over time as a result of multilingual language use). Both aspects will be discussed on the basis of a range of case studies involving languages from around the world and different scenarios of multilingualism.


At least one unit out of:
  • LELA20021 Theory of Grammar;
  • LELA20101 Societal Multilingualism;
  • LELA20031 Typology;
  • LELA20502 Variationist Sociolinguistics; 
  • LELA20401 The Changing Structure of English;
  • LELA20042 Meaning in Grammar;
  • LELA20962 Psycholinguistics–or comparable


Students will:

  • obtain an overview of processes of contact-induced historical language change
  • get an insight into the debate surrounding the formation of new languages due to language contact
  • be able to describe the relationship between multilingual language use and contact-induced language change
  • critically reflect on the concept of “language” as a delimited system
  • learn to analyse relevant aspects of the phonology, grammar and semantics of a range of languages, including non-European ones

Teaching and learning methods

  • 1 hr weekly lecture on campus. Pre-recorded lectures will also be made available online as an alternative way of accessing lecture content.
  • 2 x 1hr weekly seminars with data analysis and discussion of readings.

Knowledge and understanding

Students will

  • be able to define some key conceptual notions in language contact such as “borrowing”,“code-switching”, and “creole genesis”
  • link historical processes of contact-induced change to the processing of multiple languages by multilingual speakers
  • apply these concepts to data from familiar and unfamiliar languages

Intellectual skills

  • identifying key points in published research papers on different subtopics
  • critical evaluation of the evidence and sources of data underlying theoretical claims
  • identifying conceptual links between synchronic and diachronic phenomena

Practical skills

  • analysis of multilingual conversations
  • use of glosses and translations to analyse structures of unfamiliar languages

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • interpreting and evaluating data presented in different formats, e.g. graphs, tables, sets of linguistic examples
  • confidence in discussion and argumentation
  • providing explicit evidence and precise argumentation in written work
  • increased appreciation of linguistic and cultural diversity

Employability skills

Analytical skills
Considerable emphasis will be placed on the interpretation and critical evaluation of data presented in various formats, e.g. graphs, tables, and sets of linguistic examples.
The course content encourages students to critically reflect upon the world outside the university thereby providing confidence to use academic research in a variety of settings.
Written communication
The course will also provide key skills in critical analysis and in the dissemination of information to specialist (but non-academic) audiences and therefore be of value for a range of career paths.
The course will have particular benefits for any student interested in pursuing a career which involves teaching and learning, diversity management, intercultural communication and community cohesion.

Assessment methods

Contributions to discussion board in forms of questions and answers on key concepts and reading to be discussed in seminars (4 contributions) 20%
Annotated outline and preliminary bibliography for main coursework 10%
Main coursework: review essay of original research studies on any topic covered during the course 70%


Feedback methods

Feedback method

Formative or Summative

Written feedback on contributions to discussion board

formative and summative

feedback on contributions during seminars


written feedback via Turnitin on outline of main assignment

formative and summative

written feedback via Turnitin on main assignment


additional one-to-one feedback during consultation hours



Recommended reading

  • Bhatia, Tej K. & William C. Ritchie (eds.) 2013. The Handbook of Bilingualism and Multilingualism, Second Edition. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.
  • Hickey, Raymond (ed.) 2010. The Handbook of Language Contact. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.
  • Matras, Yaron. 2009. Language contact. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Winford, Donald. 2003. An introduction to contact linguistics. Oxford: Blackwell.
  • Wei, Li. ed. 2000. The bilingualism reader. London: Routledge.

Study hours

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

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Eva Schultze-Berndt Unit coordinator

Return to course details